Monday, September 26, 2011

STATE SANCTIONED MURDER or for those with weak stomachs THE DEATH PENALTY


I have been an opponent of the Death Penalty for many years, before that I really didn’t THINK too much about it. To me, It was just another LAW in the penal system and at that time, I gave way too much respect to people who enacted and carried out LAWS such as this, believing they knew what they were doing.
I can remember the exact day that I gave this LAW a bit more thought than “WELL THEY DESERVE DEATH, DON’T THEY, AFTER WHAT THEY’VE DONE?” I was sitting in a Unitarian Church when the minister said, “Now, let us think about the Death Penalty and why it is wrong for states to legally murder their citizens because no matter how they phrase it, The Death Penalty is MURDER.”
Wow, I thought to myself, that’s a different way to look at it. After that I couldn’t stop thinking about this topic. I did a little research on the subject (it was the 70’s when Personal Computers and Google were not part of everyday ‘take for granted’ living) and I physically had to go to the library or buy magazines and newspapers that featured any article referring to this law.
During this thumbnail investigation, I found out some startling facts that not only did I not know but I would estimate a guess, hardly anyone knew who supported Capital Punishment.
One jump off the page fact, believe it or not, ***it is way more expensive to execute someone than imprison them for life without parole.*** IT’S TRUE! So there goes that old rumor mill EYE FOR AN EYE reason for this law from those who want people to die for their crimes. Here’s one little (unknown) fact from old Rick Perry’s state (THE WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION OF STATE SANCTIONED MURDER):
A review of the literature about the death penalty shows that no state has saved money by using it. For example, A Dallas Morning News study of costs in Texas, the state which has executed the most prisoners in the U.S., showed the cost of executing a prisoner, including all expenses from trial through appeals, and assuming the case concluded in 7.5 years, to be $2,316,655; Imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security for 40 years in Texas costs about $750,000.
Source of Texas Information: Christy Hoppe, "Executions Cost Texas Millions," The Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992 p. 12A. MORE HERE: http://greensboropeerpressure.blogspot.com/2006/08/economic-impact-of-death-penalty-vs_03.html

The next bit of information I got from a Google search which clears the air about why the Death Penalty is wrong and should be abolished:

