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Tryggvi
Friday, June 23rd, 2006, 05:23 AM
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Doctors See Way to Cut Suffering in Executions

By DENISE GRADY
Published: June 23, 2006

A flood of lawsuits challenging lethal injection as cruel and unusual has stalled executions in some states and may prompt others to abandon them. And a Supreme Court ruling last week made it easier for death-row prisoners to file such suits.

But medical experts say the current method of lethal injection could easily be changed to make suffering less likely. Even the doctor who devised the technique 30 years ago says that if he had it to do over again, he would recommend a different method.

[...]

And Dr. Jay Chapman, a forensic pathologist who created the nation's first lethal injection protocol, in Oklahoma in 1977, said that were he to do it once more, he would not recommend the three-drug concoction now in widespread use.

Instead, Dr. Chapman said, an overdose of one drug, a barbiturate — the method veterinarians use to end the lives of sick animals — would painlessly cause prisoners to lose consciousness, stop breathing and die. "Hindsight is always 20/20," he said.

[...]

Dr. Chapman's original approach, still the policy in the federal prison system and in most of the 37 death-penalty states that use lethal injection, calls for an overdose of a barbiturate, sodium thiopental, which causes unconsciousness and in sufficient doses can also halt breathing. The sodium thiopental is followed by two other drugs: pancuronium bromide, or Pavulon, which causes paralysis and halts breathing as well, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart within seconds.

But opponents of lethal injection say that in some cases, the second and third drugs may cause severe suffering.

[Source (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/23/us/23inject.html?ex=1308715200&en=e359b6a238edd0b9&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss)]

Scholar
Saturday, June 24th, 2006, 12:41 AM
And God Bless America :thumbup

Dr. Solar Wolff
Saturday, June 24th, 2006, 05:40 AM
Why not give the prisoner a choice like they do for their last meal? And we could give them something which they are familiar with such as a choice to overdose on cocaine, heroin or meth. We could call it the "everyone leaves happy plan".

Tryggvi
Saturday, June 24th, 2006, 06:37 AM
Why not give the prisoner a choice like they do for their last meal? And we could give them something which they are familiar with such as a choice to overdose on cocaine, heroin or meth. We could call it the "everyone leaves happy plan".
Priceless. :D

VilhelMina
Sunday, July 23rd, 2006, 09:43 PM
Pffft.........America's death penalty system is retarded. Death row inmates are more likely to die of old age than execution.

Whatever happened to the Iron Maiden, thumbscrews, the rack....???

"inquisition style"

Injections are cruel and unusual............whatever....:|

Janus
Sunday, July 23rd, 2006, 09:58 PM
There's a simple way to cut suffering in executions. Abolish them. As simply as that.

Dr. Solar Wolff
Monday, July 24th, 2006, 05:57 AM
There's a simple way to cut suffering in executions. Abolish them. As simply as that.

Illuminatus, believe me, I understand you. In fact, I understand you much better than you know. Once I told a German guy whom I had known long enough to talk to honestly about anything. He had been living in the USA for about 15 years and knew Americans very well. We started talking about first impressions, stereotypes, and so on. He asked how I thought he was when he first came to America. I told him: When you got off the airplane you thought how racist Americans were. You thought that men should be judged as men, not by the color of their skin since all men were alike. How could Americans treat blacks so badly and say and do to them what they do? After I said Germans thought Americans racists he laughed and said "that's a switch isn't it" and I laughed too because that was true also (concering Jews, 3rd Reich and so on). I went on telling him how much he hated our death penalty when he first got here and how barbaric he must have thought it was. He laughed because this is exactly what he thought at the time.

Well, after living in the USA for 15 years, he thought of blacks what I think of blacks. He thought of the death penality as absolutely necessary here and thought, as I do, that it isn't used enough.

My point is that you have to walk a few miles in someone else's shoes to understand how it is, sometimes.

Janus
Monday, July 24th, 2006, 02:31 PM
I do not consider your answer as valid (atleast not for me) since it is not a question of someone deserving death or not but it is an ethical question.Europe has also extremely cruel criminals and killers (eventhough not that many of them).Of course you may have the opinion that it is a good thing but in my opinion in has no positive effect at all.First of all some pragmatic reasons. I see no case at all where death penalty would be better than the good old working camps.It also brings no determent at all since most persons who commit a crime which could be punished by death penalty think they aren't catched anyways.Also a point against it is that there is always the chance that innocents are executed.

