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Another reason to abolish the death penalty
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Post Another reason to abolish the death penalty 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/opinion/28mon3.html

If the many reasons for abolishing the death penalty haven't swayed you, maybe this will. It's far more expensive for states to execute people than it is to hold them for life without parole. If ethics don't matter to you, maybe money does.

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I'm perfectly willing to argue the death penalty on ethical/moral grounds, but this is a truly absurd argument.

Not without reason does the death penalty opponent author fail to note WHY death row inmates cost so much. They do because of the 24/7/365 efforts of anti death penalty lawyers to put up as many barricades and delays as possible to execution of the pronounced sentence, with the resulting laws and court decisions that require inmates to be provided decades of waiting time in max security prison facilities.

Should we negate every law and penalty if lawyers come up with enough blizzards of appeals and objections to delay their imposition indefinitely?

If criminal defendants in all classes had the same access to unlimited legal counsel and free filing of legal actions as death row inmates, the US court system would be shut down in a week. Working Americans should rest assured that defending themselves with their own funds for even a low level first time felony would likely bankrupt them and cause them to lose their homes and jobs. For a career criminal, it costs them absolutely nothing to jerk you off for decades and laugh as the court continues to grind out case after case for their worthless asses. To the 1% of convicted felons who do not meet that description, I sincerely apologize.

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I think the author does express those as causes, thrice, and also points out that you can't simply banish them, because that would make the likelihood of executing an innocent person even higher. We have put innocent people to death even WITH all the rigmarole you cite. Imagine if we did away with it. If you want to be able to kill people for "justice," you better be willing to pay the high price of making sure your case is 100% foolproof. If you're not willing to pay that price, let's just do away with the practice, shall we?

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I think I've made the point before that I'm not hell bent on keeping capital punishment, Dora. But I would also want a few other things thrown into the bargain. For instance, once we've established that someone will never walk free again, I'd want to see an end to the ameneties they enjoy. There's no need to college courses, psychological therapy, gyms and libraries for them. Those are all things that average citizens do not have free access to, and would actually improve their lives and self actualization. I personally don't care if Death Row Joe ever finishes his bachelor's degree, and I resent getting billed for it. You can bet your petutie that it wouldn't cost you $50,000 a year if you kept him in a cell with a tv set, a chin up bar and an unlimited supply of soft cover books to read. We owe him nothing. If he's got the same food and recreation as someone sitting in a nursing home, he's doing better than most people in the world, and should be grateful that he's escaped the noose. That should be the end of the story. Unless, of course, you think that the "high cost of the death penalty" WON'T happen if you let him live in your care for another 30-40 years. Take out all the artificially imposed legal costs, and it's all the same. Oh, and by the way, under the Thrice plan, he's got no more access to lawyers or courts unless he has specific evidence of his innocence to present. As you're no doubt aware, under the current setup, a convicted con is entitled to unlimited access to a law library and can file briefs and appeals for free every single day, both of which are priviledges that you will never have unless you have the misfortune of being convicted of a felony.

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Post One obvious problem with the Thrice Plan . . . 
is that depriving deathrow inmates of educational opportunities results in even greater deprivations and human rights violations for those who are later found to be innocent. "Oops but at least we helped you get your B.A." is better than "Oops we kept you caged like an animal, good luck, buddy."

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Please document those legions of exonerated innocent death row inmates please who have been released to rebuild their lives. I'm inclined to doubt they would exceed your finger and toe count. Also note the growing trend to provide substantial financial compensation to those who are exonerated for such crimes. Does that justify giving a blank educational check to thousands while law abiding young people on the outside can't afford to go to college themselves, while we give it to this overwhelmingly guilty group AT NO CHARGE?

And let's be certain to make a very clear distinction between some murderer who filed his 22nd appeal and got a piece of evidence thrown out and beat the rap, versus some poor guy who was wrongfully convicted and was exonerated as totally innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. The latter are truly unfortunate errors of an imperfect system, and thankfully are rare as hen's teeth.

And also note that the Thrice plan was a condition of eliminating the death penalty, thus rendering the Death Row population extinct as a classification. We're now talking about convicted lifers without parole before the plan would be implimented.

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Does that justify giving a blank educational check to thousands while law abiding young people on the outside can't afford to go to college themselves, while we give it to this overwhelmingly guilty group AT NO CHARGE?

Soitenly. It keeps the guilty occupied trying to beat the system while providing the innocent with resources to contest injustices. Probably worth every penny considering the alternative(s). Giving them access to college courses and law books isn't exactly tantamount to enrolling them in Harvard Law School.

