06-30-2015 05:00 PM
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  1. Aquila's Avatar
    I don't think it is a moral decision to resort to capital punishment, because if it was a question of morality we wouldn't do it since it's amoral to kill. I also think punishment is one of the reasons any criminal sentence is imposed, be it capital punishment or 30 days in jail. Society imposes punishment, more commonly referred to as retribution, for no other reason then "the criminal did a bad thing and needs to pay." I see that as central to the reason why death penalty advocates support it. Retribution is not the most important reason, but it does stand side by side with with the other reasons why criminal sentences are imposed: Retribution, Deterrence, Rehabilitation, and Incapacitation.
    Our law society made a pretty stark distinction between restitution and between punitive action. That's the concept of paying one's debt to society. We often misinterpret a sentence imposed to be punitive, and in many cases due to ego or other misguided feelings by the judge and/or jury, they are, but the original intent of sentencing someone to a fine or jail time or community service, etc was to impose upon them burden sufficient to repay society for the betrayal and breakdown of it's fabric. For deterrence, many debts are graduated to be more forgiving at earlier stages and to function as a wake-up call that a person who chooses to live outside of the lawful society will have to physically be kept separate, for the protection of the society.


    Even if all the laws match the teachings of the Bible or Sharia Law and all the politicians are religions leaders. The People control the government and the People dictate what the reasons for laws. And no reason is any more or less valid than any other.
    That's what I meant for when they coincidentally move in the same direction. This isn't a blind hatred for religion thing, but a founding principle that the society must do what the People, through their representatives, do what is best for the society. For example, "thou shall not kill" is also a law in civilizations that predate Exodus and it'll be a law in societies generations from now that have never heard of Exodus. The reason we outlaw murder is not because of scripture, but because it's detrimental to a free society. That latter is the more important and more profound philosophical stance to examine in making a nation's laws, while the first may be motivation for some people, it's a passive observation to notice that sacred texts since the dawn of time agree with this very wise injunction on murder. If we followed the Bible literally, it would only mean we cannot kill Hebrew men, although "heathens", disobedient women and children would be fair game.
    jdbii likes this.
    01-30-2014 03:52 PM
  2. jdbii's Avatar
    Our law society made a pretty stark distinction between restitution and between punitive action. That's the concept of paying one's debt to society. We often misinterpret a sentence imposed to be punitive, and in many cases due to ego or other misguided feelings by the judge and/or jury, they are, but the original intent of sentencing someone to a fine or jail time or community service, etc was to impose upon them burden sufficient to repay society for the betrayal and breakdown of it's fabric. For deterrence, many debts are graduated to be more forgiving at earlier stages and to function as a wake-up call that a person who chooses to live outside of the lawful society will have to physically be kept separate, for the protection of the society.
    I'm glad you mentioned "Restitution," which I should have included in the list above. The only thing I would add, and possibly why I even made the point in the first place is I regard, and I think legal terms of art would regard, "punitive" and "punishment (retribution)" as having two different meanings. Punitive connotation puts a heavier emphasis on action being controlled by anger and emotion. And I agree with you, sentences should not be punitive. Maybe you are right after all (surprise, surprise) it's a moral decision but the factors that go into it are those I listed above and restitution.

    One reason why I brought it up in the first place, because you touched upon it earlier up-thread and I almost commented then, is that I've been in court before and watched a green defense attorney argue on behalf of his or her client that sentencing isn't about punishment. Normally when that argument is raised a judge will very quickly chastise the attorney and give a mini-lecture how in fact punishment is one of the reasons for a criminal sentence.
    01-30-2014 04:36 PM
  3. Omega Dave's Avatar
    This may sound dumb, but I'm going to say it. Why not sedate a prisoner who's on death row and then find the fastest way of killing him/her? This obviously took too long and was too gruesome, at least this way the prisoner wont feel anything, or I don't think the prisoner would.
    01-30-2014 05:04 PM
  4. NoYankees44's Avatar
    Our law society made a pretty stark distinction between restitution and between punitive action. That's the concept of paying one's debt to society. We often misinterpret a sentence imposed to be punitive, and in many cases due to ego or other misguided feelings by the judge and/or jury, they are, but the original intent of sentencing someone to a fine or jail time or community service, etc was to impose upon them burden sufficient to repay society for the betrayal and breakdown of it's fabric. For deterrence, many debts are graduated to be more forgiving at earlier stages and to function as a wake-up call that a person who chooses to live outside of the lawful society will have to physically be kept separate, for the protection of the society.