VilhelMina
Monday, July 24th, 2006, 05:57 PM
Also a point against it is that there is always the chance that innocents are executed.

Of all the world's social and governmental institutions, that do put innocents at risk, I am aware of only one, the US death penalty, that has no proof of an innocent killed since 1900. Can you name another?

Dr. Solar Wolff
Tuesday, July 25th, 2006, 07:42 AM
I do not consider your answer as valid (atleast not for me) since it is not a question of someone deserving death or not but it is an ethical question.Europe has also extremely cruel criminals and killers (eventhough not that many of them).Of course you may have the opinion that it is a good thing but in my opinion in has no positive effect at all.First of all some pragmatic reasons. I see no case at all where death penalty would be better than the good old working camps.It also brings no determent at all since most persons who commit a crime which could be punished by death penalty think they aren't catched anyways.Also a point against it is that there is always the chance that innocents are executed.

No, Europe has no large Negro populations which essentially live by crime. You Europeans have no concept of how to deal with the Negro mind (I am sorry to put it so bluntly). Negroes are motivated by two things: Sex and Fear (again, being blunt).

If a criminal suffers the death penality, there are no appeals. There is no expense of housing and feeding the criminal. To use an old Nazi comparison method, how many hospitals could be built if we had no prisons to build?

Innocent people are a problem. Now that we have DNA, some of these few are being set free. But now that we have DNA, thousands of Negroes are being held accountable for their misdeeds--and more importantly, they know they will get caught raping or murdering if they leave DNA behind.

I really hate Sociology, but we have a whole new population of Mexicans in the USA who think it is a right of passage to go to prison. You are nothing in the Mexican hip-hop world unless you have gone to prison. They actually ask each other this question. The reason most Mexicans go to prison is the drive-by shooting or robing a liquor store. Both often result in murder. Do you think a Mexican who gets away with the random murder of a drive-by is not going to get into serious crime in the future?

Illuminatus, I really don't know what country you live in or perhaps I could make this argument more specific for you. Somehow, I know you don't live in the USA inspite of your ability in English.

VilhelMina
Tuesday, July 25th, 2006, 07:58 PM
I always hear the "ethical" word when this topic comes up. I wonder, do death penalty opponents think of the victim as well?

In my opinion, many anti dp advocates put aside that most important factor in these cases.

If most of them would but read case histories, they would no doubt be shaken. We must think of the lives that were taken, and the lives of others that will be shattered forever. Victims have families, friends, co-workers...the combined loss is incalculabe.

As for work camps/prisons, I cannot understand why it is acceptable to allow murderers the right to sit on their asses for 20 years, read, write, eat, and basically live on the taxpayers dime. Even if they are "working" taxpayers are still supporting them.

Why must we be held financially responsible for their heinous acts?

Overall, the travesty of justice in this world is that convicted killers are allowed to remain alive. The society that sentences killers to nothing worse than prison, no matter how gruesome the killing, is a society that really doesn't think murder is wrong.

Reform is the only way. I say eliminate parole eligibility for virtually all repeat violent offenders.

Toughen penalties for perpetrators of domestic violence.

Overturn court created criminal-friendly loopholes to make it easier to prosecute violent criminals.

Allow juries to impose a sentence of life without parole for killers. The loopholes are what puts the killers back out on the streets. I say kill them, it is that simple.

A bullet costs less then housing these worthless deviants.

You see, I value life, and because I do, I feel that anyone who takes another life, should know they have forsaken their own.

But, for those who live outside of the US, and think Americans are so awful because they have the death penalty. (although it is not implemented enough) I have an idea....

Let's get together all of the baby/child/human killers and ship them overseas. There must be a government somewhere who are willing to take them....seeing as how Americans hate life so much...

Patrioten
Thursday, July 27th, 2006, 02:33 PM
Death by hanging is an effective and cheap method of executing capital punishments and i would like to see it in effect here in Sweden for most serious crimes. And the sentence should be executed asap after the criminal has been convicted.