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OdinofAzgard wrote:
Does that justify giving a blank educational check to thousands while law abiding young people on the outside can't afford to go to college themselves, while we give it to this overwhelmingly guilty group AT NO CHARGE?

Soitenly. It keeps the guilty occupied trying to beat the system while providing the innocent with resources to contest injustices. Probably worth every penny considering the alternative(s). Giving them access to college courses and law books isn't exactly tantamount to enrolling them in Harvard Law School.


Exactly.

My dad volunteers at the Shakopee Women's Correctional Facility, and you'd be amazed at how many people who work in the system have the attitude of "Just lock 'em up and throw away the key." He teaches them job interviewing and computer skills, and he has to fight the administration every step of the way. He's not getting paid tax dollars to do this either, mind you. He's doing this out of the goodness of his heart. And still, so many seem to resent people they've written off as unworthy getting any kind of education or attention or assistance.

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dorajar wrote:
My dad volunteers at the Shakopee Women's Correctional Facility, and you'd be amazed at how many people who work in the system have the attitude of "Just lock 'em up and throw away the key." He teaches them job interviewing and computer skills, and he has to fight the administration every step of the way. He's not getting paid tax dollars to do this either, mind you. He's doing this out of the goodness of his heart. And still, so many seem to resent people they've written off as unworthy getting any kind of education or attention or assistance.


Now that's certainly a noble effort not to be undermined. However we're talking about people who are convicted of such heinous crimes that we don't want them back in society, one way or the other. Even though your dad isn't being paid tax dollars, I think it would be well worth tax dollars to have someone go in to correctional facilities to teach such skills to inmates. Equip them with something to help them build a better life for themselves within the boundaries of society.

I'm not exactly hyped about the death penalty myself. But I think it's a necessary evil. I don't think it would be too much to ask to remove some of the added luxuries from people on death row or serving life sentences. College is a big one. Our tax dollars go towards the education of people who our justice system have determined should never see the light of day again, but the average law abiding citizen is shunted in to massive debt for the same endeavor? Doesn't sound right to me at all.

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I have a feeling that the college experience of your typical student and that of an inmate confined to death row are two pretty different things.

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dorajar wrote:
I have a feeling that the college experience of your typical student and that of an inmate confined to death row are two pretty different things.


Oh yes, the experience is quite different. But how much different is the cost? That's mainly what I'm getting at. Even if the cost of college for an inmate is half that of a law abiding student, that's still money that could be going to the law abiding student.

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I did some poking around to see what the situation actually is. This sums it up pretty neatly:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_17_102/ai_92805388/
Quote:
Inmates receive college education from San Quentin
Jet, Oct 14, 2002

Prisoners at the San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, CA, are making the most of their time by getting a college education while serving out their sentences behind bars.

San Quentin began offering college classes in 1988 with volunteer teachers and textbooks provided by Patten College, a nondenominational private college in Oakland.

Public funding for college education in prisons across the U.S. was pulled in the mid-'90s by politicians who were against giving criminals a free education. Proponents argue the programs pay off by producing inmates who are more likely to stay out of prison when released.

So far, about a half-dozen prison alumni have completed their coursework at Patten after their release and a few have gone on to graduate schools.

"People feel, 'Why should somebody who commits a crime get a free ride to college?' That's the position of the state and the legislature and probably most of the people of California," said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.

Stephen Steurer, executive director of the Correctional Education Association, says that these college programs exist for the public's safety. "Education does change minds, teaches people how to think better, [and] how to find alternatives to the way they used to do things."

In California, money for the San Quentin program dried up in 1994, but the program "took on a life of its own," said Patten President Gary Moncher.

Faculty who didn't want to quit recruited volunteer teachers. Publishers donated textbooks and donors sent cash. Today about 200 inmates attend college classes at the prison's Robert E. Burton Adult School.

Death row inmates also can take some classes, although they are not allowed to leave their cells. A teacher delivers instruction to the prisoner through the bars.

Parole's not an option for the condemned and officials sometimes get complaints from people who don't think death row prisoners deserve or need education. But correction officials say prison education not only produces inmates less likely to return to prison on their release, it also produces inmates who are better behaved while they're in prison.

Death row inmates get their degrees sent to them by mail. Inmates in the general prison population, however, get their own commencement with traditional caps and gowns in the prison chapel where friends and family are allowed to attend.