    That's what I meant for when they coincidentally move in the same direction. This isn't a blind hatred for religion thing, but a founding principle that the society must do what the People, through their representatives, do what is best for the society. For example, "thou shall not kill" is also a law in civilizations that predate Exodus and it'll be a law in societies generations from now that have never heard of Exodus. The reason we outlaw murder is not because of scripture, but because it's detrimental to a free society. That latter is the more important and more profound philosophical stance to examine in making a nation's laws, while the first may be motivation for some people, it's a passive observation to notice that sacred texts since the dawn of time agree with this very wise injunction on murder. If we followed the Bible literally, it would only mean we cannot kill Hebrew men, although "heathens", disobedient women and children would be fair game.
    But there is no higher way of thinking or natural set of morals that dictates why not allowing murder is detrimental to society. You can claim that is has proven through experience or any other method of validation you choose, but that reason is still a reason that is only meaningful to those that believe it. It is in no way more or less valid or manipulative than siting the 10 commandments. Any reasoning, as long as it is the will of the people, is equal. Even if the sole purpose for a law is base on a religious teaching and nothing else, it is not a violation of church and state. It is merely a reason the People make a law. You or I or someone else may not think it is a valid reason, but there is nothing that says the majority of the people cannot base a law on that reasoning. Actually it is quite the opposite.
    01-30-2014 05:23 PM
  5. Aquila's Avatar
    But there is no higher way of thinking or natural set of morals that dictates why not allowing murder is detrimental to society. You can claim that is has proven through experience or any other method of validation you choose, but that reason is still a reason that is only meaningful to those that believe it. It is in no way more or less valid or manipulative than siting the 10 commandments. Any reasoning, as long as it is the will of the people, is equal. Even if the sole purpose for a law is base on a religious teaching and nothing else, it is not a violation of church and state. It is merely a reason the People make a law. You or I or someone else may not think it is a valid reason, but there is nothing that says the majority of the people cannot base a law on that reasoning. Actually it is quite the opposite.
    I'm not sure if we actually are disagreeing on anything or not. The individual or group reasoning for consent is not the same thing as justification for the rule. So, if the majority of the representatives of the people agree with the precept that murder is wrong, even if many of them and/or their constituents agree to it because of "thou shalt not kill", there is no conflict. The justification for the law is that society believes murder to be wrong, the reasons they believe it to be may vary. In this case, those two positions are in agreement.
    01-30-2014 05:58 PM
  6. NoYankees44's Avatar
    I'm not sure if we actually are disagreeing on anything or not. The individual or group reasoning for consent is not the same thing as justification for the rule. So, if the majority of the representatives of the people agree with the precept that murder is wrong, even if many of them and/or their constituents agree to it because of "thou shalt not kill", there is no conflict. The justification for the law is that society believes murder to be wrong, the reasons they believe it to be may vary. In this case, those two positions are in agreement.
    Exactly, but if the majority of society cites a law for ONLY religious reasons it is no different. The will of the people is what is important, not the reasoning behind the will. Even if the reasoning is religious or anything else. Separation of church and state has nothing to do with the reasoning behind laws.
    01-30-2014 06:08 PM
  7. jdbii's Avatar
    Exactly, but if the majority of society cites a law for ONLY religious reasons it is no different. The will of the people is what is important, not the reasoning behind the will. Even if the reasoning is religious or anything else. Separation of church and state has nothing to do with the reasoning behind laws.
    I don't think that is correct. I am pretty sure that if the law was passed for only religious reasons it would get struck down. There is a difference between voting based on your religious beliefs, which is okay to do, and introducing, formulating, and codifying into law for religious reasons. The reason and purpose for the bill has to be cloaked in secular language. The committee that draws it up would have to use secular language, and then the end result statute finally written would need to be in secular language. If not, its going to be struck down. Otherwise prayer in school and any number of other christian customs would be codified into law in many states. I could be wrong, but I don't think there is one single law or statute, federal or state, anywhere in the US that states "this is for religious reasons." Possibly tax exempt status or conscious clauses or some things relating to medical care, but whatever those are they would equally apply to all religions, not favor one over the others.
    palandri likes this.
    01-31-2014 01:09 PM
  8. NoYankees44's Avatar
    I don't think that is correct. I am pretty sure that if the law was passed for only religious reasons it would get struck down. There is a difference between voting based on your religious beliefs, which is okay to do, and introducing, formulating, and codifying into law for religious reasons. The reason and purpose for the bill has to be cloaked in secular language. The committee that draws it up would have to use secular language, and then the end result statute finally written would need to be in secular language. If not, its going to be struck down. Otherwise prayer in school and any number of other christian customs would be codified into law in many states. I could be wrong, but I don't think there is one single law or statute, federal or state, anywhere in the US that states "this is for religious reasons." Possibly tax exempt status or conscious clauses or some things relating to medical care, but whatever those are they would equally apply to all religions, not favor one over the others.
    The writing of a law and the reasons behind it are two separate things. A law can be written for any reason. To black list a reason or process of reasoning when creating laws is not logical. As long as the will of the people is being reflected, it makes no difference what the reason for a law is or how it is written.