Tryggvi
Thursday, July 27th, 2006, 04:38 PM
Death by hanging is an effective and cheap method of executing capital punishments and i would like to see it in effect here in Sweden for most serious crimes. And the sentence should be executed asap after the criminal has been convicted.I'm actually supporting the death penalty on primarily two grounds. Firstly, on grounds of retaliation. The concept of retaliation is a long an interesting philosophical topic, but let's leave it aside for the moment. The second reason why I support it is that in cases where it appears necessary to remove a person forever from the community on the grounds of her particular dangerousness (but exile is no option because of other reasons), we currently only appear to have two sensible options: life imprisonment and the death penalty.

Among those, I consider the death penalty more humane and there are other good arguments why it is preferrable to life imprisonment in such cases. I consequently claim pretty much the opposite of the anti-death penalty movement that says that the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment. Bottom line is that it can be but it needn't be. At least not more cruel than life imprisonment. And probably far less.

A primary question would be if we desire the death penalty to be a cruel punishment at all, and I get the impression that most advocates of the death penalty desire exactly this. The felon should suffer as much as possible.

I have to disagree. It's potentially already a very dangerous thing to put the right to decide over life and death into the hands of the state, thus the application of it has to be limited and it has to be controlled and only be applied in cases where there is no other alternative to achieve the desired ends of justice, and that only after extended review. There is really no rational reason whatsoever why this right should be extended to torture (causing severe physical pain or anquish) in order to punish people that committed crimes in the past. Such conduct would on the contrary undermine the authority of the state, brutalize crimes and society and would be subject to much abuse.

A death penalty understood this way will not be "cheap." It will probably be cheaper than factual life imprisonment in a maximum security penitentiary, however. There is a good reason why in the United States convicted criminals are typically on death row for a decade or two.

Albeit there is also no evidence to the contrary, there is, because of this extraordinary review of death sentence cases, no convincing proof that the United States executed an innocent person since the 1900s. This is an absolutely remarkable score. It's important to understand this. And the chance gets less and less likely that it will happen in future (at least as long as the United States decides to respect the basic premises of liberty and justice) because the authorities can rely on ever more sophisticated methods to establish a person's guilt.

However, there were alone since the 1970s dozens of persons that were exonerated from death row because they were, eventually, found actually innocent. Some of them by DNA evidence that was not available at the time of the trial. And many more were exonerated as legally innocent because they were framed, because the state prosecution had suppressed important evidence or because they didn't receive a fair trial. That might only be a promille fraction of all people executed, but every single case is important, because everybody has only one life, namely his own. Apart from times of severe crisis (such as the final year of WW2), we simply cannot execute people on a "more likely than not" basis.

Having explained why the death penalty can neither be quick, nor cheap, nor cruel, I consequently oppose death by hanging categorically as an unnecessarily cruel and inhumane punishment that undermines everything our civilization stands for and everything an enlightened Germanic state should represent.

There are many good reports about death by hanging and very interesting accounts come from Chris Barnard (the South African hangman) and Prof. Chris Barnard (the South African heart specialist):
And then the lever to be pulled and then depending how efficient the measuring had been, it would take five, ten, twelve, seventeen minutes before the person finally died. The longest recorded in South Africa was seventeen minutes of someone who the hangman described as a very strong man, who just wouldn't give up on life and so his body hung twitching for seventeen minutes, before the Doctor who was on duty, would pronounce him dead.

[Source (http://www.doj.gov.za/trc/special/prison/mcbride.htm)]

Chris Barnard, the heart surgeon, this is what he says "put a rope around a man's neck, tie the knot next to his ear, fastened his wrists behind his back and drop him a distance of just less than two metres. If you haven't bodged it by miscalculating the length of the drop or the strength of the rope, you will achieve several things at once. The man's spinal cord will rupture at the point where it enters the scull. Electrochemical discharges will send his limbs falling in a grotesque dance, eyes and tongue will start from the facial (indistinct) under the assault of the rope and his bowel and bladder may simultaneously void themselves to soil the legs and drip onto the floor, unless of course you are an efficient hangman who has thoughtfully fitted your subject with a nappy or rubber pants. Quick and clean, I believe that it is a slow, dirty, horrible, brutal, uncivilised and unspeakably barbaric to take a man's life in this manner and for the reason that he had caused the death of another."

[Source (http://www.doj.gov.za/trc/special/prison/khumalo.htm)]I suppose our modern society has sufficient means to execute a felon without elements of torture.