Teachers are volunteering and textbooks are donated. Doesn't sound like anyone's tax dollars are being used to (god forbid) improve anyone's mind. We can all sleep easy!

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dorajar wrote:
Teachers are volunteering and textbooks are donated. Doesn't sound like anyone's tax dollars are being used to (god forbid) improve anyone's mind. We can all sleep easy!


Sarcasm only works when we completely and utterly disagree on something. My comment was actually geared towards wanting to use tax dollars to improve people's minds.

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praecorloth wrote:
dorajar wrote:
Teachers are volunteering and textbooks are donated. Doesn't sound like anyone's tax dollars are being used to (god forbid) improve anyone's mind. We can all sleep easy!


Sarcasm only works when we completely and utterly disagree on something. My comment was actually geared towards wanting to use tax dollars to improve people's minds.


Oh I know it was, Prae. My sarcasm wasn't directed at you personally. Just the general mindset that's so rampant around here that my money is mine and shouldn't be used to help anyone else at all ever. Mine mine mine. My life is so hard and all these poor people on welfare have it so easy. I just...grow weary, you know? I'm an actor, for god's sake, I'm not exactly rolling in the dough. But I happen to believe that we all do better when we all do better. That individuals can't be extracted from communities. And even people who have made mistakes deserve compassion and a chance to do better. I just look around and see so much bitterness and fear and anger and hoarding and selfishness and suspicion. I wish we could all relax and share and play nice. There's enough to go around.

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dorajar wrote:
Oh I know it was, Prae. My sarcasm wasn't directed at you personally. Just the general mindset that's so rampant around here that my money is mine and shouldn't be used to help anyone else at all ever. Mine mine mine. My life is so hard and all these poor people on welfare have it so easy. I just...grow weary, you know? I'm an actor, for god's sake, I'm not exactly rolling in the dough. But I happen to believe that we all do better when we all do better. That individuals can't be extracted from communities. And even people who have made mistakes deserve compassion and a chance to do better. I just look around and see so much bitterness and fear and anger and hoarding and selfishness and suspicion. I wish we could all relax and share and play nice. There's enough to go around.


Oh okay, gotcha now. Yeah it does seem that people tend to miss the point of aiding others. Possibly the best, most hilarious and at the same time saddest example of this is the protester at one of the health care meetings holding up a sign saying "Don't steal from Medicare to fund socialized medicine." The irony there of course being that Medicare is socialized medicine.

But I think people have a right to be weary of taxes as well. Leaving convicts and welfare queens out of it, we pay taxes for a lot of projects, projects that don't receive tax dollars. Social security is probably the crowning example of this. Pay money in to the jar, the jar doesn't have a bottom and the moolah goes in to various politicians' pet projects with the promise that it will be paid back...Someday.

Fact of the matter is that law makers have shown consistently that they're not capable of creating systems to help those who are down on their luck or what have you without some serious flaws to their system. So when a new system comes along to assist another group of people who are down on their luck, people start to get gun shy. Another program that will miss their target group.

I've got a few friends who have been given a serious run around by Minnesota. They went through to get housing aid and some other state funded aid. After a few days of paperwork and several meetings, they had literally been given a hard number of the amount of monthly money they were eligible for. Then their paperwork was "lost" and no one bothered to tell them until after the 30 day limit (which they were not told existed), at which point the process needed to be done all over again. Their paperwork was "lost" again but fortunately they called to check the status and found that it was lost again. So they resubmitted. After resubmitting they get a letter saying that no one in their house is eligible for any kind of aid.

All the while listening to Blues Traveler: Run Around. Smile

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Yeah, I get that the gubment isn't always the most efficient at helping people. But I guess I'd be more likely to believe that was people's real issue with government programs if they were out there on their own trying to make a difference--volunteering, working for non-profits, actively working to improve our community--instead of just sitting back and bitching. Then it seems that they really don't give a crap if other people are actually helped or not, they just don't want anyone else benefiting from their money.

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dorajar wrote:
Yeah, I get that the gubment isn't always the most efficient at helping people. But I guess I'd be more likely to believe that was people's real issue with government programs if they were out there on their own trying to make a difference--volunteering, working for non-profits, actively working to improve our community--instead of just sitting back and bitching. Then it seems that they really don't give a crap if other people are actually helped or not, they just don't want anyone else benefiting from their money.


Point. Smile

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Some of the points made here are a gross misperception (or mischaracterization) of the sentiments of the "Scrooges".

