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Is Capital Punishment Murder?
in Politics

By UniversalismUniversalism 12 Pts edited December 2018
There are many people in our times who still support the death penalty. The reasons for why they might support it vary:

  1. Because they want to execute someone for a wrongdoing
  2. They believe it is a deterrent against crime
  3. It is cheaper to execute people than to incarcerate them
  4. Execution is better than incarceration
Most of my argument will be directed against the first point. 

That being said, let me draw some attention to the other three points so that I can clear some misconceptions regarding the nature behind capital punishment.

Who says we need to incarcerate anybody as an alternative to execution?

There was a time when people who were caught speeding on the road were more likely to be subjected to a jail sentence. Nowadays, it is likely that such people are going to be subjected to a fine and/or road suspension, as people decided it was somehow more ethical and cost effective to merely fine people, rather than putting them in a local jail and being locked there for days or even weeks.

In ancient times, there were some societies that also practiced the execution of thieves, burglars and counterfeiters. While such cases are still reported in a few developing countries, the same cannot be said for the industrial world, where the death penalty for non-homicide offences have long since been abolished.

That being said, there are only a few countries left in the world that still continue to put people to death. 

These countries include: China, North Korea, Belarus, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and the United States.

A few other countries, such as India and Thailand, only carry out an execution on average of once or twice per decade.

Several other countries, such as Papua New Guinea, have not carried out an execution in almost a century, and there is no sign that the death penalty will resume in the given future. The same is also true when it comes to countries such as South Korea (which has not executed anybody since 1997) that still have the death penalty in their law books, yet have an official moratorium prohibiting their executions.

And how did such countries respond to the abolition of the death penalty?

While there are some variations, countries that have abolished the death penalty tend to have more reasonable sentencing laws, and the conditions of incarceration tend to be far more humane than they would be in an average country where the death penalty is administered.

The United States is the last country in the Americas to still carry out the death penalty. A few countries, such as Cuba (which last executed someone in 2003) have retained capital punishment while also imposing a moratorium on it.

When Anders Bering Breivik carried out the Oslo Bombing - Utoya Island attacks, he was given a prison sentence of 21 years, which was the harshest sentence allowed in Norway at the time for terrorism resulting in loss of life. (Norway has since upgraded the maximum sentence to 30 years for similar future offences.)

Breivik is likely more dangerous than any other prisoner found in the modern United States. You would be hard-pressed to find anybody inside America's prisons who could come close to the level of security risk that Breivik possesses; a fact that even Breivik's own father has confirmed when he visited his son in prison after the massacre.

And yet Norway does not execute Breivik, nor does Norway feel the need to place Breivik in a degrading environment in order to satisfy some form of retributive vengeance on behalf of the state and/or victims.

Many family members of those slain by Breivik have clearly stated that even if Norway were to have a death penalty, they themselves would protest against it, because it would go against their beliefs that the state should not be executing and/or deliberately placing people in abysmal conditions in order to placate the victims and their relatives.

While the United States is not without such examples found amongst family members who request clemency on behalf of the condemned, they are far more anecdotal than would appear to be the case in mainland Europe, where the death penalty has been abolished in all countries, except for Belarus.

Personally, I believe there is a lot of social conditioning involved that has made a greater majority of its citizens believing that draconian punishments are the only way to maintain a functioning legal system. This is why other laws, such as the Third Strikes Law, which has gotten thousands of people locked up for life for "crimes" as simple as cheating on a driver's test or shoplifting a pair of socks while on probation or parole, was supported by the majority of voters when such laws were introduced in the 1990s, despite being regarded as a human rights violation in every other industrial country, where the need to impose severe criminal punishments is not as central as it is within the United States.

The evidence does not indicate that the death penalty saves more lives than it destroys, because the United States by far has the highest homicide rate of any industrial country in the world. Even its northern neighbour, Canada, has a homicide rate of only approximately one-third of that of the United States, and Canada does not have a death penalty, nor does it have sentencing laws that could be even remotely compared to the United States in terms of severity, as 25 years to life (used mostly for first degree murder) is the harshest sentence permitted under Canadian law.

Proponents of capital punishment may simply declare that the statistics are not important to them, and that what they really seek is for someone convicted of murder to be executed.


While they may be legally within their right to hold this opinion, the ethics behind it is far more discernible, and not in a positive way. Just because someone wants the state to carry out executions on those convicted of murder does not mean that the state should do so. We as a society should not be asking the state to play the role of assassin on our behalf, in the same way we would not want the state waging unjustified wars or introducing other legislation that is blatantly at odds with fundamental human rights.

The state should be held to a much higher level of both accountability and righteousness. The vast majority of Americans claim to be Christians, and I am sure they would agree that as Christians, they have all committed terrible deeds in their lives, even if such transgressions may not have been technically illegal from the perspective of the state. Nowhere in the New Testament can I find evidence that Jesus would have supported the use of capital punishment, nor any other legal sanctions that would be done for the sole purpose of inflicting pain on another.

In fact, Jesus even rebuked those who used the Old Testament as justification to stone adulterers or those caught working on the Sabbath. It was also in the New Testament where Jesus was seen spending more time helping the so-called criminals of society, while also chastising the Sanhedrin for their own hypocrisy. 

The irony of Christians who support the death penalty becomes even more clear when we remember that Jesus was put to death by the very state that would wage wars that cost the lives of millions of people, in addition to the millions more who may be imprisoned or be economically ruined from the actions of the state. It is also the state that decides who will live or die in countries where the death penalty is still carried out.

