Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eutopia minding other people's business...

Via KdT, I read a whine & cheese fest from the EU, carping and moaning about Texas whacking a guy more or less caught red-handed in a bit of cold-blooded murder.

I'm ambivalent on the death penalty. Not that I'm against the idea of seeing evil goblins die, mind you; hell, I think they should sell popcorn for the event, like they did in the old days. I don't object to the whacking, I just wish we had a more reliable institution making sure that the right guy was getting whacked, not the same .gov that can't run a whorehouse at a profit. It's kinda hard to say "Whoops! Sorry 'bout that!" after you've barbecued the wrong guy.

My favorite bit in the article was this, though:
"There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime," the statement said
Whether it does or doesn't makes no nevermind. I'll tell you this: It cuts the recidivism rate way the hell down.


Anonymous said...

You hit it on the head: that bastard ain't gonna do it again. We call this "specific deterrence".

GreatBlueWhale said...

Ah, but there is evidence. Over and over again. There are more recent studies, but this is the one I remembered.

From the National Center for Policy Analysis web site:

Every execution of a convicted murderer results in about 18 fewer murders. Increased arrests and convictions also reduce the number of murders. On the average:

A one percent increase in arrests of murderers results in about 250 fewer murders.

A one percent increase in convictions of murderers results in about 105 fewer murders.

Capital punishment reduces the number of murders because it discourages potential murderers from committing the crime.

When criminals believe that arrest, conviction and execution are more likely, they commit fewer homicides.

Of the approximately 20,000 murders committed each year in the United States, only 38 percent result in a conviction. Only one-tenth of one percent result in execution.
The first scholarly study of the effects of capital punishment on the murder rate was done in 1975. The study was introduced in argument before the Supreme Court in the case of Gregg v. Georgia, which upheld the constitutionality of capital punishment.

The latest study shows that the deterrent effect of capital punishment is more than twice as strong as the 1975 study found. --DRH

Source: Southern Economic Journal, July 1985, 300 Hanes Hall 019-A. Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514. (919) 966-5261.


GreatBlueWhale said...

Here's a more recent article citing more studies.,2933,280215,00.html

Ken said...

That's fine legwork, greatbluewhale. As Tam more or less said, the only thing that gives me pause is that if we get it wrong, how do we make it right?

GreatBlueWhale said...

I'd be happy to say, "OK, everyone sentenced to death before 2000 is hereby commuted to life in prison without parole, just in case there was a mistake."

Now, for all convictions after 1/1/2000, you take them as they come. I think the system works much better now than it did 20-30 years ago and the science, though grossly exagerated in movies and television, is much better, too. Today, I have a lot more confidence that the right person was caught, convicted, and sentenced. Does that mean mistakes won't be made today? No, but I think it a lot less likely.

When the Framers wrote, "in order to form a more perfect union," they could have written, "in order to form Utopia" but they didn't. They knew better. They knew Man. But they had great confidence in the citizens of our young country to do the right thing. That didn't always happen. In too many parts of our nation, hasty judgements turned into even more hasty executions. That is very seldomethe case now. Nationally, the average time before execution is carried out is over 11 years. This is skewed down by the number of criminals that refuse appeals and are executed rather quickly. Even in Texas, fast approaching their 400th execution since the SCOTUS allowed reinstatement of the death penalty, the average is over 10 years.

If you can't prove your innocence in over 11 years, and usually much more, after being convicted and sentenced to death by 12 citizens who are usually loath to even consider the death penalty, then I think it's reasonable to expect you're guilty.

So Olds, I understand the pause -- as long as it doesn't become paralysis.

Anonymous said...

I remember this one. Particularly nasty crime. Shot the lady in the head in a bullet proof pay room so she could not hide when he stuck the gun in the hole.

To me what stinks is a case that open and shut takes nearly 10 years to take the guy out.

Living in Harris County Texas (why nail the most each year) I keep voting for DA's that push the penalty and try to get it done faster.

What a waste of my money to feed and pay for this guy for nearly 10 years. We should have nailed him back in 98 when he was at trail.

Anonymous said...

my problem with the death penalty is that, in my opinion, it violates the equal protection clause of the constitution.

If you have enough money, you get off; example: O.J.

If you have some but not quite enough money, you get life; example: the Menendez brothers (the left, reloaded, and went back to shoot their parents again, for pete's sake)

If you don't have any money, you get the needle; example: Scott Peterson and every other poor son of bitch that doesn't have a million or more in the bank to fund a defense.

Giving murderers a dirt nap doesn't bother me much, but the inequality with which it is enforced, that bothers me a lot.


GreatBlueWhale said...

I understand, but why do we say no death penalty because some who deserve it don't get it, instead of let's make sure that everyone who does deserve it DOES get it?

Every case stands on it's own. If this were a perfect world, except for the one man who raped, tortured and murdered a young girl, and was caught and convicted for his crime, he would deserve the death penalty. If this were the only crime in the entire world, Im sure you wouldn't have a problem with it.

Well, what if it were a perfect world except for TWO men who committed identical crimes as above in separate jurisdictions. One gets the death penalty, the other, life in prison without parole. Does the one deserve the death penalty less because the other only got life without parole? Hardly.

There are egregious examples of injustice. Men in prison who are innocent is one, OJ, Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie is another. However, our reaction should be to strive to RAISE the bar for justice on both sides, not lower it. There is not only justice for the individual, but justice for the community. Neither should be slighted.