Lets face it - the US judicial system isn't perfect. Second of all, new evidence can be found any time. By giving the system the power to terminate people's lives, that person is gone. *Poof* It doesn't matter if in another month new evidence is found to prove their innocence - there is no one to free anymore. Every year you hear of people being freed because of new evidence. What if they had been killed because of the crime they had supposedly commited? What if it happens to you? If you happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and are arrested for a crime, do you want to be sentenced to death? At least a life term gives you the chance of getting that evidence to set you free.

While I am not arguing one way or the other on the overall topic, I don't think that the third point mentioned above is a valid argument as-is.

By that, I mean that there is no data presented to back it up. Capital punishment is not legal in all states, but this isn't stated. Perhaps there is a higher population of white people in many of the states that allow capital punishment. This would correlate with the statement that it is imposed more on those whose victims are white.

Also there is no data about the ratios of white/people of color of who is sent to trial in these states. Perhaps there are more colored or poor/uneducated people who get caught and convicted for crimes that are punishable by death in those states that allow it.

Then again, maybe all data would back this statement up. But I don't know.

I'll repeat that I am not arguing one way or another about the topic of capital punishment in general. I'm simply pointing out fuzzy arguments that are biased one way or another. Be careful of what you read.

mcSey: Thanks for the data. That's exactly what I am talking about.
Facts from Virginia on racial bias and the death penalty. These come from a study on Virginia death penalty cases between 1978 and 1997. These are from a different section of the ACLU homepage so remember your source.

According to the FBI's Supplemental Homicide Reports for those years, 41 percent of victims of apparently capital crimes in Virginia were black. Yet of the 145 crimes for which a death sentence was imposed during the same period, only 19 percent involved black victims.

§ In robbery-murder incidents involving both white or black offenders in Virginia, FBI statistics show, the probability that the offender will be sentenced to death is about 2.5 percent if the victim is black. If the victim is white, the probability is about 8.3 percent--over three times greater. A black offender who robs and murders a white person in Virginia is four times more likely to be sentenced to death than a black offender who robs and murders a black person.

§ In rape-murder incidents involving whites or blacks, the probability that the offender will be sentenced to death in Virginia is about 19 percent if the victim is black. If the victim is white, the probability is 39 percent--over two times greater. Black offenders who rape and murder white victims in Virginia are over four times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who rape and murder black victims--70 percent versus 15 percent.


preach it brother u. Great point on the Constitution and the death penalty caused yet another flip-flop in my own ever-changing internal capital punishment monologue.

mumia did it.

The one reason that is complete BS enough for me to add a writeup is:
Capital Punishment is cruel and unusual punishment. If killing someone isn't cruel, then I don't know what is.
Capital punishment is very clearly NOT considered cruel and unusual punishment. The constitution, the same one which forbids cruel and unusual punishment, makes specific mention of capital punishment.

5th Amendment
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous, crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury
Webster 1913 defines capital as: "Having reference to, or involving, the forfeiture of the head or life; punishable with death; capital punishment"

So just three amendments before that denying cruel and unusual punishment, the constitution specifically allows capital punishment upon the indictment of a grand jury. Which does not mean that that amendment can't be amended, it just goes to show that cruel and unusual did not in any way refer to capital punishment. Otherwise the 8th amendment would have stricken the mentioning of capital punishment from the 5th amendment.

ALSO, on a more general note, I must agree there are problems with capital punishment right now. Statistics show race as a large factor in the death penalty. In researching Mumia Abu-Jamal I learned a lot about how fucked up our capital punishment is. It's amazing how many death row inmates have been released prior to execution only because of DNA evidence available after their trial. In cases like Mumia Abu-Jamal in which there is anything BUT clear evidence of his guilt, a highly questionable judge, and a ridiculous court-provided attorney, the death penalty should not even be considered. So I'd consider the problem to be not the death penalty itself, but the horrid legal system which dishes it out unjustly.

Mumia may have done it, but the point is the trial was far from fair - if he did it, a fair re-trial would still prove it, and everyone would be happy...
Capital punishment should be reserved for only the most clear cut cases, not just beyond a reasonable doubt but beyond all doubt.

Note: The definition of capital reads "punishable with death", not "a crime involving death". The term capital has no direct indication of murder; treason is a good example of a capital offense lacking death.
A few points for getzberg, courtesy of Amnesty International's website.
  1. Execution occurs in countries that are both industrialized or otherwise. We seem to be lagging behind 'civilized' countries such as Haiti, Cambodia, Columbia, Mozambique, Turkmenistan, and the Ukraine, which all have laws against execution.

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru only have the death penalty in effect for exceptional crimes, and crimes commited under military law.

    And Turkey, Albania, and the Central African Republic all have the death penalty, but have not actually executed anyone in the past 10 years.

    None of the above, are places I'd care to live. Yet they manage to get by without the need for government slaughter. Unlike, say, the Russian Federation, China, Japan, Myanmar, Iraq, and Somalia.

    And in the really elite circle are the six countries that have executed inmates under the age of 18 since 1990. Drum roll please....
    Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and--you guessed it--the good 'ol U S of A.

  2. It has been empirically proven that our justice system is incapable of reliably ascertaining guilt before execution. Earlier this year, the governor of Illinois imposed a moratorium on executions when it was discovered that 10 inmates on death row were not guilty by reason of DNA Evidence.
  3. As any mechanic can tell you, if the system is broken, don't use it until it's fixed.
  4. And I don't really need to tell you this, but getzberg's argument against the lack of deterrence and waste of resources is pure horseshit, especially when he argues that paperwork should be reduced, a few paragraphs after his argument that the system needs to be more certain of guilt. I'll throw out a statistic anyway, since it's close at hand: When Canada abolished the death penalty in 1975, the homocide rate was 3.09 per 100,000 people. 5 years later, it was 2.41. In 1993, the number was 2.09, a 27% decrease since abolishment.
I notice you've all assumed the UK no longers enforces the death penalty. As a matter of fact, it does for 2 crimes.

  1. High Treason
  2. Piracy on the High Seas

Please, don't call poor America barbaric for this reason when there are so many better ones.

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