Patrioten
Friday, July 28th, 2006, 10:42 AM
I can't say that i am put off by these accounts. Articifical death is with few exceptions going to be painful for the reciever. I don't see it as a form of torture however, torture to me is to inflict pain on a person with the intention of prolonging the pain as much as possible and keeping the victim at least barely alive. But if hanging takes a while to execute, then that's just how it is. It might be not so nice for the hangman however to have to dispose of the mess created by the hanged. Hm.

What method would you like to see in use?

symmakhos
Friday, July 28th, 2006, 11:45 AM
Of all the world's social and governmental institutions, that do put innocents at risk, I am aware of only one, the US death penalty, that has no proof of an innocent killed since 1900. Can you name another?

Do you mean to imply that the guilt of the executed is often tried post factum in the USA? Or that there is proof of many innocents executed in other countries? In Japan?

If there is no proof that innocents have been executed in the US, the probability is overwhelming:

http://www.fdp.dk/uk/art/art-11.htm

Tryggvi
Friday, July 28th, 2006, 03:15 PM
I can't say that i am put off by these accounts. Articifical death is with few exceptions going to be painful for the reciever. I don't see it as a form of torture however, torture to me is to inflict pain on a person with the intention of prolonging the pain as much as possible and keeping the victim at least barely alive. But if hanging takes a while to execute, then that's just how it is. It might be not so nice for the hangman however to have to dispose of the mess created by the hanged. Hm.

What method would you like to see in use?I would assume that a lethal injection with barbiturates, as mentioned in this thread, is an efficient and painless method with predictable results.

I've also heard that both rapid massive nervous system tissue destruction (e. g. by a neckshot or a grenade) and gradual loss of consciousness by bleeddeath are painless but we probably would need a medical committee to confirm this. It also would have to be investigated if such methods are practical and if they can always be performed with the desired accuracy.

In the case of qualified treason (if an execution appears to be unavoidable) I would suggest a firing squad. In political cases, other considerations would have to step behind mutual honor and respect, I assume.

Patrioten
Friday, July 28th, 2006, 04:07 PM
I would assume that a lethal injection with barbiturates, as mentioned in this thread, is an efficient and painless method with predictable results.

I've also heard that both rapid massive nervous system tissue destruction (e. g. by a neckshot or a grenade) and gradual loss of consciousness by bleeddeath are painless but we probably would need a medical committee to confirm this. It also would have to be investigated if such methods are practical and if they can always be performed with the desired accuracy.

In the case of qualified treason (if an execution appears to be unavoidable) I would suggest a firing squad. In political cases, other considerations would have to step behind mutual honor and respect, I assume.Hm, i wonder what lethal injections costs the state. I'll have to look it up. Firing squad is also something i have considered. A couple of high caliber bullets to the heart of a person must mean a quick death right? It stops the blood flow and in a matter of seconds the brain shuts down, am i correct? I could see it be the standard death penalty for serious crimes. It's also reasonably cheap.

Tryggvi
Friday, July 28th, 2006, 05:26 PM
Hm, i wonder what lethal injections costs the state. I don't think any execution method is a big cost factor. A veterinarian that puts an animal to sleep uses barbiturates for it and the service will cost you about €20,- for a dog. An amount of barbiturates sufficient to kill a human being will not be much more expensive than a bullet, I assume.

Estimated costs for an execution in the U.S. range between $2 million to $3.5 million, depending on the state, but most additional costs incur not because of the factual execution but due to the extraordinary constitutional protection and proceedings that apply to death penalty cases.
Death penalty cases are much more expensive than other criminal cases and cost more than imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole. In California, capital trials are six times more costly than other murder trials.(1) A study in Kansas indicated that a capital trial costs $116,700 more than an ordinary murder trial.(2) Complex pre-trial motions, lengthy jury selections, and expenses for expert witnesses are all likely to add to the costs in death penalty cases. The irreversibility of the death sentence requires courts to follow heightened due process in the preparation and course of the trial. The separate sentencing phase of the trial can take even longer than the guilt or innocence phase of the trial. And defendants are much more likely to insist on a trial when they are facing a possible death sentence. After conviction, there are constitutionally mandated appeals which involve both prosecution and defense costs.

Most of these costs occur in every case for which capital punishment is sought, regardless of the outcome. Thus, the true cost of the death penalty includes all the added expenses of the "unsuccessful" trials in which the death penalty is sought but not achieved. Moreover, if a defendant is convicted but not given the death sentence, the state will still incur the costs of life imprisonment, in addition to the increased trial expenses.