In Belarus, the bodies of those executed are cremated and scattered in an undisclosed location as a way to deny a proper burial for both the executed, as well as their friends and family members, who may be lucky to even receive the prison uniform that their loved one may have worn on the day of their execution.

The United States practices a similar method as Belarus, where the dead are thrown in large prison cemeteries and the only markers found on their grave stone (if they receive one at all) is their prison number. Only a few states have recently abolished this practice and given the dead the dignity of having their real names, as opposed to being treated as a mere number even after death.

As any reasonably sound person can tell, the death penalty does not only negatively impact the person being executed, but also their friends and family who may end up suffering great emotional as well as physical trauma at the thought of their kin being murdered by the state. This is something that one who may still support capital punishment should be able to at least nod to, even if we are arguing from a purely secular point of view.

Thousands of people are still on death row in the United States, and the average time one awaits an execution is up to fifteen years. For some, this period of waiting is much longer than this. There have been cases in modern American history where someone actually spent far more of their lives on death row awaiting their inevitable demises than they did in the free world. Some death row inmates who committed a murder in the 1970s when they were a teenager or a young adult in their twenties were executed as recently as last year when they were now senior citizens and had spent nearly half a century living under conditions that would be seen as barbaric even in the eyes of more conservative-minded folks, if the people being subjected to such conditions were not death row inmates.

Effectively, they are given a life sentence where they are locked up for 23 hours a day with little to no access to exercise and hygiene, before being disgracefully murdered by the state. And during that time, it is not just the person on death row, but the ones who may have had a direct or indirect attachment to that person who also have to grieve, not knowing what is going to happen to them or whether or not they will ever be able to get their death sentences commuted before their death warrant gets signed.

With the cruelty of capital punishment, the actual death of the condemned is no doubt the most reassuring relief that many of their relatives and friends can hope for, as their fate is now officially sealed, and the suffering of the condemned is now over, whether or not one believes in an afterlife.

Nonetheless, this is not how a proper society should view the killing of others through legal purposes, as the death penalty is still legalised murder in the same way that abortion or killing in times of war are. No matter what someone may have done to get them placed on death row in a country where the death penalty is still carried out, it must also be remembered that, like you and me, they also had a story and a history before going on death row.

And out of all the things they may have done in their lifetime, it is usually a single act that ends up getting them put there. While the counter argument would be that the vast majority of people never take a life, it should also be pointed out that to some degree, nearly everyone has participated in the killing of others, whether they want to admit it or not.

For instance, most Americans supported the War in Iraq when George W. Bush called for the invasion in 2003, knowing that many people were going to be killed as a result. Soldiers would have killed people in the war, and the dead who were killed in Iraq are just as dead and missed by their families as the people who are killed by someone in a peacetime setting back home.

Nobody should be able to judge anyone to the point where we decide who should be killed or be placed in deliberately miserable conditions as a form of societal revenge. Can we honestly tell ourselves that if we had been born in a different time or place that we would be the same people as we are today? 

Someone who makes a living as a computer engineer would not have been working such a job in medieval times, and thus it is likely that the environment they would have been subjected to in medieval times would have impacted the way they think. This is equally explainable when it comes to Americans who believe that mass incarceration and the death penalty is a necessity, because their leaders for multiple generations have told them that it is a necessity.

The same does not hold true when it comes to countries that have a history of being more progressive in regards to coming up with a more fair and humane approach to the legal system. The United States has the potential to exclude itself from being deluded into thinking it is the exception to that rule.

Lastly, I also want to mention that there were hundreds of cases of death row inmates who proved to be a real positive influence for the inmates and even staff who were within their presence. Before their executions, some of these death row inmates became authors, teachers and self-learners who undoubtedly had the potential to not only better their own lives, even while living through a precarious time in their lives, but also for those within and outside the prison system.

To execute someone who may have helped turn the lives of others in a positive way is yet another extreme example of selfishness that the United States as well as several other countries with an active death penalty are guilty of. While keeping such prisoners alive, and possibly even freeing those who have been genuinely rehabilitated, does not bring the ones who were dead back to life, neither does executing them change that reality.

The person who was killed is already dead.

Nothing can change that.

The person who has yet to be executed does not need to be executed if we refuse to allow them to be executed.

If I were someone who was slain, and the person who killed me used their negative experience to turn that into a positive, I would much rather that person go free and become a productive member of society while spreading their new positive influences to others, rather than letting such potential go to waste, even though I would still be dead, nonetheless.

The state may have the legal power to decide whether or not something is legal or illegal, but the state will never be able to achieve a monopoly in dictating what is right and wrong.

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  • That was a long intro but okay. It’s like having an eye for an eye. If you kill someone’s daughter, they would either come and kill you or kill someone closer to you. Capital punishment is the governments way of regulating this. 
    Sovereignty for Kekistan
  • No, Capitol punishment isn't murder.

    If an offender doesn't go about murdering a innocent citizen, or a family of innocent citizens.

    Then a citizen by not murdering someone, doesn't have to deal with a Capitol punishment situation, do they? 

  • @AmericanFurryBoy The assumption that you are making is two fold. First, you believe that people will naturally come to kill someone else as retaliation as though this were a mathematical concept. This is not true at all, as there are many people who have been known to either accept a sentence other than death, or to even go so far as to outright forgive their killers and help grant their release. In some cases, the state has carried out executions even when the relatives of the person killed had tried to speak on behalf of the condemned and spare them from the death penalty. In other cases, family members of the person killed have tried going before the board of pardons to get a life sentence commuted and were denied by the state.

