Monday, December 12, 2005

The Death Penalty

The situation with 'Tookie' Williams in California has me thinking about the death penalty in a general way. I don't really know enough about Mr. Williams situation and the circumstances of the crime to really feel like I can address those specific circumstances.

The following is just an off-the-cuff discussion of things on my mind about it.

1. I am not sure that the death penalty as applied in the US doesn't seem to be, on the surface, fairly applied.
2. I am not against the state sactioned 'revenge' against a person who can be 'firmly' established as having commited the most extreme crimes. ( I am not sure how to establish something firmly or what the standard would/should be.)
3. I am not sure that not executing a criminal who, using what little I know about Mr. Williams case, has done good works after he has spent time in jail is necessarily a 'mitigating' circumstance in the decision to grant clemency.
4. I do believe that there are people who should be put to death. (Gacy, Bundy come to mind.) I have some question about a person who is not a mass murderer.
5. While not strictly related the death penalty I am not sure how one can rehabilitate people who have pathelogical psychosis? (The prime example is the sex offenders and more specifically those whose sexual offenses involve children.)
6. I would like to think that society, over time, mitigates the type of problems that produce those with the psychosis that can drive them to commit the types of crimes that I am discussing. Dispite my hope, I have no illusions that the hope is the case. I actually think that large social systems tend to make those with various psychoses much more likely to be able to function, and function with out detection for a period of time.
7. I do not believe the death penatly serves as a deterent to others from committing a crime.
8. I believe that many murders are commit with no planning at the time they are committed.
9. I have a problem with people with a mental illness or mental defect, if they are legitimate, being put to death. (I really dislike the idea of the execution of, for instance, the mentally retarded.)
10. I have a problem, and again this is not really directly related to the death penalty, with the current of people being found 'Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.' I would much rather see all states adopt the Guilty, but insane option. They would first go to a psychiatric facility, then (if deamed 'cured') they would finish a normal sentence out at a prison facility. (This would accomplish 2 things, 1 it would get them off the streets and into a proper medical care, and 2, it would still punish them for the period they have 'recovered.)

I am really out of things to right. Please let me know what you thing, anyone who makes comments helps me figure things out.

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