Do you seriously think that most people who object to prison luxuries think they're going to get some huge tax rebate if they were eliminated? I'm certainly under no such illusion. People who have sincerely contemplated these issues don't object on the basis of self serving stinginess. They do so because they see so many resources that could be directed toward helping people who are actually making an effort to better themselves diverted away and given to people who have made no such effort. The reality is that personalities are formed in early life, and a 180 degree change of attitude and lifestyle in a habitual criminal is an abberation, and far from the norm. It certainly doesn't cost $50,000 per year to meet the basic needs and supervision of an imprisoned convict. So from that standpoint, it could be fairly said that perhaps $30-40,000 per year of that sum is TAKEN AWAY from the charitable project of your choice and given to a sociopath in most cases.

People simply do not understand our criminal justice system. You have to work pretty hard at crime, in most cases, to actually be sentenced to prison. Most minor offenses, whether they be burglary, auto theft, drug possession, and many others, are handled in local jails and workhouses. Most who wind up in prison have either hit a home run with a big crime like a murder or armed robbery, or have accumulated such a lengthy track record of other low level felonies that they've actually accumulated enough sentencing points to earn prison time. The latter are relatively rare. The people who actually wind up in prison have amply earned their sentences, and are highly unlikely to ever change their lifestyles other than to turn to different kinds of crime because they're too old to bully others or run fast enough anymore.

I certainly invite people to advocate for programs to divert young people from crime and give them opportunities for education and independent living. But if you choose to stubbornly cling to some foolish notion that our prisons are full of noble poor men who stole bread to feed their families, you're deliberately delusional, because the facts don't bear it out.

It's also quite presumtuous to paint conservatives and those who oppose lavish prison spending as miserly, considering that statistics show they donate far more of their personal income and wealth to charity than liberals do.

You can look it up, and learn the facts about who gives the most of their own volunteered time and money versus those who contribute hot air, finger pointing, and taking credit for giving away other peoples' money...

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/conservatives_more_liberal_giv.html



Last edited by thrice on Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:11 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post Textbook 
This is a wonderful example of exactly what's wrong with our national political dialog today.

Isn't it funny how whenever a conservative or moderate wants to either support or eliminate a particular social/political strategy, it's because they're selfish, wrongheaded, hardhearted, and spiteful?

On the other hand, when a liberal wants to push or end a program, it's because they're noble, unselfish, generous and altruistic? When did you ever hear, for instance, that liberals wanted to abolish abstinence based sex ed because they wanted to take the money from it and put it back in their own pockets?

Could there be some wild possibility that they oppose it because it's simply bad public policy and a waste of finite resources that could be much more productively spent elsewhere- not to mention a demonstratably ineffective and often counterproductive effort?

Is it so impossible to imagine that moderates and conservatives might also use the same thought process to oppose what they see as bad and counterproductive public policy, and use the same freedom of speech to support putting resources into demonstratably much more effective programs?

We will never have a productive political dialog here or nationwide as long as the parties automatically assume bad faith and self interest in the motives of those whom with we disagree.

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Post I've perused a study that suggests conservatives give more 
time and money than liberals and IIRC, it was only true of religious conservatives. Non-religious conservatives gave less than non-religious liberals.

It's good that religious conservatives give, but kinda sad they have to be scammed into it.

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thrice wrote:
This is a wonderful example of exactly what's wrong with our national political dialog today.

Isn't it funny how whenever a conservative or moderate wants to either support or eliminate a particular social/political strategy, it's because they're selfish, wrongheaded, hardhearted, and spiteful?

On the other hand, when a liberal wants to push or end a program, it's because they're noble, unselfish, generous and altruistic? When did you ever hear, for instance, that liberals wanted to abolish abstinence based sex ed because they wanted to take the money from it and put it back in their own pockets?

Could there be some wild possibility that they oppose it because it's simply bad public policy and a waste of finite resources that could be much more productively spent elsewhere- not to mention a demonstratably ineffective and often counterproductive effort?



So you're saying that conservatives don't generally believe in lower taxes? They're all for a high level of taxation, as long as the funds are allocated "efficiently"? Huh. Mea Culpa, I guess...

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thrice wrote:


I certainly invite people to advocate for programs to divert young people from crime and give them opportunities for education and independent living. But if you choose to stubbornly cling to some foolish notion that our prisons are full of noble poor men who stole bread to feed their families, you're deliberately delusional, because the facts don't bear it out.



