Death penalty

Discussion in 'Free Thoughts' started by Seattle, Jan 26, 2024.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    There is another execution scheduled for today in Alabama. This time the method of execution is via nitrogen hypoxia.

    This is an interesting subject overall. The only developed countries with the death penalty are Japan, Singapore and the U.S. I think we should not have the death penalty for several reasons including the morality of it, the state shouldn't be in the position of taking someone's life and there are enough mistakes in the criminal justice system to make this a bad idea since it can't be undone.

    It's also interesting to look at a map of the US showing which states have no death penalty, which states have the death penalty on pause and which permit the death penalty. The more liberal states, including mine (Washington) have no death penalty, most of the rest outside of the South have it on pause and those still executing people are North Carolina down and over through Texas and up to South Dakota, with a few exceptions.

    The language used to describe this subject is informative as well. Some speak of a humane way to carry out the death penalty but in medical and legal circles this is generally an oxymoron. You can't be both humane and take a human life so it's impossible to have a humane way to do this. You can try to make it painless but more than 3% of the executions are botched in one way or another which means it has been botched in more than 200 cases.

    The new way being used in the most recent case in Alabama, nitrogen hypoxia, has never been used in an execution which is how it is usually reported in the media. However it has been used in euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide with the jurisdictions where that is permitted. It's thought to be painless, result in unconsciousness in less than 30 seconds and to result in death in just a few minutes. It's not death by suffocation. The body can't detect oxygen, carbon dioxide is still given off as long as the body is alive so it should be painless in that regard.

    In this case, I believe it is to be administered using a positive pressure full face mask, similar to what is sometimes used in scuba diving. I have used one in an Aquarium environment.

    There are other complications, legal and medical in this subject matter. Medical doctors generally don't want to participate in the process since they are all about saving life and not ending it. Drug manufacturers don't want their drugs to be used for this.

    Where sedating and putting to sleep people before the actual execution is concerned there are moral and legal issues as well involving sedating someone against their will and even if they ask for sedation is it really free will when they are involuntarily being executed by the state, and so on...

    I think the greater effort should be placed on trying to get all states to ban executions but in the meantime I'm sure more could be done to reduce the stress and potential pain. Just marching a chained up prisoner into a sterile, stainless steel room and being strapped to a gurney is pretty barbaric. You could just have them in a comfortable hotel like room, wearing comfortable clothes, watching TV, talking to loved ones and then sedating them, putting them to sleep and then administering whatever the ultimate means of death is.

    They did a survey of the most effective and least effect means of execution (least and most botched cases) and the electric chair was the "best" and lethal injection was the worst. In a sense, a firing squad is the most effective and least painful but it probably is the most stressful in theory to the person involved that thinking about it.

    It's effective and pain free because it results in sudden death, you are dead before the pain impulse reaches the brain and is processed, the bullet travels faster than sound so you are dead before you could ever hear the gun report. It's terrifying however in that you are marched out to kneel and just wait for your death.

    Since at least half of the states are effectively not executing prisoners you would think that there would be no death penalty in the near future but given the Southern culture I don't think that is going to happen.

    What is truly barbaric, IMO, was the botched attempt of this same prisoner over a year ago. He was ultimately strapped to a gurney for 4 hours. They couldn't find a suitable vein that didn't collapse and had to call it off.

    A few years ago there was an executive that lasted 45 minutes. It involved a 3 drug "cocktail" and the sedating drug didn't actually go into the bloodstream, it only went into the tissues and therefore he wasn't sedated. They then gave him the drug to paralyze him and the third to stop his heart. None of it worked well and he was essentially unable to move or speak while feeling it all and it took 45 minutes before he actually died.

    I'm hopping nitrogen hypoxia is a much better alternative if we are going to continue executing people.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2024
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    It turns out that he was conscious for 10 minutes, shook for 2 minutes and exhibited heavy breathing for 5 minutes. It doesn't say if that was when he was unconscious or not but the expectation was that he would be unconscious within 30 seconds so I guess that wasn't accurate.
     
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  5. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Before movies, television, theater, and widespread literacy... Perhaps public executions and heads mounted on pikes served an informative purpose for populations that were sometimes deficient in both imaginative content and real-life experiences (with respect to certain matters).

    But capital punishment today is conducted behind closed walls and thereby provides no cogent admonitory and dissuasive function at all, even in an obsolete context. It serves a limited audience.

