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 Post subject: Is the death penalty unconstitutional?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 5:40 am 
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Greetings,

Is the death penalty unconstitutional?

I thought of this earlier thread this week, when the State of Florida (with Jeb Bush, brother of the current president) started a moratorium of executions, and and is thoroughly reviewing the method of lethal injection.

Why? Because they totally botched their most recent execution: it took TWO doses -- and it took about 34 minutes for the person to die! He was apparently moving, and may have been trying to speak after the first series of three drugs was injected, and he appeared to be in a lot of pain -- which would make it unconstitutional, as "cruel and unusual punishment." They had to administer a second dose to complete the execution.

Also, in the State of California, a judge has ordered that they review their procedures of execution, and Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to do so.

There are lots of problems: the three drug "cocktail" used by most states, is no longer used even for euthanizing animals, because it is not known to actually work without causing pain.

No ethical medical doctor can partake in an execution -- it goes completely against their Socratic Oath: do no harm.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:33 am 
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I dont know much about the US's constitution, but I have heard about that case.

Why dont they lock the person in a room and give them a loaded gun, and get the to kill themselves, that way if they screw up its their fault.

And when someone does screw up they can be put out of their misery by someone else shooting them........... or they can just be ignored (sound proof room).

It would be quite messy, which is why its not already the most widespread use of death for prisoners, but I am sure that some arrangement can be found, or a semi-automated system can be used.

As far as the constitution is concerned, I dont see why anyone is making such a fuss about whether or not the person suffers, not least because euthanasia is unconstitutional but should be made legal.


Andy

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:06 am 
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personally i don't see how u can call the organised killing of someone (often after a long period in a jail waiting to die), anything but cruel (even if u feel it is just). and does anyone think it isn't unusual?

besides, isn't this case more about the 'method' of death, not the death penalty itself. could they not think of a(nother) way that wasn't cruel? (and isn't it meant to take 15-20 mins if it is successful.. so still not exactly quick).

i suppose it comes down to whether they are suffering or not during those 30 mins? ..overdosing someone on a drug which gets them high would probably be the 'best' way to ensure it wasn't 'cruel' (assuming the OD didn't make it 'bad'). but then whose going to want to pay for a murderer to get high on their deathbed? and isn't killing them still cruel anyway?

ultimately its the whole obsession with the constitution (very much as if it were a holy text) that could be seen as the problem. cruel, is clearly subjective (and unusual changes over time). and doesn't "cruel and unusual" seem a bit odd to you all?.. i mean, why is it any better if its common? and if we start torturing everyone, and then its not unusual.. so its OK?
but then just putting 'cruel' seems far too soft.. calling someone fat could be seen as unconstitutional.. meh

edit: great plan andy. whilst we're giving guns to murderers, i vote more heroin for junkies and nukes to the terrorists.
anyway i suppose the point in andys post if there is one is.. the lethal injection as planned isn't (hasn't been before).. seen as "cruel and unusual".. its just the fucking up of it. so its only unconstitutional if u fuck up. (which is why they don't shoot people much anymore?). so as long as u do it right its ok.. :? should u stop doing it just on a small possibility of C&UP?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:42 am 
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Many people were sentenced to death (by either hanging them or shooting them) in the 18th century and the founding fathers never complained. If they could condone it, then I do not see why we should complain.

Although, come to think of it, I think an injection would be a lousy way to go; if it were me being executed, I would greatly prefer a death by firing squad or even by being hung. At least then some of my organs would be reusable.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:28 am 
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A bullet through the brain is about as quick as it gets with out going as far as beheading etc etc, but its so messy.....

If the question is simply about the person suffering, then this is the quick easy and cheap solution, but with a lot more blood, brains and bone to clean up.

And of course with suicide the person may screw up, but its their fault, so everyone else is blameless so long as they were shown where to point the gun and didnt just blow their nose off.

If I was really evil :twisted: I would suggest that everyone on death row gets killed in the same way as they killed someone else. Which means that drowning, suffocation, beaten with a hammer etc etc could all be on the cards. Where's "Bluefront" when you need him, he will certainly like that proposal 8)

Or simply let the person choose which way they want to go, and give them a choice of whether they want to hang themselves, blow their brains onto the wall, electrocute themselves, inject themselves with a coctial of their favourite drugs etc etc.

I really think that they should do the deed themselves though. Not least because the vast majority took someone elses life, they can take their own as well.


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Last edited by andyb on Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:33 am 
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"Unusual", as defined by the courts and the law is not synonymous with "uncommon". It is meant to prohibit "novelty" executions, or the use of different forms of execution for different prisoners. You can't sentence one guy to death by pack of rabid ferrets and give another a lethal injection. If it was synonymous with "common" I guess we could just change the prison diet to being nothing but deep-fried lard wrapped in bacon, and let heart decease kill them off...that's about as "common" as it gets.

We're in the last generation of death penalty use in the US. It will be gone completely within 20 years.



I thought I'd get one post in before this thread goes completely to hell in a handbasket. Shouldn't be long now....

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 9:04 am 
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To reduce the hell in a handbasket thing.

Well said Rusty.

