Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dear Mark,

Don't be too hard on the Italians; they have been using the Coliseum as an anti-death penalty symbol for years (as that ABC article states).

I can appreciate your ambivalence about the death penalty. It's tricky negotiating any of these these subjects fraught with emotions and emotional manipulation. But the argument you make for being in favor of executions, that it's what you would want should a family member be murdered, is one of these emotionally manipulative arguments we should be skeptical of.

Let's leave aside the question of whether the government should be in the business of carrying out personal vendettas (I, for instance, would want executed anyone who might hurt my dog, and that motherfucker who broke into mine and Chris' cars the night I broke my arms) or of killing folks (which, for a small government dude like yourself, are prospects that might give you more pause than they seem to) and focus on some of the non-moral variables you referred to (I agree that these are the most compelling anti-death penalty rationales). Here are the circumstances under which you would see your loved one's killer executed.

Much as you might hypothetically want to see the hypothetical killer executed, you'll only get to in particular circumstances. If your loved one is killed by a wealthy, white person with their own attorney (or, in some circumstances, by an internationally reviled dictator) they are not likely to face execution.

Talk to you later,

*This article is long, but it's good.


Hrasky said...

There is clear evidence available to support that numerous mistakes have been made by the justice system that have resulted in the deaths of innocent people. Also, the death penalty poses very little threat as a deterrent. Those are reasons enough for me to be against it. Certainly if someone killed my mom my position would likely change but i do believe that we should have a justice system that does not make laws and create policies that are founded on revenge.

Mark said...

Good points from both of you.

I won't deny that this issue IS an emotional issue for me. I try to divorce emotion as much as possible when it comes to political/social stances, but this is one that I can't.

And to what Chris was saying, I agree that it isn't a great deterrent, and that my emotions and desires WOULD be very vengeful. I would very much be in the position of "you took my wife's life, well, then I want the state to take yours." Again, I'm not proud of that. I feel weird feeling righteous about human life like that, but it's just how I feel.

I especially feel weird about it, b/c one could I argue that I got my revenge when the killer was arrested and given a life sentence. In effect, his life IS taken from him....well sorta, b/c then I could argue that his "institutionalized" life is one of minimal freedom, while my loved one is dead.

See...I'm just all mixed up over this issue. Probably always will be. But thanks for both of your thoughts.

Mark said...

oh...and one question, Bryan.

In those statistics about whites getting capital punishment less than non-whites...are there numbers on how many accused whites vs. accused non-whites had private attorneys?

As you said in your post, I imagine a veteran attorney, especially a high priced one who specializes in criminal law would be able to negotiate and maneuver to get their client a lesser sentence than would a tax attorney.