    It is therefore a fallacy to claim that the state is merely regulating what people want, since the state -- at least in the modern United States -- is notorious for being much harsher overall than the average citizen would be. And even if we lived in a society where one could inflict the punishment of their choice on another does not mean that we should stand by and permit it.

    If we are going to use the argument that we must kill someone who has killed another, then we may as well reintroduce crucifixion or some other torturous execution method in the event that the murder involved rape and/or torture. Even the majority of conservative-minded people today would, I am hoping, be opposed to implementing the types of extreme executions that occurred in the past, yet that would be the requirement needed if we are going to use the literal interpretation of having our state inflict the same types of punishments on another individual as that individual was accused of doing to someone else.

    Secondly, if I fight in a war because my government sent me overseas and I get blown to pieces from a grenade, I am still going to be dead when the war is over. In Ancient Greece, it was customary amongst many Greeks for someone to avenge the death of their fathers, even if their father died in wartime. This would theoretically mean that if I had a son who found out the culprit that threw that grenade, he would be required to spend the rest of his life hunting down the killer and seeking revenge. And in the event that my son is successful, my killer's son would be obligated to do the same thing in return to my own son and so on, so forth.

    This is how clan rivals developed in the past, and it is most certainly not what I nor the majority of people living outside the United States want to see. I should also mention that for the first time in fifty years, a slight majority of Americans now oppose the death penalty. Support for the death penalty in the United States was at a low point in 1965 when only 42% of Americans supported it. The death penalty's popularity reached its zenith in 1994 when some 80% of Americans supported it, thanks largely to the politicians who fear mongered many people during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that a large crime wave would erupt if the country did not increase the number of executions while simultaneously increasing prison sentences for non-capital offences.

    Roughly two-thirds of countries have already abolished the death penalty. And out of the minority of countries that still use it (a few countries, such as Brazil, reserve it only for wartime offences), most either never carry out an execution, or they do so once every decade or so. For instance, India, with its population of over one billion people, had a hiatus where in 2004 executions ceased altogether in the wake of declining executions over previous decades. It was not until 2012 that India carried out the execution of Ajmal Kasab for his role in the Mumbai attack. Since then, I am aware of only two other cases of people being executed in India, and both of them were regarded as high-profile terrorists accused of mass murder.

     Even within the United States we see some regulations on the death penalty. Woodson v. North Carolina prohibited mandatory death sentences from being handed down. This meant that it was inevitable that many if not most of those convicted of capital offences would be spared the death penalty. Later on, Thompson v. Oklahoma ruled the death penalty in 1988 for juveniles under sixteen to be illegal. This was later extended in Roper v. Simmons to a minimum age of eighteen years, sparing hundreds of sixteen and seventeen year old juveniles who were, at the time, either on death row or facing a capital case trial.

    If the United States itself -- despite having by far one of the stiffest sentencing laws in the modern world -- has limited the use of the death penalty, then the argument that the state is pleasing all parties by putting people to death cannot be made, as the majority of people convicted of capital offences are not sentenced to death, nor are they executed.

    Should the mandatory death sentence be ruled constitutional and Woodson v. North Carolina overturned? If so, then how is the state going to persuade a jury to vote for death if the jury member chooses not to? Studies have shown that juries are more likely to find somebody not guilty if they believe that the consequences of sentencing someone to an excessive punishment is outweighed by letting them go free.

    Would juveniles also be executed again? What about the mentally retarded? Even China has gone to great lengths to limit the death penalty over the last decade, and in fact, China abolished the death penalty for juveniles in 1997; eight years before Roper v. Simmons was decided in the United States. The myth that China "executes everyone" is quite amusing, as China executes roughly 1-2,000 people a year, despite the country's annual 20,000 homicides. 

    One of the reasons China abolished the death penalty in the first place was because the state recognised that offenders were far more likely to resort to violence in the event that they faced the death penalty or possibly even natural life in prison. It was also the reason why China abolished the death penalty for burglary, robbery and theft, since such offenders were far more likely to kill their targets in order to ensure there would be no witnesses, as the penalty for killing them was, at one time, potentially as dire as merely stealing from them.

    While the United States may not execute people for theft, it is known for imposing sentences spanning multiple decades, even for acts as simple as stealing. In the case of Leandro Andrade, for instance, he was given a sentence of 50 years to life in 1995 under California's Three Strikes Law for the offence of shoplifting some VHS tapes from a Kmart. In another similar case, Santos Reyes was given 26 years to life for cheating on a driver's test in 1997 under the same laws that got Leandro Andrade sent to prison for the rest of his life. 

    Reminiscent of the thousands of other cases that came before and after them, the Supreme Court decided that such excessive sentencing, even for theft, did not violate the constitution's eighth amendment on "cruel and unusual" punishment. If supporters of the Three Strikes Law thought that giving life sentences for offences that were once seen as fairly trivial would somehow deter overall crime rates, they were wrong.

    In the following years, many American police officers have been killed by thieves who were not willing to face the Three Strikes Law or some other draconian punishments that were introduced in the wake of politicians campaigning for a "tough on crime" approach. While I have not been able to relocate the specific site, there was a single year in California where no fewer than six police officers in the state of California alone got killed by an otherwise petty offender, because the offender knew that killing the police officer would bring a punishment that was hardly worse than the mere act of stealing. It also gave such offenders the possibility that they might evade capture.