I had no idea of what that meant, and it is very sensible to kill everyone in the same way, so that no-one gets treated worse than the next guy (or girl), I think this is one of the reasons for the "Firing Squad's" decline as a common method, as not everyone will always get shot in exactly the right place (the heart), and bones can get in the way etc etc.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 9:43 am 
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so.. does something have to be cruel *and* unusual to against the constitution.. or does it prohibit (extremely) cruel punishment, and unusual punishment (ferrets) also.

if the previous.. then screwing up a lethal injection shouldn't make it unconstitutional. its more 'cruel' but its no more unusual in the way rusty described.

not sure how long it will take the death penalty to go in the US.. with the current (as in 20ys+) climate of liberal being a dirty word, i can't see anyone daring to take it past a state issue at least.
force labour is the way forward.. make em put back into society rather than just deleting them.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:06 am 
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Hello,

Ironically, the person who was eventually killed in the botched execution in Florida, was the person who had appealed to the courts and to the Governor to change the method of execution -- because lethal injection is not known to be humane. His appeals were rejected -- and then they botched his execution; and now they are considering changing their methods.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:31 am 
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Quote:
Many people were sentenced to death (by either hanging them or shooting them) in the 18th century and the founding fathers never complained. If they could condone it, then I do not see why we should complain.


I believe slavery was also legal then?

Quote:
We're in the last generation of death penalty use in the US. It will be gone completely within 20 years.


Looks like you'll need to build a lot more prisons then?

Surely a simple and humane method of execution is carbon monoxide poisoning. You just pass out and die.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 11:00 am 
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It's funny each time an anti-death penalty say he's horrified by the pain a condemned suffers, a pro-death explains a better way of killing.
The fact is that no single method has been reliable and painless in history. Either it's not that easy, either it hasn't been the goal oh those who created these methods.

The fact is still that a lot of death sentence are actually painfull, or even crual (all of them I think).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 1:23 pm 
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jaganath wrote:
Looks like you'll need to build a lot more prisons then?


The death penalty does not reduce the prison population by a meaningful amount. The cost of the execution far outweighs the cost savings in terms of food/board.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:53 pm 
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andyb wrote:
As far as the constitution is concerned, I dont see why anyone is making such a fuss about whether or not the person suffers, not least because euthanasia is unconstitutional but should be made legal.
Andy

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:18 pm 
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is he gonna eat all of that pancake?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:06 pm 
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Just my opinion, but locking men in a cold, dingy 10x10' cage for 30, 40, 50 years is a lot more cruel than having a little bit of an ouchy and being put to sleep forever.

jaganath wrote:
Looks like you'll need to build a lot more prisons then?

Surely a simple and humane method of execution is carbon monoxide poisoning. You just pass out and die.


On the "more prisons" comment, not really. We have something like 1.5 million incarcerated right now and execute maybe 100 a year? It's not a significant amount.

As for carbon monoxide, the other alternative is a hyperbaric chamber and just keep decreasing the air pressure. You'll die of hypoxia which is much the same deal. A lot of climbers and the old WWII bomber crewmen would die of it, not even realizing they'd accidentally unplugged their oxygen hoses and such, just getting more and more disoriented until they'd sit down, pass out, and eventually stop breathing. Again however, people seem to be against anything that takes an hour or so to kill you, even if it is nearly painless.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:35 pm 
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Shining Arcanine wrote:
Many people were sentenced to death (by either hanging them or shooting them) in the 18th century and the founding fathers never complained. If they could condone it, then I do not see why we should complain.


Many of our founding fathers also owned slaves and vehamently argued their right to slave ownership. Would you not complain about that either? Would you also not complain about women loosing the right to vote, since I am unable to recall founding fathers who had serious issues with women being second-class citizens?

This sort of argument could be characterized as an appeal to tradition, although I'd say it's more like an appeal to history. In any event, people have historically adhered to beliefs that arguably have no place within the context of evolving society. I reject this sort of historical claim as a legitimate reason to have the death penalty. The argument needs to be made on the basis of facts, and not on the basis of historical precedent.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 4:22 pm 
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Quote:
Again however, people seem to be against anything that takes an hour or so to kill you, even if it is nearly painless.


That's why I mentioned carbon monoxide, depending on the concentration we're talking about death in less than 3 minutes.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:56 am 
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Rusty075 wrote:
If it was synonymous with "common" I guess we could just change the prison diet to being nothing but deep-fried lard wrapped in bacon, and let heart decease kill them off...that's about as "common" as it gets.


Bacon for life? Sign me up.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 6:33 pm 
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Personally I find the death sentence cruel to begin with. It's not a repellent from keeping criminals to do what they do either.

When a pet is put to sleep, it doesn't feel pain. You can feel the body being relaxed, they slowly go into a slumber, then they stop breathing. It would still be cruel but at least it's painless, and a far better option then most suggestions mentioned.

If you put a pet to sleep, this is what happens:
First, a narcotic injection is given. The second is a euthanasic liquid, an overdose of sedative. It stops nerve synapses from working and gives total muscle relaxion: it stops heart and lung muscles. This liquid usually works between 10 and 20 seconds and is, if properly administered, painless.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 12:37 pm 
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I say we drown them.... it's gotta be cheaper.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 1:29 am 
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Mar. wrote:
I say we drown them.... it's gotta be cheaper.