    Nothing has to be masked in "secular" language. The laws merely have to be written in a way that is easy to interpret and enforce. If whatever your definition of "secular" language means that, then sure.
    01-31-2014 01:32 PM
  9. jdbii's Avatar
    The writing of a law and the reasons behind it are two separate things. A law can be written for any reason. To black list a reason or process of reasoning when creating laws is not logical. As long as the will of the people is being reflected, it makes no difference what the reason for a law is or how it is written.

    Nothing has to be masked in "secular" language. The laws merely have to be written in a way that is easy to interpret and enforce. If whatever your definition of "secular" language means that, then sure.
    When courts determine whether or not a law is Constitutional they fist look at the law itself and what it exactly the law expressly says. If they can't determine Constitutionality based on that, they then look at the legislative history to determine what the intended purpose of the law is. So the writings and the reasons behind the law are both relevant when deciding Constitutional questions.

    When I say you have to "mask it," you don't justify, write and argue on behalf of a law because "the Bible said so," but you would just say "it's the moral thing to do." On the floor you can cast your vote and argue on behalf of the law for religious reasons and that won't get it shot down. But if you are the bill's sponsor and you say those things then it's a different story. A court will use the sponsors words in making a determination whether or not the law violates Separation of Church and State.
    palandri likes this.
    01-31-2014 02:01 PM
  10. Scott7217's Avatar
    If people do object for legal or moral reasons, they can lobby for change by communicating with their state representatives or run for office themselves and try to effect changes.
    The interesting thing about the execution discussed in the beginning of this forum thread is that Europe is actively interfering with the will of the citizens of Ohio. European manufacturers refuse to allow US prisons to acquire drugs used in lethal injections, which is why Ohio had to switch to a new drug combination. Obviously, Europeans have no representative in Ohio, nor can they run for office in that state. However, they can simply withhold the drugs so that US prisons cannot execute anyone with them. (On top of that, I don't understand why a US manufacturer can't provide the drugs instead.)