    The continent of Europe has not seen an execution in decades (outside of Belarus), with a handful of European countries actually abolishing the death penalty during the medieval era; one example being the Italian state of San Marino, which last executed somebody in 1468.

    And yet, Europe typically enjoys a far lower crime rate than the United States. Even the most conservative European politicians in regards to the legal field would be regarded as quite progressive compared to even the more liberal-minded American politicians who generally support far harsher sentencing laws than would be the norm outside the United States.

    Bernie Sanders, for instance, may be seen as being somewhat progressive in the eyes of Americans because he favours abolishing the death penalty as well as relaxing certain types of criminal penalties, yet his legal/criminal views regarding sentencing would still be seen as quite conservative if he were living in Canada or continental Europe and mimicking what he has publicly called for within American politics.

    When Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, a majority of Europeans who were surveyed said that they opposed his execution. I doubt that the same level of condemnation would be found within the United States, where sentencing laws, despite their proven ineffectiveness, make even China's criminal system seem quite tame in comparison.

    I am also certain that if I looked around, I could find some family members of those killed by Saddam Hussein who would also have been against killing him. I know this, because I personally knew some people who had fled from Iraq because of Saddam Hussein's regime -- often times with the loss of their relatives -- who have also talked about their opposition to capital punishment.

    After the Second World War ended, a growing number of European countries saw the senseless killing as a sign that states ought to put the death penalty itself on death row; hence the reason why the death penalty today cannot be found in any European country outside of Belarus.

    When Cambodia suffered under the Khmer Rouge regime, the country did not resort to the use of capital punishment, either. In fact, the actual killing experienced in the country during the 1970s, (as well as the 1980s when the Vietnamese army invaded) prompted the survivors to abolish the death penalty. A feat they accomplished in 1989, and Cambodia has never looked back on capital punishment as a solution.

    In conclusion, I think it is reasonable for me to state that not everyone who suffers a loss in their lives is going to support using the death penalty as a response, in the same way that not everyone who goes through life without suffering a loss is going to necessary be opposed to the death penalty. Wealthier people in the United States have been known to be far more likely to support the death penalty when compared to poorer people, and yet it is the latter group that is also more likely to become the personal victims of a violence offence.

    The argument that capital punishment is a way to maintain peace in our society should finally be put to rest, as it has even failed in saving lives.
  • @TTKDB Are you implying that innocent people are never sentenced to death, or even executed? In such cases, I would presume that even someone who has never killed anyone does have to worry that they may face the death penalty themselves in a jurisdiction where the death penalty is carried out.

    That being stated, I also want to add that even if there was never the fear of executing an innocent person, I would still be opposed to the death penalty from an ethical point of view in the same way I am against abortion, slavery or any other form of human rights violation. 

    Someone's rights should NOT be forfeited by the state, as the state grants such rights to its citizens at birth. Providing such rights conditionally means that the state has decided it can start excluding some of the population of the rights that are constitutionally guaranteed to them.

    Thomas Jefferson once stated that "a government that is powerful enough to give you something is powerful enough to take it away."

    The next thing you know, the state could potentially choose to discriminate based on race, economic class, religion or even political leanings, as citizens who support stripping the rights of their own fellow citizens for supposed criminal acts have already given the state enough power to extend the denial of rights to far more people than supporters of capital punishment may have intended.

    When the Three Strikes Law was first introduced, people were assured that the law would only apply to murderers and rapists previously convicted of a similar offence. However, by supporting this law, the citizens paved the way for the state to expand the Three Strikes Law towards repeat offenders convicted of the types of menial offences that most early proponents of the Three Strikes Law would never have imagined.

    The right to live is a constitutionally guaranteed right given at birth by nearly all countries in the world (including those that have abolished the death penalty for all crimes) and making the exception for some means denying the right for all.
  • I think so. Yeshua Jesus said to not return evil for evil, and I believe people have the right to live.
  • The sense of vengeance, indeed, has proven countless times to be a poor place to come from when doing policy making. Vengeance is frowned upon by the law in general for many reasons. For example, if someone steals my car, and I go ahead and steal their car in return - my reaction will not be seen as reasonable or just, and both of us would be trialed for theft. If someone kills my daughter, and I in return kill theirs, then both of us will be prosecuted. If a bank miscalculated my income and mistakenly took away $10,000 of my money, and I go ahead and rob that bank for $10,000, then I will be seen as guilty of robbery.

    However, for some reason, when it comes to death sentence, those very lawyers who otherwise reject the principle of vengeance will often take a stance that killing a person can be justified by their previous wrongdoings. This is a very strange logical leap, and, I think, it has a lot to do with emotions and little with logic.

    The second reason (deterrent) is not very practical either, since the possibility to spend a lifetime in jail is already deterrent enough. In fact, many people are afraid of a lifetime sentence more than that of death sentence, since the former takes much more than the latter.

    The third reason makes sense: indeed, executing people is much cheaper than funding their jail time. However, this is a short-term approach. What about the long-term, when this person gets out of jail, hopefully rehabilitated, and starts contributing to the economy? A solid economy should be based on the principle of investing in the future, not trying to save money at the moment, and there is no better investment than investment in human capital for a nation.

    The fourth reason is very subjective, as "better" needs some clarification. In my opinion, even incarceration is extremely barbaric, let alone execution; I would like there to be rehabilitative facilities, rather than "prisons", as it is done in Nordic countries, where even when being rehabilitated, people for the most part can have a pretty normal life. Incidentally, the crime rates there are much lower than in the US, so apparently deterring people from crime is not the answer to it all.
  • @MayCaesar I am sorry for being mean on my religious debate, and I agree.
  • @MayCaesar I actually wrote a lot about the criminal system in the United States -- past and present -- and what I found was that, contrary to popular belief, the United States had more focus on rehabilitation during the 1800s and first decades of the twentieth century than it does today.

