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Old Jan 31, 2013, 09:09 AM   #101
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You take yourself far too seriously.

And that last sentence, though apparently not aimed at me, was a personal insult.
Oh come on, you know I will happily make fun of lawyers and what we do, but to say all laywers are scum is just a complete slur upon a profession that does a lot more than most realize.

As for your "personal insult," perhaps the problem isn't anything I said.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 11:06 AM   #102
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Here's a list of 300+ who were exonerated of murder charges. You'd rather see these innocent people executed?
And there are thousands on death row sucking up free HBO. Technology changes. Some day we will be able to plug a brain in and find out guilt or innocence. Till then, we have to rely on the courts. Costs the state an average of just under 30K a year to hold a death row inmate.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 11:16 AM   #103
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And there are thousands on death row sucking up free HBO. Technology changes. Some day we will be able to plug a brain in and find out guilt or innocence. Till then, we have to rely on the courts. Costs the state an average of just under 30K a year to hold a death row inmate.
You didn't answer the question. You'd prefer a system where innocent people are executed?
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:26 PM   #104
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And there are thousands on death row sucking up free HBO. Technology changes. Some day we will be able to plug a brain in and find out guilt or innocence. Till then, we have to rely on the courts. Costs the state an average of just under 30K a year to hold a death row inmate.
It depends on what you see as important. I value keeping murderers out of society. Due to the imperfections legal proceedings, which aren't limited solely to technology, lifelong imprisonment is a compromise. They're out of society either way. You eliminate much of the problem with the potential for them to kill again. It's just a desire for revenge, yet it doesn't really accomplish anything.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 01:27 PM   #105
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And there are thousands on death row sucking up free HBO. Technology changes. Some day we will be able to plug a brain in and find out guilt or innocence. Till then, we have to rely on the courts. Costs the state an average of just under 30K a year to hold a death row inmate.
It's called the Constitution. You might want to read it. There are more protections in the Constitution against the State imprisoning you, even if you are guilty, than there are for carrying a gun.
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 09:39 PM   #106
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I have nothing against the death penalty as long as:

a) The person in question does not have a mental deficiency
b) The crime committed involved a direct death of another human and was intentional


I just do not see the point of having a person who murders intentionally to live, they clearly do not care about life so they don't need one. Simple.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 04:25 AM   #107
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a) The person in question does not have a mental deficiency
b) The crime committed involved a direct death of another human and was intentional
What you have written looks straightforward and logical. But on closer inspection from a legal standpoint, there are many difficulties. What is the intent - to kill? to cause serious harm? to cause any level of harm? If so what is 'serious harm'?

As for 'direct death', consider:

1. Mr A shoots Mr B in the chest, B dies instantly. Direct? Started off simple - obviously yes.

2. A shoots B in the leg, nicks an artery, B bleeds to death. Direct? Again simple - yes.

3. A shoots B are standing by some stairs. A shoots B in the shoulder, the gun shot would not have been fatal, but in shock B stumbles back and falls down the stairs and dies. Direct? Little more complex, but probably yes.

4. A shoots B in the shoulder. This would not have been fatal usually, but B is on medication (unknown to A) that makes clotting slow so B bleeds to death. Direct? You could say yes, but see how it is getting more tricky?

5. A shoots B in the shoulder. B is taken to hospital, the doctor sees a medical alert bracelet saying B is allergic to a certain drug. But later the doctor forgets and gives B the drug, who then dies. Direct? You have to tell me now!

6. A shoots B in the shoulder. B is taken to hospital an told he needs a blood transfusion. B is a JW and refuses, so dies. Direct?

7. A takes a hostage, Mr C, and uses him as a human shield. A starts shooting at B, B has nowhere to take cover. B aims to shoot A, but kills C by mistake. Direct? (By that I mean has A directly killed C).

It may surprise you to know that all of the above are based loosely on real cases. They happened in the UK (I'm a lawyer here, so learnt English criminal law), but US law is based on the English system and has many of the same doctrines. In every one of the above cases A would be guilty of murder, yet how does that square up to the definition you gave? Would you want Mr A executed in all of the above? No matter how well you try and define 'direct death' there are always going to be situations that are tricky to judge. That's one if my main issues with the death penalty- it deals out an absolute and irreversible punishment for a crime that cannot be absolutely defined and will always have grey areas.

I could do exactly the same exercise with your point (a) by the way.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 08:38 AM   #108
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What you have written looks straightforward and logical. But on closer inspection from a legal standpoint, there are many difficulties. What is the intent - to kill? to cause serious harm? to cause any level of harm? If so what is 'serious harm'?

As for 'direct death', consider:

1. Mr A shoots Mr B in the chest, B dies instantly. Direct? Started off simple - obviously yes.

2. A shoots B in the leg, nicks an artery, B bleeds to death. Direct? Again simple - yes.

3. A shoots B are standing by some stairs. A shoots B in the shoulder, the gun shot would not have been fatal, but in shock B stumbles back and falls down the stairs and dies. Direct? Little more complex, but probably yes.