For the states which employ the death penalty, this luxury comes at a high price. In Texas, a death penalty case costs taxpayers an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.(3) In Florida, each execution is costing the state $3.2 million.(4) In financially strapped California, one report estimated that the state could save $90 million each year by abolishing capital punishment.(5) The New York Department of Correctional Services estimated that implementing the death penalty would cost the state about $118 million annually.(6)

[Source (http://www.fnsa.org/v1n1/dieter1.html)]

I'll have to look it up. Firing squad is also something i have considered. A couple of high caliber bullets to the heart of a person must mean a quick death right? It stops the blood flow and in a matter of seconds the brain shuts down, am i correct? I could see it be the standard death penalty for serious crimes. It's also reasonably cheap. I don't know if you are correct. I'm not an expert on execution methods or medical ballistics. But it seems to be in general a very complex field and unless there is a rapid massive nervous system tissue destruction involved, death needn't be necessarily quick nor painless. Many factors such as cell shock, tissue and organ damage and blood loss have to be considered, besides the projectile and its velocity, and research appears to be very controversial. In addition, there is the problem of accuracy.

VilhelMina
Friday, July 28th, 2006, 07:18 PM
Do you mean to imply that the guilt of the executed is often tried post factum in the USA? Or that there is proof of many innocents executed in other countries? In Japan?

If there is no proof that innocents have been executed in the US, the probability is overwhelming:

http://www.fdp.dk/uk/art/art-11.htm

I was speaking of other countries. The site you linked was blatent anti death penalty. Which is fine, but unfortunately, the anti side lies with such conviction, that is is hard not to believe them.

Please read the following piece written by Dudly Sharp on the Innocence issue.



(http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DPIC.htm)
INNOCENCE ISSUES -- THE DEATH PENALTY
by Dudley Sharp

A thorough review finds that death penalty opponents have lied, extensively, regarding the numbers of innocents sentenced to death, that such risk is extraordinarily low and that the cessation of executions will put many more innocents at risk.

I. Innocents Released from Death Row: A Critical Review of the Claims

Death penalty opponents claim that "Since 1973, 102 (now 114) people in 25 states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence," (1)

That is a blatantly false claim.

The foundation for these claims begins in 1993, when a study, released by US Rep. Don Edwards, purported to find that 48 innocents had been released from death row since 1973 (2). Rep. Edwards concluded that "Under the law, there is no distinction between definitively innocent and those found innocent after a trial."

Rep. Edwards was wrong.

The law recognizes the specific distinction between those legally innocent and those actually innocent, just as common sense dictates. Yes, there is a difference between the truly "I had no connection to the murder" cases and "I did it but I got off because of legal error" cases.

Rep. Edwards and other death penalty opponents combine these two conflicting groups to increase their "innocents" number. This is a continuation of a pattern of deception by death penalty opponents, that had been obvious for years.

In addition, Rep. Edwards selected an anti death penalty group, The Death Penalty Information Center (the DPIC), to conduct the study, thereby negating objective confidence in the results.

The source for the updated 102 innocent number is also the DPIC (3). Richard Dieter, head of the DPIC, has confirmed, again, what their "innocent" means:

". . . according to death penalty opponents, who say they make no distinction between legal and factual innocence because there is no difference between the two under the law and because there is no objective way to make such a determination. 'They're innocent in the eyes of the law,' Dieter says. 'That's the only objective standard we have.' " (4)

What nonsense.

As this public policy debate is only about the actually innocent, we know why the DPIC fails to make that obvious distinction -- they wish to, deceptively, expand their "innocents" claims.

Furthermore, for many years, the United States' courts have repeatedly enforced the obvious, common sense, important distinction between the actually innocent and the legally innocent (5). Mr. Dieter and all of those active in this debate are well aware of this. Death penalty opponents have chosen to be deceptive. (also see Sections IV. OK to Execute the Innocent? and VI. The Innocent Executed, below). This is hardly surprising.

As Dieter and other death penalty opponents make no distinction between the actually innocent and the legally innocent, why don't they claim that over 2500 innocents have been "exonerated" from death row? That is the number of legally and actually innocent released from death row since 1973 (6). The answer is obvious. They hoped that the media and others might just assume that the 102 (and the previous lesser numbers) were actually innocent and not ask any questions. And that is exactly what has happened -- a successful deception, aided by the poor fact checking standards of the media. The 2500 number, even for the media, is just too large a number for such blind acceptance.