    If you are interested, I can link you some of my articles, which contain the criminal code of various American states of the past compared to today, as well as the time actually served in prison. 

    Life without parole is a fairly modern concept that is almost unique to the United States. Only a handful of other countries have life without parole, and the ones that use it tend to do so sparingly.

    When the death penalty was first abolished in the United States on a nationwide basis in 1972, after a five year hiatus where executions had ceased, some states began introducing life without parole as a substitute sentence for serial killers and mass murderers who were historically the most likely offenders to face the death penalty.

    However, the Supreme Court then overturned their ruling in 1976 and declared the death penalty constitutional, minus a few amendments that states were forced to comply with. One of them was that states had to impose a minimum sentence of 30 years for offenders who were found guilty of a capital offence in order to make it less likely that a jury would decline to commute a death sentence on grounds of the prison sentence itself being too lenient.

    Until the Supreme Court's regulations regarding life sentences during the 1970s, it was very unusual for a lifer to spend more than a decade in prison, as the average nationwide life sentence throughout most of American history was seven years. This meant that when it came to capital murder offences, a jury was statistically more likely to choose the death sentence than they would be today where life without parole is a sentencing option.

    Where this does balance out, in comparison to modern capital punishment in the United States, is that governors and presidents were actually far more likely to commute a death sentence than they would be today. Whereas in modern times, very few death sentences get commuted, the reality was reversed, as more prisoners on death row had their death sentences commuted than were actually carried out.

    If you look at the number of presidential pardons and commutations that were granted by individual presidents, we see a trend where the number of pardons and commutations declined to merely a couple hundred federal prisoners, most of whom were convicted of non-violent offences. By contrast, presidents before the Ronald Reagan era were commuting/pardoning anywhere from several hundred to several thousand prisoners during their term, and that was when the prison population was much smaller than it is today.

    I also think it is very telling to note that whereas today it would be career suicide for an aspiring politician to come out as being against the death penalty (remember Michael Dukakis?) the opposite was the case in the early decades of American history, when many mainstream politicians and even a few presidents (Cesare Beccaria, George Washington, Benjamin Rush. Thomas Jefferson etc.) openly came out as being against the death penalty.

    Fourth president James Madison even went so far as to encourage states to abolish the death penalty when he publicly made this announcement during one of his speeches regarding capital punishment: "I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishments by any State willing to make it.”

    Not only was rehabilitation far more present in early American legal history than today (largely in part due to the United States being founded on many European concepts, including a somewhat more progressive penal system), prisoners were given rights that they would not receive today. 

    For instance, it was not uncommon for prisoners to be released on day parole about as quickly as the time they were sentenced. This meant that prisoners who were on good behaviour were able to leave prison during the day time and find employment or even attend university outside of prison, as both a way to help prisoners find stable employment upon being granted full release, in addition to making it easier for prisoners to stay with their family and community.

    Furloughs were also fairly common, as prisoners were allowed to leave on weekends and holidays as both a reward for good behaviour, as well as a stepping stone to being able to petition the parole board for a full release. Such rights were largely abolished when politicians started to campaign for harsher sentencing laws, which included denying prisoners the right to leave prison part-time, even if they were on their best behaviour and posed no significant risk outside of prison.

    A few states, such as Ohio, have not retroactively abolished this right, which means that certain prisoners convicted of crimes dating before a certain date are still entitled to having furloughs and day parole as part of their sentencing condition. For example, first degree murderers in the state who committed their offence before October 19, 1981 (the same day that the state increased minimum sentences for lifers convicted of offences after this date) are still eligible for day parole and furloughs, and they are also allowed to use their day release for the parole board to allow them to be released before their 15 year sentence expired (the harshest sentence allowed for lifers in the state at the time).

    Here is the comparison for lifers convicted of first degree murder in Ohio before October 19, 1981 and what the punishment for the same offence would be today. Note that the modern sentencing guidelines for lifers in Ohio was introduced on July 1, 1996 when life without parole became a sentencing option in the state, in addition to other restrictions that were introduced during the same amendment to Ohio's laws.

    I should also mention that second degree murderers in the state at the time were given a maximum sentence of 10 years to life, and that they could get one day taken off their sentence for every day of good behaviour; effectively reducing their sentence down to as little as 5 years, in addition to the likelihood that they would be released even sooner through the now abolished right to day parole/furlough.


    (F) A prisoner serving a sentence of imprisonment for life for an offense of first degree murder or aggravated murder committed prior to October 19, 1981.

    (1) Becomes eligible for parole consideration after serving fifteen full years:

    (a) The fifteen years are reduced by jail-time credit pursuant to rule 5120-2-04 of the Administrative Code.

    (b) The fifteen years are not diminished by the time off for good behavior pursuant to rule 5120-2-05 of the Administrative Code.

    (c) The fifteen years may not be reduced by days of credit earned pursuant to rules 5120-2-06 and 5120-2-07 of the Administrative Code.

    (2) Is not eligible for shock parole.

    (3) Is eligible for release on furlough for employment or education pursuant to rule 5120:1-1-23 of the Administrative Code.

    (4) Is eligible for release on furlough for trustworthy prisoners (home furlough) pursuant to rule 5120-9-35 of the Administrative Code.