4. A shoots B in the shoulder. This would not have been fatal usually, but B is on medication (unknown to A) that makes clotting slow so B bleeds to death. Direct? You could say yes, but see how it is getting more tricky?

5. A shoots B in the shoulder. B is taken to hospital, the doctor sees a medical alert bracelet saying B is allergic to a certain drug. But later the doctor forgets and gives B the drug, who then dies. Direct? You have to tell me now!

6. A shoots B in the shoulder. B is taken to hospital an told he needs a blood transfusion. B is a JW and refuses, so dies. Direct?

7. A takes a hostage, Mr C, and uses him as a human shield. A starts shooting at B, B has nowhere to take cover. B aims to shoot A, but kills C by mistake. Direct? (By that I mean has A directly killed C).

It may surprise you to know that all of the above are based loosely on real cases. They happened in the UK (I'm a lawyer here, so learnt English criminal law), but US law is based on the English system and has many of the same doctrines. In every one of the above cases A would be guilty of murder, yet how does that square up to the definition you gave? Would you want Mr A executed in all of the above? No matter how well you try and define 'direct death' there are always going to be situations that are tricky to judge. That's one if my main issues with the death penalty- it deals out an absolute and irreversible punishment for a crime that cannot be absolutely defined and will always have grey areas.

I could do exactly the same exercise with your point (a) by the way.
Excellent, thoughtful and well argued post.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 08:41 AM   #109
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Excellent, thoughtful and well argued post.
Agreed. Great illustration here, I think.

I disagree with the death penalty as well, and I think this post helps point out the problems I have with it, among the idea that the government or society have any right to take your life.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 10:01 AM   #110
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You didn't answer the question. You'd prefer a system where innocent people are executed?
I would prefer that the ones where there is no doubt, DNA, multiple witnesses, etc be executed. Kind of based on the Texas model.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 10:51 AM   #111
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I would prefer that the ones where there is no doubt, DNA, multiple witnesses, etc be executed. Kind of based on the Texas model.
There is almost always doubt.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 11:17 AM   #112
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What due process? If they are found guilty, then they are guilty.
By this logic you must believe that O.J. is innocent.

Do you believe that O.J. is innocent?
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 03:19 PM   #113
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I would prefer that the ones where there is no doubt, DNA, multiple witnesses, etc be executed. Kind of based on the Texas model.
Agreed. If there's evidence to back it up 100% then yes.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 06:50 PM   #114
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Agreed. If there's evidence to back it up 100% then yes.
It is still wrong in principle, even if it's 120%. It is the practice of redundant barbarity.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:01 PM   #115
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It is still wrong in principle, even if it's 120%. It is the practice of redundant barbarity.
Well said.

It is not often that I found myself in agreement with anything said by the late Sir Denis Thatcher, but when he observed that he thought the death penalty was "barbaric" and was utterly opposed to it, I have to say I agree completely with him.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 07:06 PM   #116
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I would prefer that the ones where there is no doubt, DNA, multiple witnesses, etc be executed. Kind of based on the Texas model.
It's only that simple if you see it on the news. I'm skeptical whenever something is presented as obvious or without doubt of any kind. Beyond that you have to adequately address such a lack of doubt in the form of legislation and work it into the legal system. Admitted evidence on either side also comes to mind. In the jury system as it is, if there is any doubt in your mind, you are not supposed to vote guilty. Beyond that it's hard to view Texas as a role model for anything.
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Old Feb 3, 2013, 10:51 PM   #117
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Are you for or against the death penalty?

I believe in the death penalty for anti-cat people.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 07:28 AM   #118
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Locking people up in prison for life was supposed to be a deterrent too and that isn't working so well either.
That's because life imprisonment doesn't really exist. It's a myth brought up by the government to sound tough but in practice it is almost never employed.

Prisoners are eligible to be released after a certain number of years. Prisoners involved in murder are routinely released because they are "deemed safe" and have "served their time". And criminals know this.

If a zero-tolerance policy was employed and life imprisonments meant life imprisonments then I think they would be considerably more effective.

I don't know about you, but if I knew that, before committing a crime, I would be living the rest of my life in the same building, isolated from society, then I wouldn't commit the crime. Whereas, if I think, "No biggie, this guy I hate is dead, I'll be out in 15 years", I don't have the same line of thought. That's exactly why high-profile cases, such as serial killers, are so rare; life imprisonment in these special cases means life.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 10:13 AM   #119
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That's because life imprisonment doesn't really exist. It's a myth brought up by the government to sound tough but in practice it is almost never employed.

Prisoners are eligible to be released after a certain number of years. Prisoners involved in murder are routinely released because they are "deemed safe" and have "served their time". And criminals know this.

If a zero-tolerance policy was employed and life imprisonments meant life imprisonments then I think they would be considerably more effective.