    We should also note that lethal injections must "quickly and painlessly causes death" as specified under the Ohio Revised Code:

    Chapter 2949.22 Method of execution of death sentence

    In my opinion, people who believe in an afterlife that allows for eternal punishment should have no problem with a lethal injection that causes a quick and painless death. It is their belief that condemned criminals will suffer endless torment eventually, no matter how they meet their death. The only people who should object would be people who require criminals to suffer in the moments before they die. Hanging and electrocution are no longer available as execution methods in Ohio, so if the people there want something other than lethal injection, they will need to change the law to add another method.
    01-31-2014 09:06 PM
  11. Aquila's Avatar
    The only people who should object would be people who require criminals to suffer in the moments before they die.
    Those are the people that are most worrisome.
    palandri likes this.
    01-31-2014 09:15 PM
  12. Scott7217's Avatar
    Those are the people that are most worrisome.
    Is it because they are tough on crime?
    02-01-2014 08:29 PM
  13. Aquila's Avatar
    Is it because they are tough on crime?
    Because they are likely mentally ill. I'm totally fine with being tough on crime, but wishing suffering on people is a totally different thing than wanting to protect society. Sadism is wrong.

    Were I Emperor, I would likely use the death penalty quite frequently, but it would be on a very different class of criminals that those we use it on now. Of course murderers, but rapists, those that harm children, those that steal billions of dollars, treason, etc are all categories of crime that have a very strong argument, in my opinion, of sometimes warranting a quick and permanent barrier being placed between them and society. Remember I said earlier, life imprisonment and the death penalty are the same thing to me. Either way, the sentence is that you will die in prison. The distinction is only the duration of the imprisonment, and that's a silly debate to have in my opinion. But frequency of use does not imply liking to use it, nor a propensity to use it willy-nilly. It would be applied equally and fairly and as needed, not whey I was angry at someone or outraged or shocked by their malice. The goal is to remove the malice and to protect citizens from it, not to match it.

    Sometimes violence is necessary, such as some wars and self defense. And in some cases being proactively defensive is warranted. When violence is necessarily it should be efficient, targeted and restrained, to conquer a threat to valued people/property/ideals, and not based on reveling in the pain of others.

    Like I said earlier, I understand the anger, all too well. Criminals are generally despicable predators and easy to loathe. But do we get angry and beat rabid dogs to death? Or do we shoot them cleanly? We have to be able to rise above the anger and do the right things for the right reasons, not the wrong things for the right reasons and never the right things for the wrong reasons. When we're talking about culling our own species, via by imprisonment, banishment or execution, the philosophy behind those actions and processes followed are every bit as important as the result. Safety at the cost of our humanity is probably not worth having, there is a balance and the purpose of our justice system is to use the law as the balance between our need for protection from the worst among us and the randomness of the most basic form of democratic justice: the lynch mob.
    02-01-2014 08:55 PM
  14. Scott7217's Avatar
    I'm totally fine with being tough on crime, but wishing suffering on people is a totally different thing than wanting to protect society. Sadism is wrong.
    So, how tough can people be on crime? Where is the line that divides the acceptable from the unacceptable? Remember, we are talking about the fate of criminals who have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers.

    I'm not sure where you got the idea of sadism. Do you believe people derive pleasure from criminals being executed?
    02-03-2014 04:09 PM
  15. Aquila's Avatar
    So, how tough can people be on crime? Where is the line that divides the acceptable from the unacceptable? Remember, we are talking about the fate of criminals who have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers.

    I'm not sure where you got the idea of sadism. Do you believe people derive pleasure from criminals being executed?
    Trying to think of ways to make it painful, to encourage suffering, to create one last moment of torture before they pass on to oblivion or hell or wherever they're going is sadism. Much of this thread has been focused on how to inflict pain as punishment in order to make the living feel better about the ordeal. That's sadism.