As this deception has begun to unravel, Dieter "clarifies" that all 102 former death row inmates on the innocence list have been exonerated in one of three ways.

"A defendant whose conviction is overturned by a judge must be further exonerated in one of three ways: he must be acquitted at a new trial, or the prosecutor must drop the charges against him, or a governor must grant an absolute pardon." (7)

Dieter is consistent.

None of those exoneration categories establishes, or even suggests, actual innocence.

Acquittal, which is a "not guilty" verdict, means that the state was unable to meet the necessary burden of proof, in establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It has nothing to do with establishing actual innocence.

In a case that has been overturned on appeal, the prosecution may drop the charges because of many reasons, the least likely being actual innocence (insert citation). For example, appellate courts may rule that evidence or testimony was constitutionally inadmissible, thereby removing the specific evidence of actual guilt from any prospect of a new trial and, thereby, precluding another trial.

And an absolute pardon may have nothing to do with actual innocence.

Just recall all the uproar over the pardons granted by President Clinton on the eve of his leaving office. I recall only one of those many cases wherein the defendant claimed actual innocence, and I don't recall any appellate judge giving any support to such a claim. Or recall ex-President Richard Nixon, pardoned by President Gerald Ford? Does anyone doubt that President Nixon was actually guilty of obstructing justice? Of course not.

Once again, we have example after example, whereby Dieter tells us that the DPIC standards have nothing to do with actual innocence. And this is simply back peddling on his part. As more and more people observe the extent of the fraud within the innocence claims of death penalty opponents, Dieter and other opponents will continue to change their definitions to justify their deceptive numbers.

And the "innocence" standards get worse.

Death penalty opponents have " . . . included supposedly innocent defendants who were still culpable as accomplices to the actual triggerman." (8). The law often finds such criminal accomplices legally guilty for their involvement in murders, even if they, themselves, didn't "pull the trigger". For example: Does anyone think that Bin Laden was innocent in the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings?

The DPIC, and other opponents, allegedly so devoted to legal standards in one circumstance -- presumption of innocence -- abandon a legal standard -- the law of parties -- when doing so can further increase their false "innocents" claims.

What "standards" will death penalty opponents create next to deceptively raise their innocence claims?

As the innocence frauds of death penalty opponents continue to unravel, they are now changing their definitions, as if they never meant that all the cases were actually innocent. In other words, they are just piling lie upon lie.

The evidence is overwhelming that some death penalty opponents were stating that the 102, nationwide, were actually innocent people, who had no connection to the murders. They lied.

Now they are stating it was just some function of release, as related above, or that they were only speaking of the "presumption of innocence", the legal standard for defendants, during trial. They have always been lying about the collective innocence claims, now they deceptively change the definitions, as their previous claims are imploding.

The DPIC's newest standard?

"There may be guilty persons among the innocents, but that includes all of us." (9). Good grief. DPIC wishes to apply collective guilt of capital murder to all of us. Or maybe DPIC is about to declare all those sentenced to death and executed as innocent. Take your pick, they could go either way.

A final mea culpa?

Dieter states: "I don't think anybody can know about a person's absolute innocence." (Green). In other words, Dieter won't assert absolute innocence in 1, 102 or 350 cases. Not today, anyway.

Or, Dieter will declare all innocent: "If you are not proven guilty in a court of law, you're innocent." (Green) By this all inclusive (and ridiculous) standard, Dieter would call Hitler and Stalin innocent.

So no one deludes themselves, the innocence concern has always been about convicting the actually innocent -- the "I had no connection to the murder" cases -- and what risk that represents for executing an actually innocent person.

Even Dieter has always known (and never disputed, so far) that we don't execute legally innocent people.

Death penalty opponents wrongly state the burden of proof for "innocents" is not theirs to make -- that defendants are "innocent until proven guilty". This is pure sophistry. The "innocent until proven guilty" is a legal standard, that only applies to fact finders in a criminal case. The "innocent" claims by death penalty opponents are part of a public policy debate which, allegedly, is concerned with the actually innocent sent to death row and how that may result in an actually innocent executed.

What is the real number of actual innocents released from death row?