As long as we're working on not mischaracterizing each other's views, let's do away with stuff like this, shall we?

This is what I mean. I don't have to believe that someone behaved nobly to still consider them human, redeemable, and deserving of compassion. I know the world isn't made up of cupcakes and rainbows. But I guess I did take some of my Catholic upbringing to heart too, and Jesus had a lot to say about the way we treat "the least among us": prostitutes, prisoners, prodigal sons. I look at our prisons full of inmates, the level of violence in our society, the ugly side of humanity, and I see something that is a part of me, that I am a part of, that I am interested in healing. I feel like many conservatives see something separate from and other than themselves, and are more interested in condemnation and moralizing and self-righteous insistence that they are not a part of the very society that creates criminals in the first place, and it's all individual choice and corruption and to hell with people who haven't followed the one proscribed path. I'm not ennobling criminals, or completely abdicating the role of personal responsibility, but I am acknowledging context and our inextricable connection to each other. I simply don't believe we can put 1 out of every 100 American adults in prison and shrug our shoulders and chalk it up to 1 out of every 100 people being a "sociopath." We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. And we're all a part of this thing, like it or not. So when you say that one needs to work pretty hard to actually be sentenced to prison, I have my doubts. Certainly you need to mess up. Certainly you need to make bad choices and do some possibly evil things. But do you need to be a hopeless sociopath, undeserving of another chance, education, or redemption? I don't believe so.

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"So you're saying that conservatives don't generally believe in lower taxes?"

Uh, yeah, they generally do. And who shouldn't be for keeping government's confiscation of your earnings and labor to the absolute minimum and requiring them to justify every dime they take? Government ASKING citizens for money to operate is a principle of this society and economic system. When the day comes that we have to beg the government hat in hand for the fruit of our own labors, we aren't living in America anymore. We've degenerated into some 1950's Soviet Gulag.

Yes, of course I think taxes should be minimized. I also think that certain basic services need to be operated by the government that can't be efficiently delivered by the private sector, or will be ignored because they are revenue losers. How many such programs should exist is of course the bone of contention. It would also be interesting to see the philosophical split between the 47% of households that actually pay no federal taxes, and the other 53% that do. Once again, it's pretty easy to be generous with other people's money. Too poor to pay taxes? No problem. Donate 25% of your time, in lieu of cash. Doesn't seem unreasonable to expect that you pay for the services you get same as those who actually pay theirs in greenbacks.

I also think the ability of American taxpayers (as in actually paying taxes) to direct their funds to the charitable and social serving works of their choice should be utilized as much as possible, in the form of tax deductible contributions to charities they actually believe in. As opposed to those they are strongarmed into supporting, whether they believe in them or not. Every time Thrice makes a tax deductible contribution, he supports what he believes in, and sends less to the idiots and crooks in Congress to throw away or hand out to their buddies. It's possibly the most pure and direct form of democracy that still remains in this country.

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Post Re: Another reason to abolish the death penalty 
dorajar wrote:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/opinion/28mon3.html

If the many reasons for abolishing the death penalty haven't swayed you, maybe this will. It's far more expensive for states to execute people than it is to hold them for life without parole. If ethics don't matter to you, maybe money does.


We just need to execute them more efficiently.

None of this 30 years of appeals nonsense.

If you're a proven violent criminal (repeat violent-crimes offender) and you've been given a death sentence, you should be taken out back and shot, then sent out with the garbage.

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thrice wrote:
Please document those legions of exonerated innocent death row inmates please who have been released to rebuild their lives. I'm inclined to doubt they would exceed your finger and toe count. Also note the growing trend to provide substantial financial compensation to those who are exonerated for such crimes.


I urge you to watch this movie and then rethink your presumptions. http://movies.nytimes.com/2005/10/21/movies/21afte.html

I went to a film screening of "At the Death House Door" last year in Chicago at the Northwestern College of Law and the number of people who had be wrongfully convicted and later exonerated, took up two rows (of I would guess 20+) in the auditorium.

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It's good to see justice for these people. It is relevant to note that the vast majority of the vacated convictions date back 20-25 years or more when DNA technology was in its infancy. Do we make policy going forward based on the errors of a less technologically capable past? In today's system, the examination of a murder victim for DNA material would be thorough and routine, as would be a comparison to the suspect's DNA profile. The exonerated prisoners you cite did not have the benefit of that process. They would now. With the increased use of DNA processing for crime scenes to find areas that a suspect simply touched, the exactness of the identifications should only get greater in the future.

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