    It has dwindled down in its rationale to being purely a supposed, ceremonial benefit for the family of the victims (closure, justice, retribution, etc). Along with being a baneful episode for the family of the condemned (grief, mixed feelings. shouldn't die alone and unloved even if a murderer, etc).

    A narrowly confined disintegration beam would be nice, that instantly vaporized the condemned as effectively as being at Ground Zero of a nuclear explosion. That kind of technology would be too good, though. Both undermining "suffering" arguments against CP and potentially attracting those segments of the clinically depressed, the antinatalists, and so-forth who would normally be too inhibited to voluntarily correct the problem after the fact.

    A rock and a hard place. An inferior method urges capital punishment to be abandoned at the expense in the meantime of continued mishaps slash pain, while an ideal method opens up a whole new can of worms (the suicide booths of futuristic dystopian fiction).
    _
     
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  7. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Agree, Seattle. I think it’s barbaric, too and to your point, suppose the inmate was wrongfully imprisoned/convicted? Our prison system in the US seems to mainly focus on punitive actions instead of trying to rehabilitate, because our justice system is a big “industry.” There is more money in keeping the prisons packed, than trying to rehabilitate inmates so they don’t continue committing crimes. I believe the recidivism rate is nearing 70% in the US, so clearly, our prison system is failing on all fronts.
     
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  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    You can definitely detect oxygen. At high altitudes without oxygen I am _very_ aware that I can't get enough (when I go off supplemental O2.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2024
  9. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

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    An emotive subject.

    Putting aside vengeance and removing them from society permanently. without life long incarceration costs/resource (my pros for the death penalty)

    I vote no and have done since I became an atheist probably.
    I am not more moral or anything, I just think society functions better without it.
    Civilization and a positive progression lies ahead without the death penalty, not with it.
     
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    That's true. I suppose it's more correct to say that the stronger response to suffocation is the build up of CO2 and when there is no build up of CO2 the response is less intense. But you are correct. I climbed Mt. Rainier and after 10,000 I feel like crap and way before 14,000 feet each step has me breathing like I'm running instead of taking small steps.
     
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    That's how I look at it. I understand it costs more to keep someone alive for years but this isn't a money issue, IMO. Also, the way it's done in the US, we keep the death row prisoner alive for decades anyway. The guy that was just executed killed his victim over 30 years ago.

    I think, for me, it just about having a system that you can respect more than it is about the prisoner. It's like when you treat a criminal with dignity. It's really more about my dignity or respect for myself or "my" government than it is about the prisoner.

    If we are to respect the system then the system has to be worthy of respect. We need to lock some people up but we don't need to treat them like animals even if they actually are animals in some cases. Actually we generally treat animals better than the conditions in some prisons.
     
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  12. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Even the worst violent offender has intrinsic value as a human being. I tend to have hope that given enough time, such a person could change and become a blessing to someone else, even in prison. The DP also seems arbitrary - who decides what crime is so heinous that the person shouldn’t be allowed to live anymore?

    From a purely practical viewpoint, I don’t think it deters crime, if that’s what the justice system is after. It’s interesting though that we (societal “we”) see death as the worst punishment of all, but living one’s entire life in a small, cramped jail cell, without any freedom, watching your back to ensure you’re not assaulted on a daily basis…seems worse than death.
     
  13. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    You're right, all studies show that it isn't a deterrent. Although some will argue that it at least deters them from killing anyone else. That is true. We don't want killing a victim to be taken so lightly that it's a matter of doing it, going to jail for a few years, getting out after doing your time, etc. But, it's just not the right way to handle the problem, IMO.

    Even though I think we should worry about our ever increasing public debt, I do think that we should lock up as many as need to be locked but no more than need to be locked up and then that's how many prisons we need.

    There should be no overcrowding and the punishment should be the loss of liberty and not poor prison living conditions. No one should be afraid for their lives in prison whether that's from the state or from other prisoners.

    I don't there there is a lot of rehabilitating that can be done. I'm not suggesting that there is none but I think some percentage of the population in a large country just need to be locked up. There would be no rehabilitating Ted Bundy for example, IMO.

    We live in our "sheltered" world/communities and forget what kind of really bad people are out there. It's a small percentage but they do a lot of harm.
     
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    I have no issue with the death penalty provided we have a perfect, or close to perfect, justice system. We don't. And therein lies the rub.
     