A review of the DPIC 102 case descriptions finds that only about 32 claim actual innocence, with alleged proof to support the claim. 12 of those 32 are DNA cases. That is 32 cases out of about 7300 death sentences since 1973, or 0.4%. National Review's Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, independently, came up with the same number for his "Bad List" article (10).

When reviewing various case descriptions by DPIC and then comparing them to the actual record, there is an obvious pattern of inaccuracy (11). This provides little doubt that many of the remaining 32 case descriptions by DPIC are also inaccurate. No responsible, objective party would depend upon the DPIC case descriptions.

Furthermore, Northwest U. Law Prof. Lawrence Marshall, a death penalty opponent, who organized the National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty in Chicago 1998, stated that, "In a good half of these 75 [now 102] cases, the exoneration is so complete that it erases any doubt whatsoever," (12). Prof. Marshall's uncorroborated claims find proof of factual innocence in 38 cases.

Why do death penalty opponents claim that they have proof for half their innocent claims, then claim twice that number as innocent?

This claim is consistent with the 13 innocents/exonerations from Illinois. There appears to be some doubt about an innocence claim in about half of those cases. (13)

California Assistant Attorney General Ward Campbell finds that at least 68 of the DPIC 102 cases do not belong on the innocence list. He has not conceded that all the remaining 34 do belong on the list. (14).

"On July 1, 2002, in the case of United States v. Quinones, 205 F.Supp.2d 256 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York declared that the Federal Death Penalty Act (was) unconstitutional."

"The federal court based its decision in part on the DPIC List. The federal court itself analyzed the List and applied undefined “conservative criteria” to conclude that 40 defendants on the List were released on grounds indicating “factual innocence.” However, 23 of the names on the Quinones’ List are names which (Ward Campbell's) study submits should be eliminated from the DPIC List."

"If the Quinones court's analysis of the DPIC List is combined with this critique's (Campbell's) analysis, only 17 defendants should be on the List, not the 102 defendants currently listed." (14A).

Furthermore, the Judge in that Quinones case, Rakoff, has since stated that the innocence number might be 30, not the 40 he stated during the case, indicating the combined numbers are, now, most certainly, lower than 17.

Of those 102 DPIC "innocent" cases, 24 have been identified by the DPIC as being from the state of Florida. The Florida Commission on Capital Cases conducted a thorough review of those 24 cases. The Commission found that 4 of those might have a credible claim of actual innocence. (15).

That reveals an 83% error by the DPIC in their Florida case descriptions. If the DPIC has a consistent error rate, nationwide, that would indicate that there is evidence for claiming 17 actual innocents within their 102 innocents claim -- or 0.2% of the 7400 sentenced to death since 1973.

It is hardly a coincidence that the same number of likely actual innocents -- 17 -- is also found when combining the Campbell and Quinones lists.

Based upon those three reviews, 17 is the most credible number for actual innocents released from death row since 1973. And 83% seems to be the common error rate for "innocents" claims by death penalty opponents.

symmakhos
Friday, July 28th, 2006, 09:07 PM
Does Sharp actually suggest that death row inmates are guilty unless proven innocent? This line of reasoning works both ways: of the 2500 (!?) who were "exonerated" after having spent time on death row, does he mean that there is proof (!) that all but 17 of them were in fact guilty?

I don't understand the relation of the number 2500 to that of 102, nor do I know the criteria according to which Assistant Attorney General Ward Campbell may declare that acquitted people are in fact guilty. Does the "2500" include those who have been granted pardon, which seems to be hinted at, although not opendly stated by Sharp? In that case they are not "exonerated", and the figure 2500 is absolutely irrelevant: pardon does not suggest innocence.

Most of Sharp's argument is ad hominem - or rather ad organisationem: he claims that DPIC are liars and cheats because they confuse "innocent in the eyes of the law" with "de facto innocent". Then he himself resorts to the same kind of magic numerology as he accuses them of, only more deceitful.

In fact Sharp's analysis reeks of politics of the most sordid kind, the kind that gladly sacrifices innocent lives for the glory of political power. DPIC are of course also political, but at least they try to save people's lives.

17, 38, 102, or 2500: even the lowest number, which according to Sharp and Campbell denotes the people who are proven innocent after having been sentenced to death, still makes it likely that innocents have in fact been executed.