Should the death penalty be allowed?
1. Morality
"Ultimately, the moral question surrounding capital punishment in America has less to do with whether those convicted of violent crime deserve to die than with whether state and federal governments deserve to kill those whom it has imprisoned. The legacy of racial apartheid, racial bias, and ethnic discrimination is unavoidably evident in the administration of capital punishment in America. Death sentences are imposed in a criminal justice system that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent. This is an immoral condition that makes rejecting the death penalty on moral grounds not only defensible but necessary for those who refuse to accept unequal or unjust administration of punishment." - Bryan Stevenson, JD
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2. Constitutionality
"Death is... an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality, and in its enormity... The fatal constitutional infirmity in the punishment of death is that it treats 'members of the human race as nonhumans, as objects to be toyed with and discarded. [It is] thus inconsistent with the fundamental premise of the Clause that even the vilest criminal remains a human being possessed of common human dignity.' [quoting himself from Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 257 (1972)] As such it is a penalty that 'subjects the individual to a fate forbidden by the principle of civilized treatment guaranteed by the [Clause].' [quoting C.J. Warren from Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101 (1958)] I therefore would hold, on that ground alone, that death is today a cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Clause... I would set aside the death sentences imposed... as violative of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments."
William J. Brennan, JD
Justice of the US Supreme Court
Dissenting opinion in Gregg v. Georgia (347 KB) July 2, 1976
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3. Deterrence
"There is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than long terms of imprisonment. States that have death penalty laws do not have lower crime rates or murder rates than states without such laws. And states that have abolished capital punishment show no significant changes in either crime or murder rates. The death penalty has no deterrent effect. Claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders have been thoroughly discredited by social science research." - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
"The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers," ACLU.org
Apr. 9, 2007
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4. Retribution
CON: "Retribution is just another word for revenge, and the desire for revenge is one of the lowest human emotions — perhaps sometimes understandable, but not really a rational response to a critical situation. To kill the person who has killed someone close to you is simply to continue the cycle of violence which ultimately destroys the avenger as well as the offender. That this execution somehow give 'closure' to a tragedy is a myth. Expressing one’s violence simply reinforces the desire to express it. Just as expressing anger simply makes us more angry. It does not drain away. It contaminates the otherwise good will which any human being needs to progress in love and understanding." - Raymond A. Schroth, SJ
Jesuit Priest and Community Professor of the Humanities at St. Peter's College
Email to ProCon.org
Sep. 5, 2008
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5. Irrevocable Mistakes
CON: "...Since the reinstatement of the modern death penalty, 87 people have been freed from death row because they were later proven innocent. That is a demonstrated error rate of 1 innocent person for every 7 persons executed. When the consequences are life and death, we need to demand the same standard for our system of justice as we would for our airlines... It is a central pillar of our criminal justice system that it is better that many guilty people go free than that one innocent should suffer... Let us reflect to ensure that we are being just. Let us pause to be certain we do not kill a single innocent person. This is really not too much to ask for a civilized society." - Russ Feingold, JD
US Senator (D-WI)
introducing the "National Death Penalty Moratorium Act of 2000"
April 26, 2000
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6. Cost of Death vs. Life in Prison
CON: "In the course of my work, I believe I have reviewed every state and federal study of the costs of the death penalty in the past 25 years. One element is common to all of these studies: They all concluded that the cost of the death penalty amounts to a net expense to the state and the taxpayers. Or to put it differently,the death penalty is clearly more expensive than a system handling similar cases with a lesser punishment. [It] combines the costliest parts of both punishments: lengthy and complicated death penalty trials, followed by incarceration for life... Everything that is needed for an ordinary trial is needed for a death penalty case, only more so:
• More pre-trial time...
• More experts...
• Twice as many attorneys...
• Two trials instead of one will be conducted: one for guilt and one for punishment.
• And then will come a series of appeals during which the inmates are held in the high security of death row." - Richard C. Dieter, MS, JD
Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center
Testimony to the Judiciary Committee of the Colorado State House of Representatives regarding "House Bill 1094 - Costs of the Death Penalty and Related Issues"
Feb. 7, 2007
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7. Race
CON: "Despite the fact that African Americans make up only 13 percent of the nation’s population, almost 50 percent of those currently on the federal death row are African American. And even though only three people have been executed under the federal death penalty in the modern era, two of them have been racial minorities. Furthermore, all six of the next scheduled executions are African Americans. The U.S. Department of Justice’s own figures reveal that between 2001 and 2006, 48 percent of defendants in federal cases in which the death penalty was sought were African Americans… the biggest argument against the death penalty is that it is handed out in a biased, racially disparate manner." - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
"NAACP Remains Steadfast in Ending Death Penalty & Fighting Injustice in America's Justice System,” NAACP website
June 28, 2007
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8. Income Level
CON: "Who pays the ultimate penalty for crimes? The poor. Who gets the death penalty? The poor. After all the rhetoric that goes on in legislative assemblies, in the end, when the net is cast out, it is the poor who are selected to die in this country. And why do poor people get the death penalty? It has everything to do with the kind of defense they get. Money gets you good defense. That's why you'll never see an O.J. Simpson on death row. As the saying goes: 'Capital punishment means them without the capital get the punishment.'" - Helen Prejean, MA
Anti-death penalty activist and author of Dead Man Walking
"Would Jesus Pull the Switch?,” Salt of the Earth
1997
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9. Attorney Quality
CON: "[A] shocking two out of three death penalty convictions have been overturned on appeal because of police and prosecutorial misconduct, as well as serious errors by incompetent court-appointed defense attorneys with little experience in trying capital cases. How can we contend that we provide equal justice under the law when we do not provide adequate representation to the poor in cases where a life hangs in the balance? We, the Congress, must bear our share of responsibility for this deplorable situation. In short, while others, like Governor Ryan in Illinois, have recognized the flaws in the death penalty, the Congress still just doesn't get it. This system is broken." - John Conyers, Jr., JD
US Congressman (D-MI)
Hearing for the Innocence Protection Act of 2000 before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives
June 20, 2000
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10. Physicians at Executions
CON: "The American Medical Association's policy is clear and unambiguous... requiring physicians to participate in executions violates their oath to protect lives and erodes public confidence in the medical profession. A physician is a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life... The use of a physician's clinical skill and judgment for purposes other than promoting an individual's health and welfare undermines a basic ethical foundation of medicine — first, do no harm. The guidelines in the AMA Code of Medical Ethics address physician participation in executions involving lethal injection. The ethical opinion explicitly prohibits selecting injection sites for executions by lethal injection, starting intravenous lines, prescribing, administering, or supervising the use of lethal drugs, monitoring vital signs, on site or remotely, and declaring death." - American Medical Association (AMA)
"AMA: Physician Participation in Lethal Injection Violates Medical Ethics," press release from the AMA website
July 17, 2006
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The list above contains the ten Con’s to see the PRO’s Click this link:
http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000