  15. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I have a problem with it in a perfect system, although a perfect system, by definition, would be an improvement.
     
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Numerous studies have suggested that the total cost of the death penalty is likely to be higher than the total cost of a life sentence.

    For starters, there are the legal costs. Trials in which the death penalty is sought tend to run for longer (about 1.5 times longer, on average) than trials in which it isn't sought, which adds to costs. For example, a New York study found an average cost of $1.4 million for each death penalty trial, compared to $602,000 for the cost of life imprisonment for 40 years.

    After conviction with the death penalty, there is very often a series of lengthy appeals against the sentence. The legal processes tend to drag on for years after the initial conviction. Obviously, that costs.

    How prisoners are kept in prison before execution varies from state to state in the US. Some states have special "death row" facilities, while in other cases death row prisoners are housed with the general prison population (typically high security). The costs of maintaining specialised death row facilities mean that the costs of incarceration for death row inmates are approximately double what a life-term prisoner costs. In states without special facilities (e.g. there is a study from South Dakota), the cost of incarceration of a death row inmate might be a little less than a life-term prisoner - approximately 70% to 80% of the cost, using a conservative estimate. That is mainly due to the total prison term being shorter (compared to a life sentence) for prisoners who are actually executed.

    When it comes to the costs of the executions themselves, one Florida study estimated that the true cost of each execution is about $3.2 million, or approximately 6 times the cost of keeping a person in prison for life.

    So, all in all, even the economic argument for the death penalty does stack up very well. In my opinion, the economic argument is not the strongest argument against the death penalty anyway. The strongest single argument, I think, is the chance of wrongful conviction and the execution of a person who is not actually guilty of the crime. Apart from that, the death penalty is no deterrent to criminals, and it sends the wrong kind of message about what kind of society we want. The death penalty is barbaric.
     
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  17. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    And now a sampling from media opera. Along with... Wikipedia entry: Execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith
    - - - - - - - - - - -

    I’m an anesthesiologist. Kenneth Smith’s execution by nitrogen gas was far from ‘textbook’
    https://www.statnews.com/2024/01/29/kenneth-smith-nitrogen-gas-execution-science-alabama/

    EXCERPTS: Executions are highly curated events. ... Instead of scientific and medical details of the execution, Alabama chose to share utterly meaningless dietary specifics. ... And that’s as much as we know. The viewing curtain was closed to witnesses before the official time of death, raising the unsettling question of how long it took for Smith to die — some say 22 minutes, though it may have been as long as 28 minutes. Assuming these statements are accurate, which seems to be the case, the state’s claim that this went exactly to plan makes one thing clear: Its intent here was torture... (MORE - missing details)
    _
     
  18. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

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    I do not believe that Wegs. I think there are people that not only offer nothing positive to society they actively drag human kind back into the dark ages.
    Do some criminals deserve to die? In my view yes.
    However, as a society, a modern civilized society, the death penalty should be something we look back on.
    On that I agree with you.
     
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  19. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

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    This surprises me. I have never read any of the studies so I will take your word for it and do a little reading to verify in the meantime.
     
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    While I agree, sometimes that value is negative. There are people who will always, if given an opportunity, rob, rape and kill. You can describe them as evil, or as someone with an unfortunate mental defect leaving them unable to tell right from wrong, or as someone who was brought up all wrong. Almost certainly most are a combination of these. Society is better off without them. Not because of their value as a human being - but because OTHER people's lives have value, and if the criminal in question keeps taking those lives, society is better off if they are permanently removed.

    (And again, the above assumes we have a nearly perfect justice system - so there are practical problems with that approach.)
     
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  21. foghorn Valued Senior Member

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    I’m racking my brains trying to think of the British MP who was against the death penalty, even if it was for Hitler. Late eighties I think?
    That's the opposite of Churchill who wanted Hitler dead without trial and by electric chair.

    " Winston Churchill would have sought Adolf Hitler's execution by electric chair, newly released papers show.
    Britain's war-time leader also believed top Nazis should be summarily executed without being tried, the papers reveal. Churchill described the Nazi leader as "the mainspring of evil", adding that he deserved the instrument used "for gangsters" - the electric chair.
    The revelations come in the first detailed records of World War II Cabinet meetings to be published."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4571448.stm
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2024
  22. candy Valued Senior Member

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    Project Innocence has proven how defective the justice system is.
    You cannot undo death but you can make some restitution for a wrongful prison sentence.
     
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