I am personally against the death penalty in peace time. It is not that I don't agree that many of these people deserve nothing better than a swift death - or in some cases even a slow, painful one. But I do believe that it is inevitable that a legal system sometimes convicts innocents, as the legal system consists of people, not machines. People will make mistakes, and they will err wilfully.

I also believe that 20 years on death row is twenty years of mental torture. This I think no human should be subjected to, even if they have deserved it. To quote Hemingway:


Scientists say that hanging is really a very pleasant death. The pressure of the rope on the nerves and arteries of the neck produces a sort of anesthesia. It is waiting to be hanged that bothers a man.

VilhelMina
Sunday, July 30th, 2006, 07:58 PM
Does Sharp actually suggest that death row inmates are guilty unless proven innocent? This line of reasoning works both ways: of the 2500 (!?) who were "exonerated" after having spent time on death row, does he mean that there is proof (!) that all but 17 of them were in fact guilty?

I don't understand the relation of the number 2500 to that of 102, nor do I know the criteria according to which Assistant Attorney General Ward Campbell may declare that acquitted people are in fact guilty. Does the "2500" include those who have been granted pardon, which seems to be hinted at, although not opendly stated by Sharp? In that case they are not "exonerated", and the figure 2500 is absolutely irrelevant: pardon does not suggest innocence.

Most of Sharp's argument is ad hominem - or rather ad organisationem: he claims that DPIC are liars and cheats because they confuse "innocent in the eyes of the law" with "de facto innocent". Then he himself resorts to the same kind of magic numerology as he accuses them of, only more deceitful.

In fact Sharp's analysis reeks of politics of the most sordid kind, the kind that gladly sacrifices innocent lives for the glory of political power. DPIC are of course also political, but at least they try to save people's lives.

17, 38, 102, or 2500: even the lowest number, which according to Sharp and Campbell denotes the people who are proven innocent after having been sentenced to death, still makes it likely that innocents have in fact been executed.

I am personally against the death penalty in peace time. It is not that I don't agree that many of these people deserve nothing better than a swift death - or in some cases even a slow, painful one. But I do believe that it is inevitable that a legal system sometimes convicts innocents, as the legal system consists of people, not machines. People will make mistakes, and they will err wilfully.

I also believe that 20 years on death row is twenty years of mental torture. This I think no human should be subjected to, even if they have deserved it. To quote Hemingway:

An acquittal because the prosecution has not proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean that the defendant did not actually commit the crime. A jury must acquit someone who is probably guilty but whose guilt is not established beyond a reasonable doubt. An acquittal means that the defendant is “legally innocent”, but not necessarily “actually innocent.” Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 225 (1976) (White, J. conc.)

Unfortunately, there are procedural loopholes in the law in which death row/violent crime inmates have been released. American laws were drafted to protect the people, but they have been turned around and used in favor of the criminal.

Defendants are acquitted for many reasons, the least likely being innocence. A defendant may be acquitted even though almost every member of the jury is satisfied of his guilt if even one juror harbors a lingering doubt. He/she may be acquitted if critical evidence of his guilt is inadmissible because the police violated the Constitution in obtaining the evidence by unlawful search or coercive interrogation. (loopholes-think “OJ Simpson”)

Dieter is correct in stating that we will never know about a person’s absolute innocence. We can only hope that science will continue to help bring killers to justice.

As for the legal system making mistakes, there are no perfect human institutions. But far more innocent lives have been taken by convicted murderers than the supposed innocent’s mistakenly executed this century.

But there is, to this day, still no factual proof that an innocent has been executed since 1900. (due process)

All the public can expect is authorities will take every precaution against error. The burden of proof is the greatest in capital crime, and forensics get more and more exacting every day.

In my opinion, there should be zero compassion for anyone who has taken another life. What should we do with murderers? Let them out to commit more crimes? If they are not to sit in prison, or sent to death, are we to turn a blind eye and sacrifice real innocent lives?

Where is the compassion in honoring the previous victim’s suffering and in protecting the human rights of future victims?

If no human should be subjected to death row, then the only possible solution is to end one’s life. Why should we preserve those who display the least reverence for human life?

Symmakhos, what do you believe the answer to be? What should be done?


If there is no proof that innocents have been executed in the US, the probability is overwhelming:
The probability of being unjustly executed is several orders of magnitude lower than the probability of winning the lottery. That may not be philosophically logical, but in practical terms it does suggest an order of priorities to worry about.