    Before I mention what the penalties as well as rights restrictions were for first degree murderers convicted after July 1, 1996, I should mention that after October 19, 1981, first degree murderers had their minimum sentences increased to 20 years (or 30 years in the case of multiple life sentences) and they were also no longer entitled to good time credit, nor were they entitled to day parole or furloughs. The death penalty was also officially reinstated in Ohio on October 19, 1981 after the previous attempt to reinstate it was initially declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, which required a harsher prison sentence in order to better substitute a death sentence.


    (K) A prisoner serving a sentence of imprisonment for an offense of aggravated murder committed on or after July 1, 1996:

    (1) Becomes eligible for parole consideration after serving:

    (a) Twenty full years, twenty-five full years, or thirty full years and is reduced by jail time credit pursuant to rule 5120-2-04 of the Administrative Code.

    (b) Twenty full years, twenty-five full years, or thirty full years and is not diminished by time off for good behavior pursuant to rule 5120-2-05 of the Administrative Code.

    (c) The full years may not be reduced by the days of credit earned pursuant to rule 5120-2-06 or 5120-2-07 of the Administrative Code.

    (2) Is not eligible for judicial release.

    (3) Is not eligible for release on transitional control.

    (L) A prisoner serving a sentence of imprisonment for life without parole committed on or after July 1, 1996, is not eligible for parole consideration, judicial release or transitional control.

    As stated previously, most states retroactively abolished day parole and furloughs for all lifers, though Ohio, at least in theory, still allows prisoners to apply for part-time release if their offence dates back to a time when such rights were available for prisoners.

    The overall number of people serving a life sentence has more than quadrupled in the last 25 years, largely as a result of people serving far lengthier sentences than was historically the norm, as nearly half of all lifers today are ineligible for parole, as the majority of people serving life sentences who are parole eligible were convicted of a non-homicide offence, were given a plea bargain, or were convicted of homicide at a time when their respective state still permitted lifers to become parole eligible.

    Pennsylvania technically abolished parole for all lifers convicted of crimes in 1941, making Pennsylvania one of the few states to have introduced the sentence prior to Furman v. Georgia ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972. At the time, Pennsylvania abolished parole for life sentences because the citizens of the state were criticising the somewhat relaxed parole board that released a few violent offenders who left prison to repeat their offences.

    The 1941 introduction of prohibiting parole boards from granting release to a lifer meant that lifers would have to make their case before a parole board, and the parole board would have been required to petition the governor to commute or pardon the prisoner. Such requests were so frequently approved that despite Pennsylvania's introduction of lifer without parole in 1941, the average lifer still got released from the state prison after serving an average of twelve years. No doubt, this time would have been harsh by the standards of other states where life sentences rarely exceeded a decade, yet still lenient by modern American standards.

    Milton Shapp was the last governor of Pennsylvania to continue the policy of commuting/pardoning lifers requesting clemency. During his term as governor, he released several hundred prisoners, including 251 prisoners who were serving life sentences for murder. And this was at a time when the state's prison population was much smaller and younger than it is today, as senior citizens in prison was not a common sight, as most prisoners convicted of murder were released decades before they would reach their senior years.

    After 1980, when Milton Shapp had left office, successive governors made a clear policy that they would not be releasing anymore lifers, especially if it was homicide-related. Between 1980 and 1996, only three lifers were freed from the state. All three were for non-homicide cases, and two of them were able to seek release on grounds of terminal illness. The only prisoner freed in the state between 1980 and 1996 was someone convicted of felony robbery for owning an illegal handgun and lending it to a friend who was later convicted of robbing someone with the same gun. Despite not being involved himself in the robbery, he was still given a life sentence and spent more than twenty years in prison before he was granted release from prison in 1976.

    I know I am going on a tangent here, but I am nonetheless trying to drive the point home that the United States was, if anything, far more progressive fifty or a hundred years ago when it came to the legal system than they are today. The idea that people would be spending decades in prison for something as trivial as theft or drug possession would have been alien to past generations, as even first degree murderers rarely spent more than seven years in prison prior to the 1972 rulings that saw the United States adopted the modern sentencing guidelines a year later by increasing mandatory-minimum sentences, as well as expanding the number of crimes that could be punishable with a life sentence.

    It is not surprising that the United States ended up becoming the only industrial country in the world to see an increase in prison population, despite the fact that the overall crime rate had been dropping long before the United States decided to wage a "war on crime" that has done nothing more than to needlessly ruin the lives of millions of people.

    And that is because while the rest of the world decided to pick up a paper and pencil and rethink their policies, the United States simply decided to throw away the key.
  • UniversalismUniversalism 12 Pts
    edited December 2018
    @YeshuaBought Exactly. I always found it ironic how so many Christian Americans can be so blatantly pro-death penalty when they claim to be imitating Jesus Christ. In addition, why should someone being killed be seen as such a big deal as to want to seek revenge? I thought people go to a better place after death, anyway, so shouldn't it be seen as almost a good thing in some ways if that were true?

    At least atheists don't usually believe in the afterlife (there are some exceptions to this rule) so if they were to make a big deal out of murder in this lifetime, I could at least see where they are coming from. Ironically, however, I see a lot of atheists who actually are more anti-death penalty than many so-called Christians are.

    I guess the irony is rich, as Jesus criticised the Sanhedrin for their way of life and thinking by telling them that their ways were not God's ways. In the modern era, we see a lot of right-wing Christians such as Rick Perry and George W. Bush flaunting their religious beliefs while in the same breath condemning people to death, torture, or denying them basic healthcare and shelter.