I don't think it's the actual execution that's pricey.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 11:40 am 
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Beyonder wrote:

I don't think it's the actual execution that's pricey.


Good point.

How about just... not feeding them?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 2:19 pm 
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I think we need to add a good dose of morphine to the drug cocktail that they inject to ensure a painless (and even pleasant) death.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:22 pm 
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Judging from some of the comments here, I may have taken the thread way too seriously... :?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:02 pm 
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Mar. wrote:
Beyonder wrote:
I don't think it's the actual execution that's pricey.

Good point.

How about just... not feeding them?

No ! Let them be killed right afetr the sentence. No pricey jail.
No pricey second judgement (pricey and pretty useless, if they have been sentenced to death once, they deserve at least a little bit death!)

spookmineer wrote:
Judging from some of the comments here, I may have taken the thread way too seriously... :?

It has been discussed , and the discussion lead to nowhere...
For those who take the thread seriously, I'd recommend reading "Discipline and Punish" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discipline_and_Punish ) from Michel Foucault ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault ).
You'll see that our vision of pubishment is pretty close to the past one, when our fathers used to hang, to decapitate, to quarter, to scald...
There was people thinking that disemboweling and showing the bowels to their owner before they die would be great. They even thought it would be a progress.
Yes, it would be a progress in term of efficiency (maximum supposed repealant effect on audience) and in term of humanity (shorter torment, compared to - very appreciated then - quarter).
Yes it's pretty the same arguments as the ones used today by those demanding carbon monoxyde poisoning, funny isn't it ?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 1:49 am 
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If I might be allowed to expand this argument slightly...

The "Is the death penalty moral just?" question is just the tip of the iceberg as far as I'm concerned. I think the root of the question is, "Does the death penalty reduce the number of murders?" is the real question. It needs to be a deterrent, and if it is not a deterrent, it should be abolished.

To illustrate, here in the UK they have a thing called "ASBO" where a kid gets this designation if he has anti-social behaviour. Well, surprise surprise the kids see them as a badge of honor. So being labelled an ASBO would seem to have little use as a deterrent to bad behaviour.

And now, my point: people in the UK are calling for more Police patrols to remedy this problem. But I believe it's the wrong answer. More police in one area will force bad behaviour to another area. Plain and simple. The answer isn't stricter law enforcement. In the same way, killing more people is not the answer to reducing the number of murders.

In my oh-so-humble opinion, the answer lies at home. Parents need to be taught how to parent, how to let their kids know they are loved and important, and how to set good, reasonable limits and consistently enforce those behaviours. Everything else just seems like treating the symptom, not the disease.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 8:12 am 
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Hello,

One of the main problems with the death penalty is it's finality -- you have to be 100% sure that there are no mistaken convictions. Executing an innocent person, or some who is guilty of a lesser crime, is a "deal breaker" -- any system of justice that does execute a person who is not guilty of the capitol crime is broken; and by definition, is unconstitutional.

By the same token, any execution that does not adhere to the standards that we set for ourselves -- like the botched execution in Florida, or in times past, the botched electrocutions, hangings that failed to work, even firing squads that failed; all of these are unconstitutional.

We have about a third of the States that do not have the death penalty, and many of the ones that do, have not executed a person in years, and we have several States that have moratoriums (Florida, California, Illinois, and maybe others?) until they figure out how to either fix their systems, or they decide to make the moratorium permanent.

I ask you this: is it constitutional to have such a wide variety of laws on this, across the USA? It would seem to be an important enough issue, that a US citizen should be assured of equal treatment, no matter what State you are in?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:24 am 
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Shining Arcanine wrote:
Many people were sentenced to death (by either hanging them or shooting them) in the 18th century and the founding fathers never complained. If they could condone it, then I do not see why we should complain.

Neither did they complain about slavery, or flogging in the Navy.


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 Post subject: Re: Is the death penalty unconstitutional?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:36 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Greetings,

Is the death penalty unconstitutional?
...they totally botched their most recent execution: it took TWO doses -- and it took about 34 minutes for the person to die!... - which would make it unconstitutional, as "cruel and unusual punishment."

You mean are certain death penalties unconsitutional, those involving a particular method of chemical injection.
Quote:
No ethical medical doctor can partake in an execution -- it goes completely against their Socratic Oath: do no harm.

That is not a constitutional issue.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:45 am 
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mb2 wrote:
not sure how long it will take the death penalty to go in the US.. with the current (as in 20ys+) climate of liberal being a dirty word, i can't see anyone daring to take it past a state issue at least.
force labour is the way forward.. make em put back into society rather than just deleting them.

I agree that more productive punishments than jail/death penalty should be used.
As for how long death penaties will last, of course they are hardly used at present becaue of political factors, but surveillance technology (cameras, computerized image recognition, central databases) I think will dramatically increase the number of crimes that are caught so may reduce the need for the additional deterrence of the death penalty.


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