Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Burning a sinner

Today is election day in the United States of Amurkuh, and in my district, there is a tight race between a conservative Democrat, a conservative Republican (and former professional athlete!), a conservative Libertarian (doesn't think gays should be allowed to marry, how very libertarian), and two conservative independent candidates. As someone that is fairly liberal, I may end up voting for myself.

The liberal position on the death penalty is that it should be abolished, and that is a position I've held for a long time. People like comedian David Cross, the NWOBHM band Witchfinder General, and my friend Maria, all basically share the same thought, that if you skullfuck a child and burn it alive afterward, you should be killed. I mean, that's a reasonable position.

My stance on the death penalty has actually begun to shift, but not because I think these psychopaths (the murderers, not the people mentioned above) should be removed from society. No, it's because I think if you kill someone when you're 22, keeping you in prison until you're 85 is almost more inhumane than just executing them. It's practically a form of torture, which I know the U.S. endorses. That actually creates a conflict between America's love of blood and America's love of torture.

The problem is that many innocent people are executed by our justice system. It's not so much that the guilty have to pay but that someone needs to pay. Also, they're still bad guys, or at least poor people, right? So who cares?

I don't have a solution for that, but I do have a half-formed proposal. Have a trial with a jury of old people and the functionally literate, and then allow the inmate to go through the entire spectrum of his appeals process before a the decision of whether to execute is decided. Once that is finished, only a higher court can issue a decision on whether to convert the sentence to death. I would only feel comfortable with at least a three judge appellate court making a decision, rather than a dopey jury (or some secret panel).

Is that an ideal solution? Who knows? Ideally, we should correct the social and economic problems that lead people to murder, but that's really hard and takes time, money and effort, which is lame. Perhaps we should just let death row inmates fight to the death in gladiator like competitions. It would give the networks another reality show to promote.


Gorilla Bananas said...

I would restrict it to serial killers, because they tend to be sadists, and it's very difficult to be wrongly convicted of two separate murders. I don't think socio-economic problems caused that fat arse Gacy to torture and kill boys.

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ChrisV82 said...

@GB - There's really nothing to be done about the criminally insane. The U.S. shut down a lot of our mental hospitals in the 80s, so that probably didn't help. There are a lot of crazy people out on the streets, not medicated and unsupervised.

@Sweetie - There are many people in prison that are total scumbags. I do not disagree with that. I tend to lean more towards being humane partly because I am not those people. I also know they're delusional. My office received a letter from an inmate who wanted to sue for royalties for the phrase "tossed salad" because he said he invented it and HBO recorded him saying it during a documentary during the 90s. They have nothing but time on their hands, so they're all junior lawyers and scholars.

There are many factors involved in correcting the prison problem, beginning with prenatal care to classroom quality to job opportunities to fair trials to competent counsel to whatever else. Fixing the system is like throwing an elephant across a football field.

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