    Being "tough" on crime is, in my opinion, more about holding high standards and a relatively black and white view of crime. Either you followed the law, or you didn't, and assuming the laws are just, consequences are fairly applied based on the letter of the law. A Sheriff who shoots every thief, killer, rapists and tax evader is not tough on crime, they're a criminal. Tough on crime would be to differentiate between the actual damage caused to society by each and to apply consistent and rational actions without much regard to mitigating circumstances, etc. It doesn't matter much why you were selling drugs, you were... that sort of thing.
    palandri and jdbii like this.
    02-03-2014 05:26 PM
  16. palandri's Avatar
    Trying to think of ways to make it painful, to encourage suffering, to create one last moment of torture before they pass on to oblivion or hell or wherever they're going is sadism. Much of this thread has been focused on how to inflict pain as punishment in order to make the living feel better about the ordeal. That's sadism....
    That's spot on.
    02-03-2014 11:49 PM
  17. Scott7217's Avatar
    Remember I said earlier, life imprisonment and the death penalty are the same thing to me. Either way, the sentence is that you will die in prison.
    I've heard conflicting stories about prison life. Some people believe it's soft because you get free food, shelter, and healthcare. Other people believe it's harsh because you can be beaten, stabbed, or raped while in prison. I can imagine prison life to be so bad that some people may choose the death penalty to just end it all, but actual conditions probably vary from facility to facility.
    02-04-2014 12:55 AM
  18. palandri's Avatar
    I've heard conflicting stories about prison life. Some people believe it's soft because you get free food, shelter, and healthcare. Other people believe it's harsh because you can be beaten, stabbed, or raped while in prison. I can imagine prison life to be so bad that some people may choose the death penalty to just end it all, but actual conditions probably vary from facility to facility.
    I've done some work in a state prison. The one that I was in had 6 levels for inmates, 0 to 5. Everyone started out at level 2 and they could work their way up to level 5 (trustee) or could work their way down to level 1 (segregation) or level 0 (isolation). It was far from being soft or a cakewalk. We were under strict orders to not interact in anyway with the inmates, but many times we were close enough to hear what was being said and what was going on. There's definitely a large portion of the prison population that needs psychiatric help.

    About 7 to 10 years ago, the BBC did a documentary on the American prison system and it's pretty interesting. They talked to this one guy in a 3 strike state, that got life in prison for writing his 3rd bad check, which I thought was pretty crazy. I just did a youtube search and they have a lot of documentaries on U.S. Prisons bbc american prisons - YouTube
    02-04-2014 07:25 AM
  19. Scott7217's Avatar
    Like I said earlier, I understand the anger, all too well. Criminals are generally despicable predators and easy to loathe. But do we get angry and beat rabid dogs to death? Or do we shoot them cleanly?
    We do whatever is necessary to stop the rabid dog, so shooting it or beating it to death are both valid options. In general, we can kill animals in ways that we would never consider for humans.
    02-04-2014 07:23 PM
  20. Aquila's Avatar
    We do whatever is necessary to stop the rabid dog, so shooting it or beating it to death are both valid options. In general, we can kill animals in ways that we would never consider for humans.
    Yet we distinguish between humane treatment and abuse. The lines seem fuzzy at times because we have an industry centered around eating some animals, but generally people want animals, especially pets and those we feel are intelligent, to be treated gently and well - when the time comes that some animals must be put down, the normal human response isn't to grab the nearest baseball bat, slightly pointed heavy rock or plastic safety scissors, but rather to "put them to sleep" and try to reduce or eliminate needless suffering. That's what "humane" is. It's not about prolonging pointless and miserable lives out of selfishness, ego or guilt, but making the best decision available and doing so with reverential care. Choosing to end someone's life, even when it is necessary for the defense of society, ought to be approached similarly. Regardless of the "justification", relishing in the suffering of others is still sadism.
    jdbii and palandri like this.
    02-04-2014 07:42 PM
  21. Scott7217's Avatar
    Yet we distinguish between humane treatment and abuse.
    Would you agree that there is a difference between a pet and a human convicted of rape and murder of a pregnant woman? Are you saying that they should be treated equally?
    02-04-2014 08:12 PM
  22. Aquila's Avatar
    Would you agree that there is a difference between a pet and a human convicted of rape and murder of a pregnant woman? Are you saying that they should be treated equally?
    I'm saying that when we stop valuing life there is no point in defending it. Cruelty is not the same thing as prudence and never can be. We do not, or at least should not, being going to war because we get off on watching people from other lands bleed and scream and listening to the wails of mothers and fathers as they hold what's left the broken and burned bodies of their children that are destroyed by our munitions, nor because we delight in the fact that we're reducing their art, their culture, their economy and their families into the same dust in which we leave their homes. We go to war, or ought to, to defend people, to defend our civilization and to promote freedom in humanity. Now, we all know that's not how it always goes down, but that can be the only justifiable course for a society to mobilize around martial action.