    Jesus even explicitly forgave one of the condemned on the cross, and there was even a parable that involved a man in debt (sinner) to a king (God) who was seeking his forgiveness. The king forgave him, but the man refused to pardon someone who was in debt to him (another sinner). As a result, the king revoked his pardon and forced him to remain in jail until his debt was paid off.

    The message behind this story is quite clear: if you cannot forgive others, God will be equally as harsh against you. But if you forgive all, then God will forgive you for all your wrongs as well.
  • Capital Punishment is not murder. Punishment can be murder and the criminal cannot only punish unconditionally by united state, they can execute a death sentence unconstitutional. Which is what murder is describing by law. There are degrees of murder not just one state of killing all criminals share.

    Capital Punishment is the highest level of Punishment where by judicial separation a person is separated as the last time. Period. It is the idea that a death penalty which describes murder as a confession was used as a political stance to create a united state of justice and to win votes.

    Capital punishment does not save lives it places a limit to lives that can be lost needlessly by a process of separation not vengeance. the idea is that by United State constitution there should be more forms of capital punishment. Not that there should be no form of capital punishment.

  • UniversalismUniversalism 12 Pts
    edited December 2018
    @John_C_87 Your post seems so contradictory that I am not even sure whether you are arguing for or against capital punishment. 

    Anyways, just because the state has decided to call murder by a different name does not change the fact that it is still murder. When people are executed, their death certificate will even state that the cause of their death is homicide. And while some countries (notably European countries, where murder must typically involve some form of torture or rape in addition to the premeditated crime) the United States has a surprisingly lenient definition of murder when it comes to citizens.

    In fact, citizens in the United States can be charged with capital murder without even intending for somebody to die. In some cases, they don't even need to be present and aware of a homicide-related crime taking place for someone to be charged with first degree murder and given a life without parole sentence or death.

    Just look at the case of Ryan Holle, for example. He lent his car to a friend because he thought his friend was going to buy some drugs. His friend then picked up three other friends and they went to the drug dealer. While buying the drugs, they got into an argument with the drug dealer, and one of them fatally struck the drug dealer's daughter, who was standing beside them, with a blunt object. 

    Not only were the people present charged with capital murder for causing a death that was the result of a drug deal (despite the fact that only one of them actually took it upon themselves to commit a fatal assault that would have been regarded as manslaughter in any other industrial country) Ryan Holle was also charged, because the courts decided that had he not allowed his friend to borrow his vehicle, the incident would not have happened in the first place.

    In an increasingly rare instance, Florida Governor Rick Scott commuted his sentence to 25 years; a sentence I find completely disproportional, as I don't think he should have served a day in jail as far as I am concerned, as there is no evidence that he himself posed a direct threat to himself or anyone else.

    Felony murder is used so extensively in America's "tough on crime" era that even the Supreme Court has to eventually intervene and halt the executions of those who were facing executions involving similar circumstances that Ryan Holle had faced. 

    And yet, the state allows people to participate in homicide, because not only are people allowed to attend and watch the execution, they even permit people to cheer and celebrate outside the death chamber. This is especially true when we are talking about a police officer who gets killed, as it is typical for hundreds of police officers to stand around the death chamber and cause a ruckus on the day that an execution of someone convicted of killing a police officer is due to take place.

    Even worse is the fact that people who are incarcerated for assaulting or even killing a police officer are known to be targeted for abuse far more frequently by prison staff when compared to those who may have killed a homeless person or even a retailer. Police officers ultimately represent the state, and since the state's agenda conflicts with fundamental human rights, it is also obvious that police themselves do not serve the interest of the public, nor should they be regarded as "protectors" as police officers are known to be far more retributive than the average citizen would be; an attitude that is also visibly seen in the way the law is imposed.

    As far as I am concerned, law enforcement officers represent the attitude of the state, as they enforce the laws on behalf of the state, regardless of how immoral the law may be. And if you haven't noticed, law enforcement officers do get away with the type of acts against citizens that would land anybody else in prison or even get them killed if this act took place in a death penalty jurisdiction. Police officers sometimes get exonerated by the courts for beating people to death on the streets when anybody else would be serving a lengthy sentence (or the death chamber). 

    This behaviour is not an accident, as the message is clear in that the state believes that what may be murder for a citizen to carry out is not murder for the state or its agents to do. That is why if I killed a death row inmate just because I wanted to, there is a good chance I would be taking his place on death row, as the state only wants people to die when it tells them to die.

    Citizens cannot legally attempt suicide without being locked up in a hospital, because the state simply has not given them that permission to die. And yet, if a suicidal person wanted to die, they could potentially commit mass murder and ensure themselves a front row spot to the morgue. (Quite ironically, many death row inmates are even placed on suicide watch in order to prevent them from killing themselves before the state does it.)

    If a suicidal person is prevented from committing suicide, because some individual preaches about how "life is precious, so you should never take your own life" then they should follow their motto by ensuring that even the most dangerous individuals in society can live for as long as their health permits them, in the most decent environment reasonably possible while simultaneously ensuring public safety.

    Murdering them, however, forfeits the argument that taking one's own life is never the answer when the state will do it for them.
  • Sorry, I am in favor of Capital Punishment I am just pointing out that you are trying to create a united state based on basic principle of death. Not how that death is achieved in the connection to the public. When you compare War to murder we must address the idea of Military Tribunal which would be the process to direct a capital Separation to the ends of Firing Squad.