Now to continue with the reason for today's blog. Below read the thoughts of a man who was right in the middle of the State Sanctioned Murder Machine. It will surprise you that so many who are caught up in the injustice of this law and do not like it but have to go through the motions of carrying it out. The main motivation is earning a paycheck. It is just too morbid and too sad. thinkingblue

I Ordered Death in Georgia

By Allen Ault, The Daily Beast

25 September 11

The state's former DOC commissioner on 'rehearsed murder.'

I can't always remember their names, but in my nightmares I can see their faces. As the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections from 1992 until 1995, I oversaw five executions. The first two were Thomas Dean Stevens and Christopher Burger, accomplices in a monstrous crime: as teenagers in 1977, they robbed and raped a cabdriver, put him in the trunk of a car, and pushed the vehicle into a pond. I had no doubt that they were guilty: they admitted it to me. But now it was 1993 and they were in their 30s. All these years later, after a little frontal-lobe development, they were entirely different people.

On execution days, I always drove from Atlanta to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. I knew death row well: 20 years earlier, I had built it. The state had hired me as the warden of Georgia Diagnostic in 1971, where I renovated a special cell block for especially violent offenders. After I left Georgia in 1977, the state reinstated the death penalty and turned the cell block I had developed into death row.

The state executed Stevens first, in June 1993, and then Burger in December. In both instances, I visited them in a cell next to the electric-chair chamber, where they counted down the hours until they died. They were calm, mature, and remorseful. When the time came, I went to a small room directly behind the death chamber where the attorney general worked the phones, checking with the courts to make sure that the executions were not stayed. Then we asked the prisoners for their final words. Stevens said nothing, and Burger apologized, saying, "Please forgive me." I looked to the prison electrician and ordered him to pull the switch. Last Wednesday, as the state of Georgia prepared to execute Troy Davis despite concerns about his guilt, I wrote a letter with five former death-row wardens and directors urging Georgia prison officials to commute his sentence. I feared not only the risk of Georgia killing an innocent man, but also the psychological toll it would exact on the prison workers who performed his execution. "No one has the right to ask a public servant to take on a lifelong sentence of nagging doubt, and for some of us, shame and guilt," we wrote in our letter.

The men and women who assist in executions are not psychopaths or sadists. They do their best to perform the impossible and inhumane job with which the state has charged them. Those of us who have participated in executions often suffer something very much like posttraumatic stress. Many turn to alcohol and drugs. For me, those nights that weren't sleepless were plagued by nightmares. My mother and wife worried about me. I tried not to share with them that I was struggling, but they knew I was.

I didn't grow up saying, "I want to work in prisons." I had never even been in a prison or a jail before I became warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. The commissioner at the time hired me to revamp the system, to implement case management, and work with inmates to make them safer. I had always worked in helping professions, and my main goal in corrections was always to reduce recidivism, so that inmates would leave prison better than they arrived. Over this course of time, the death penalty figured larger and larger into my work. I never supported it, but I also did not want to let it distract me from improving overall prison conditions. Death-row inmates are, after all, only a tiny fraction of the prison population.

When I was required to supervise an execution, I tried to rationalize my work by thinking, if I just save one future victim, maybe it is worth it. But I was very aware of the research showing that the death penalty wasn't a deterrent. I left my job as corrections commissioner in Georgia in 1995 partially because I had had enough: I didn't want to supervise the executions anymore. My focus changed to national crime policy and then to academia, where I could work to improve the criminal-justice system without participating in its worst parts. Today, I am the dean of the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University.

Having witnessed executions firsthand, I have no doubts: capital punishment is a very scripted and rehearsed murder. It's the most premeditated murder possible. As Troy Davis's execution approached - and then passed its set hour, as the Supreme Court considered a stay - I thought of the terrible tension we all experienced as executions dragged into the late hours of the night. No one wanted to go ahead with the execution, but then a court stay offered little relief: you knew you were going to repeat the whole process and execute him sometime in the future.

I will always live with these images - with "nagging doubt," even though I do not believe that any of the executions carried out under my watch were mistaken. I hope that, in the future, men and women will not die for their crimes, and other men and women will not have to kill them. The United States should be like every other civilized country in the Western world and abolish the death penalty. MORE HERE

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