I don't know about you, but if I knew that, before committing a crime, I would be living the rest of my life in the same building, isolated from society, then I wouldn't commit the crime. Whereas, if I think, "No biggie, this guy I hate is dead, I'll be out in 15 years", I don't have the same line of thought. That's exactly why high-profile cases, such as serial killers, are so rare; life imprisonment in these special cases means life.
So explain the 150 year sentences?
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 10:17 AM   #120
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That's because life imprisonment doesn't really exist. It's a myth brought up by the government to sound tough but in practice it is almost never employed.

Prisoners are eligible to be released after a certain number of years. Prisoners involved in murder are routinely released because they are "deemed safe" and have "served their time". And criminals know this.

If a zero-tolerance policy was employed and life imprisonments meant life imprisonments then I think they would be considerably more effective.

I don't know about you, but if I knew that, before committing a crime, I would be living the rest of my life in the same building, isolated from society, then I wouldn't commit the crime. Whereas, if I think, "No biggie, this guy I hate is dead, I'll be out in 15 years", I don't have the same line of thought. That's exactly why high-profile cases, such as serial killers, are so rare; life imprisonment in these special cases means life.
In the US, if you're sentenced to life without parole, then you're not getting out.

Even if you're technically eligible for parole doesn't mean you'll get it. Every now and then, both Charles Manson and Mark David Chapman are eligible for parole and get denied.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 12:41 PM   #121
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So explain the 150 year sentences?
I'm not sure what you want me to explain. The 150 year sentence is the maximum sentence in the US, correct? So, without parole, it is technically a life sentence.

Now, tell me how many cases you've read about where the 150 year sentence is applied without parole, excluding that American banker guy. Like I said, only high-profile cases which most of the public know about do get these sentences. Certainly in the UK, at least, these people manage to skip free out of prison after 15-30 years, despite murder being an automatic life imprisonment.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 12:45 PM   #122
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Certainly in the UK, at least, these people manage to skip free out of prison after 15-30 years, despite murder being an automatic life imprisonment.
A life sentence doesn't mean you are imprisoned for your whole life in the UK.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 01:09 PM   #123
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A life sentence doesn't mean you are imprisoned for your whole life in the UK.
Life imprisonment is a sentence that lasts until death of the prisoner, and murder is an automatic life imprisonment. Like I said, those who are initially sentenced under life imprisonment (e.g. murderers) still manage to skip free after 15-30 years. Most become eligible for parole.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 03:41 PM   #124
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Life imprisonment is a sentence that lasts until death of the prisoner, and murder is an automatic life imprisonment. Like I said, those who are initially sentenced under life imprisonment (e.g. murderers) still manage to skip free after 15-30 years. Most become eligible for parole.
The sentencing system for murder in the UK is actually excellent - something other countries should follow. Unfortunately, the Daily Mail lot completely misunderstand and yell stupid things like "life should mean life". Allow me to explain:

Murder is a much wider crime under English law than most people think. We don't have degrees of murder - just one crime. So it covers a lot of situations (see my post at 107 above - all the examples are murder) but lets take two examples-

(a) Mr A abducts tortures and brutally kills Mr B. That's clearly murder, does he deserve to go to prison for the rest of his life? Well it's quite reasonable to say yes in my opinion.

(b) Mr C gets into an argument with Mr D. He losses his temper and starts a nasty fight. In hospital a doctor gives Mr D a drug he is allergic to, and for that reason he dies. That's murder , but does Mr C really deserve to go to prison for the rest of his life? I'd say no.

So both examples above lead to a murder conviction - people always forget murder does not require an intent to kill.

Under the English system both Mr A and Mr C get life sentences - that is the only sentence for murder. When I get to this point in the argument most people say "well change the system to allow a judge to sentence Mr C to 10, 15, 20 years etc" - but they miss the good part of the UK system...

The judge may hand down a life sentence in both cases, but also specifies a minimum term. This is the minimum amount of time the defendant must serve before eligible for release. In the case of Mr A this could be a "whole life order" where it really does mean life. With Mr C it could be 10 years (or whatever) - but this does not mean Mr C will be released then, only that he can be.

If after 10 years Mr C released he is not 'free' - he is on licence and will be subject to restrictions and monitoring. Mr C may not deserve to be in prison for life, but he still made a serious error of judgment, so he isn't just let out. Common requirements may be meeting a probation officer regularly, not being able to associate with certain people, not being able to move house without notifying the authorities, no going abroad etc. If Mr C breaks a term of the licence or is implicated in a crime he can be immediately recalled to prison (my wife works in criminal justice - her record for recalling someone to prison is 2 hrs after finding out about about a breach). Over time and as trust is built the restrictions can be reduced.

The point is the UK system allows life long monitoring and restriction with real teeth - an ability to recall someone to prison years after release. That's why handing out life sentences to every murderer is so useful. It's also incredibly successful - do you know how many people in the UK are 're-convicted' of murder (or manslaughter) each year (ie kill, serve time, are released, then kill again)? Around three, just three.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 03:48 PM   #125
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Very clear exposition, thank you.
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