    Really the debate is not over Capital punishment at all. Any debate is over the types of Capital punishment that should be made available as united state in an end of line to punishment. Even a term of living inside an institution is capital punishment till death. Do groups of people have to dress in uniform and publicly declare War to be at war with other people?

  • @John_C_87 I am not trying to be offensive or anything, but I am starting to get really confused as to what you are arguing and asking me. First you claim I am trying to "create a united state based on basic principle of death" and then you follow this up with a "not how that death is achieved in the connection to the public." 

    Then you bring war into this and mention something about the military tribunal and firing squad. (In the last line you also ask me whether people need to be in uniform to wage war.)

    In the last paragraph, you claim that we are not debating capital punishment at all (what are we debating, then?) while talking about about incarceration itself as a capital offence.

    There is no doubt that you are trying to make a point and I am more than happy to try and rebut them to the best of my ability if I disagree with it and have evidence to support my disagreement, but until you clarify yourself a little, it is going to be next to impossible for me to give a proper answer.
  • By a basic idea we are not debate a death penalty. By basic idea we are not even debating Capital Punishment. What is being argued by debate is the Type of execution which should take place. An entire life spent incarcerated/ locked-up by a person is a Type Capital Sentence, it is equal to Death of a shorter duration of Time taking place, we are also talking reasonable duration of wait of a Capital punishment, and forms of ending a life which can be chosen.
  • @Universalism So true. I have heard of people being in agony as they die, and considering what happened with Jesus, I doubt he would support it.
  • @Universalism

    That a Medical process calls the death a homicide it simple demonstrated an ability of maintaining legal precedent held by United States Constitution. It is a Constitutional issue that should be addressed by a Govern of State as a state of the union of constitutional principle in regard to that idevigaual state. This is where a power of Executive office is called into play setting a course in the general welfare of all people.

    The cause of death is an orderly separation from the state of living. The Science medical field holds not judicial separation of church and state. This accusation should be addressed again by head of governing state. A murder can be the application of peaceful death the principle is in how the condition of death takes place is what guides the outcome to murder. One person can plan and perform a murder a group of people can plan and perform a murder.

    Again planning a death that take 5 minutes, or a death that takes 50 years is still death. Setting the guidelines of how separation takes place in the order of determination in a united state to what course is to be followed is what the common defense to general welfare becomes.


    @ YeshuaBought

    It is best not to use scripture for argument as Jesus confessed his crime, though it is dramatically underplayed by opinion. He and people in general also hold GOD accountable for the application of capital punishment. So by Constitutional interpretation this process incriminates the judicial separation of not being capable to hold itself impartial.

  • @Universalism
    Your argument suffers in 3 ways.

    First, you never address the main reason for capital punishment. Namely the sacredness of life and the permanence of ending it. Society must show how much it values life by requiring a life in return for ending one. The punishment must equal the crime.

    And for deterrence, the death penalty certainly deters the killer from ever killing again.

    Second, you never offer a reasonable reason why the death penalty should be abolished. You personally don't like it, but so what? On what principle is your opposition to the death penalty based? It seems to me your argument  could also be used against life imprisonment, or even certain lengths of incarceration. In that case we should not have prisons at all.

    Third, you talk about rights. But rights mean nothing without a rights provider. Who extends human rights? If it is men or governments, then your argument about rights fail. In your argument, human rights are what men or governments say they are. Nothing more. And violations are violations only if they say they are.

    Your entire argument is based on emotion, not logic. That in itself is fine, but you seem to believe you are arguing from a place of logic. You aren't.
  • UniversalismUniversalism 12 Pts
    edited December 2018

    So, what is your opinion on abortion? If you support abortion, then you are a hypocrite, as you don't value the life of the unborn. What about slaughterhouses? If you support eating animals, then you also don't value life, as you think that your McDonald's meals and Meat Lover's Pizza is more important than the "sacred" right for animals to live. And if you support wars, do you believe that every soldier should also be put to death upon returning home, alongside everyone who supported the war in the first place?

    Humans have killed all throughout history, and it is within the human gene to take other lives. Just because most of us have never killed does not make it any less so. We just allow others to do it on our behalf (sort of). Your claim that I am arguing from emotion is also quite laughable (no offence intended) since you also mention how we as a society "must" kill in order to demonstrate how valuable life is.

    Nowhere did I ask you to speak on my behalf regarding what society should value and I also doubt that you would be the sort of person who would expect me to rape someone who raped another person to demonstrate that rape is wrong.

    And if you are that kind of a person, I suggest you start taking some meds, as your brain imbalance is quite palpable.

    P.S. I don't support life imprisonment, so your argument there is kind of moot.
  • @ethang5 ;

    The argument doesn’t suffer in any way Capital punishment is not murder as it does not even describe the office stopping of human life as a basic principle that is shared with the public. The understanding is that a Death sentence is murder is more correct as a whole Truth or nothing but truth in relationship to an axiom as model of precedent.

  • prison should not be to make people suffer it is an illogical response to think that because suffering has been caused we should cause more of it the goal of prison is to stop people who cause harm from going into society to cause harm not to make misery adding more death doesn't resurrect the murdered it just kills someone for no real reason
  • @cheesycheese ;

    Prison's do not make people suffer. Those who are in prison all share a united state of causing people to suffer before they are separated. The difference is in who receive the most suffering and why. A person who is incarcerated may not only create suffering in the general welfare the possibility of suffering is not separated in any way from family members anymore as well.  
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