Monday, July 09, 2007


Big Time Bloggin'

The death penalty has hit one of the nation's biggest blogs, Daily Kos, with the story of Troy Davis. Stacy has blogged about this case, but now it's being talked about all over the blogosphere. With so many people having been exonerated from death row, and so many more, like Troy Davis and Paul House still sitting on death row for crimes they didn't commit, it's amazing that anyone can still feel comfortable with the use of executions as a public policy tool.

Check out the full post at Daily Kos.
Comments :
There you go again TJ, asserting that House did not commit the crime. How the hell can you be so sure? All the Supreme Court said was that the state of evidence in front of it would not justify a guilty verdict--it says nothing about whether the guy did it. Funny how sure you are of House.

With respect to Davis. I wouldn't put a ton of stock in anything by the DailyKos. After all, the leader of the KosKidz had this to say about American military vets who were murdered in Iraq--"Screw 'em".
So if there isn't enough evidence to justify a guilty verdict, then the person is found "not guilty." That's the only possible ruling a court can make. Asserting that someone who is found not guilty is not innocent is a rhetorical trick, and I think a very dangerous one. I mean, if being not guilty means you still did it, what's the point of having trials at all?

As for Daily Kos, I'm not an avid fan, but my point was that it is good news that such a widely read outlet has picked up the story. I'd say the same thing if Fox News had picked it up.

And please stop referring to me as TJ, "anonymous." Let's stick to the facts and try to keep the personal epithets to a minimum.
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There is a feature on this blog that allows you to ban posts from anonymous posters. I have trouble understanding why people post anonymous in the first place, especially here. This blog has maintained a civil discussion on a hot issue for some time--but in the past we have enacted the feature to disallow anonymous posts. I hope that we can continue to have discussions on an issue that clearly warrants it--but at the same time keeping the attacking language out of it.

So, to all the anonymous folks out there (or if it's just one of you), let's continue this discussion, but let's do it respectfully.
TJ stands for TravelingJesuit. Didn't know you were so touchy. As for House, the guy could very well have done it. For a primer on how "not guilty" doesn't necessarily mean "didn't do it" see, e.g.,

I really fail to see how my posts have been over the line.
Describing one case, that isn't even a death penalty case or in Tennessee, does not prove an overall point. Courts, because they are human institutions, will make mistakes, but, because of that very fact, they shouldn't be handing out the absolute punishment; they aren't absolutely perfect. And for every story about some guilty person getting off, there's a story about a Ruben Cantu or Paul House who is still incarcerated, or worse, has been executed, for a crime they did not commit. And one case certainly doesn't overshadow the fact that 124 men have been exonerated from death row in America when evidence of their innnocence comes to light. And there have been others who have been released, who are not included in list of exonerees, because rigorous standards are maintained to qualify. We can't just ignore the problem of innocence by asserting that people found to be "not gulity" are actually guilty. By that standard, anyone indicted for any crime is guilty, and we shouldn't even have trials.
Funny how you're willing to ignore a "guilty" verdict for purposes of determining innocence, but place a great deal of faith in "not guilty". Read up on some of the 124, some of them did it. And to they extent that they did, the system's liberality is being used to prove it is too harsh. That's pure sophistry.
Some of them did it? Which of the 124 are you referring to?

Further, of the 3350 on death row, do you think it is possible that some of them didn't do it?
ike, Timothy Hennis for starters. And there are a lot more.

Yes, some of those on death row may be innocent. The appeals/clemency process will sort it out. My guess is the number if above zero, is small.
And I suppose that people like Ruben Cantu, Carlos De Luna, Cameron Todd Willingham, and Larry Griffin, all executed for crimes that they didn't commit, are just collateral damage? Juan Melendez (who will be visiting TN next week) spent 17 years, 8 months, and 1 day on death row for a crime that he did not commit. These are real lives that are ruined (or even ended) by a highly imperfect system, and we, as a society, as citizens, as tax-payers cannot simply gloss that over.
Innocence is an issue that needs to be dealt with throughout the criminal justice system. Perhaps, if we didn't spend so many resources on bogus claims of innocence (e.g., Kevin Cooper & Mumia Abu-Jamal) or so many resources on the abuse excuse in death penalty cases, more resources would be available to deal with innocence.

Now innocence is a valid argument against the death penalty. Most of your other arguments are not. However, your side oversells the 124 people. A lot of them did it. Hennis is but one example.
I think that the argument goes the other way: if the state didn't waste so many resources on the death penalty, we might have more to guarantee the accuracy of criminal convictions more generally. And there are plenty of innocent people who are not included in that 124 number. A good example is Sonya Jacobs. However, isn't the larger issue that we shouldn't be allowing a system to mete out absolute punishment without absolute certainty? How many innocent people would it be alright to sentence to death or execute?
Traveling Jesuit, we as a people have the right to the death penalty--that's the categorical imperative. All these silly rules about mitigation etc. are what drive up the costs so much. Those are simply judge-made rules, or more accurately, responses to judge-made rules. They should be done away with.
Those "silly rules" also save some innocent people from being executed. Having innocent people on death row and releasing them after 17 years also drive up costs, and cost people money. Just because someone wasn't executed while the process was "sorted out" doesn't mean their life wasn't ruined. Obviously we can't count on clemency/appeals processes. So the other option would be to execute more quickly, which means more of a chance of making a huge mistake. Since we can't do that, we keep them on death row, costing pain and money. How you can't see it would do better to do away with a system that really is bad for everyone, is unclear.
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Great response! You are right on with your arguments--keep on coming back here and speaking the truth1
Hmmmm. I said nothing about rules governing guilt/innocence being silly, just rules about sentencing. So, how are these sentencing rules really protectors of the innocent?

We as a society have the right to mete out death sentences. I'd be more than willing to trade a more stringent standard of proof for death for getting rid of all these silly rules about mitigation.
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