    The justice system is identical. We're doing this to protect people, to protect society and to promote humanity. There's nothing in that end that is compatible with a means that supports punishment for retribution, needless suffering and/or morally permits us to judge any who would carry out such acts against the weakest, evil though we may perceive them to be, because they are becoming the exact cancer we seek to expel.

    A Jedi doesn't get to fall to the dark side in order to kill the Sith. While it may be effective in the short term, in every case it ends with a former Jedi just as dark as the one they sought to stop. "Forever will it dominate your destiny; consume you, it will."
    02-04-2014 08:28 PM
  23. jdbii's Avatar
    The justice system is identical. We're doing this to protect people, to protect society and to promote humanity. There's nothing in that end that is compatible with a means that supports punishment for retribution, needless suffering and/or morally permits us to judge any who would carry out such acts against the weakest, evil though we may perceive them to be, because they are becoming the exact cancer we seek to expel.
    I think punishment and retribution are synonyms as far as criminal law goes and my choice of word instead of punishment would be punitive. So I would say we shouldn't be "punitive or carry out punitive action for retribution." I do think we punish in the criminal justice system for the sake of punishing. Doing something bad to a person for no other reason than they did something bad to us is part of the equation. I don't know how there is anyway to get around that fact. If it really was all about protecting society and promoting humanity prisons would be hotels, felons would be able to vote, and non violent drug offenders wouldn't be incarcerated.
    02-04-2014 09:47 PM
  24. Aquila's Avatar
    I think punishment and retribution are synonyms as far as criminal law goes and my choice of word for punishment would be punitive. So I would say we shouldn't be "punitive or carry out punitive action for retribution." I do think we punish in the criminal justice system for the sake of punishing. Doing something bad to a person for no other reason than they did something bad to us is part of the equation. I don't know how there is anyway to get around that fact. If it really was all about protecting society and promoting humanity prisons would be hotels, felons would be able to vote, and non violent drug offenders wouldn't be incarcerated.
    Much if it is in the intent. It's easier to think of it in children and extrapolate. Do you provide discipline and consequences for children in order to express your anger at them for the having the audacity to disobey your wishes? Do you punish children because it makes you feel good? Or are you trying to teach them how to be better people, and removing them from situations that are dangerous for them and others?

    This one train of thought is what goes wrong in just about every parent-child relationship and it goes doubly wrong because we glorify the punishment rather than the development. It's no wonder that as adults the reinforced detrimental aspects of a mismanaged and imbalanced moral compass has created a culture that does generally tries to "do right" for fear of being caught doing wrong. As a teacher and a father, I want my children and my students to do the right thing because they believe it to be the right thing... not because they're afraid of what I, or the law, or whatever, will do if they fail to do what I, or the law, or whatever, deem to be the right thing without any thought of their own as to whether or not the right thing actually is right, according to their internal philosophies and their conscience.

    You may very well be correct about the prevailing attitudes in current criminal law. It doesn't mean that those attitudes are effective at developing a healthier society, all we really know is that the current attitudes are effective at generating revenue for the prison system and for some attorneys.
    jdbii and A895 like this.
    02-04-2014 09:59 PM
  25. jdbii's Avatar
    It doesn't mean that those attitudes are effective at developing a healthier society,
    +1

    all we really know is that the current attitudes are effective at generating revenue for the prison system and for some attorneys.
    +100
    02-04-2014 10:06 PM
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