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Ruling on Death Penalty Reversed

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    A federal appeals court panel Tuesday reversed a lower court ruling that found the federal death penalty unconstitutional because it amounted to the "state-sponsored murder" of innocent people.

    A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its unanimous ruling that precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits it from upholding the ruling.

    The lower court ruling was issued earlier this year by Judge Jed S. Rakoff in a case involving two men charged in a drug-murder conspiracy.

    Rakoff said in July that the federal death penalty law "denies due process and, indeed, is tantamount to foreseeable, state-sponsored murder of innocent human beings."

    More here.

    Without going in to the pro/con death penalty thread, I will say that until there's one proof (DNA or otherwise) that someone innocent DID die, the lower court has no case, imho.

    Having said that, I believe that somewhere down the historical line, we did kill off a few innocents.
  2. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    What I don't understand is why this punishment is deemed wrong simply for the fact that it has been applied to innocent people. Don't get me wrong...innocent people should not even be punished, let alone put to death! However, why does this argument seem to apply only to the death penalty? What about all the innocent people who were convicted of rape or theft and are now serving jail sentences? Why not argue that since some innocent people have been forced to serve jail time, using prison as a punishment for these people is unjustified?

    I can understand most of the reasons that many people are against using the death penalty, but I just don't follow the logic of this particular line of reasoning. Why not argue that nobody should be punished for anything simply because too many innocent people will get punished?
  3. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    I am for the death penalty but I understand this to a degree. If a person receives a life sentence and we determine 30 years later he was innocent we can let him go. But usually 30 years is too late to release somebody we have executed.
  4. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    I agree with Shiny on this. I too am for the death penalty, but I concede that some innocent people have been wrongly put to death.

    I don't think the solution is making the death penalty illegal - I think we need to beef up training for prosecuters and anyone who handles evidence - I also think we should put sentencing in the hands of a jury as well as a judge, not just a judge alone.
  5. HaYwIrE

    HaYwIrE Banned

    Two words...

    Collateral damage.

    That may sound cold hearted, but it's the simple truth. Rather than trying to get rid of a perfectly good and valid punishment to a crime that fits it, we need to start looking into how we can have little or no "collateral damage".

    First, eliminate politics from the criminal justice system.
  6. jamming

    jamming Banned

    If perfect justice is required as a condition to sentence someone for a crime then we ought to just eliminate the whole prison system.
  7. Aria

    Aria All shall love me&despair

    I agree with Misu, I'm also pro-death penalty and while I regret that innocent people have been put to death, I think that improving the system will benefit us more than abolishing it would.
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Passed Away Aug. 19, 2006

    It ain't that easy.

    Sentencing already is in the hands of the jury in many if not all jurisdictions. Juries can be wrong, too, though. They are dependent on the evidence presented.

    In many, if not most, of the cases where sentenced prisoners have been found to be innocent there has been misconduct on the part of police or prosecutors. Suppressing evidence and the like. Training would not deal with that problem. In many other cases eyewitnesses have been found to have wrongly identified someone.

    Got any other ideas? :)
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Passed Away Aug. 19, 2006

  10. mikeky

    mikeky Member

    Severe penalties as a result of this misconduct? Higher pay for public defenders, many (most?) of which are characterized as poor in cases which are overturned?
  11. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    If it has been found that someone involved in a case either tampered or suppressed evidence in any way, automatic 10 year jail sentence. Seriously. People are like any other animal - if they know an action will lead to a severe punishment (pain usually works best, but it's unethical), most will not do the action.

    And how do you propose we eliminate politics from the justice system, Haywire? Remove people from the justice system? I don't see a realistic method of removing politics from anything, since everything is politics, from government, to businesses, even schools and families. It's all politics because it's all about people.
  12. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    That is exactly the point I wanted to make. The logic being used to discredit the use of capital punishment could apply to ANY form of punishment! Sure, it is horrible that innocent people have been put to death. However, isn't it equally horrible that people have rotted in jail for their entires lives even though they were innocent of the crimes that placed them there?

    Keep in mind that nobody is arguing for intentionally putting to death innocent people. I guess it all comes down to just how "sure" we have to be before we punish someone. And for the record, I would rather be dead than serve a lifetime in prison. While I don't believe that I have an actual "soul," I just know that if I had one, it would surely die if I went to prison.
  13. ditch

    ditch Downunder Member

    Perfect justice is an ideal that is strived for but not always if ever, it could be argued, achieved. I don't believe that the achievment or failure to achieve the ideal punishment, in this thread, is the reason for arguing against the use of the death penalty. I think it is simply that if one is wrongly convicted it is preferrable that when the "error" is discovered, that the person in question is alive rather than having been killed by the state. The argument against the death penalty in this particular instance is not an argument that is being put forward aginst the use of any form of punishment. I am not aware of any arguments against the use of punishment per se although Martin would be more the one to bring things to light here than me.

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