Skip to comments.JON CARROLL: The Senseless Death Penalty
Posted on 12/12/2005 7:49:30 AM PST by SmithL
Stanley Tookie Williams, the convicted murderer, has done an impressive amount of stuff since his incarceration in 1981. He has written an autobiography plus eight books for children about gangs and gang violence. He has spoken eloquently about the destruction that drugs and gangs can cause. He has rallied an impressive array of people to the cause of his appeal for clemency from his death sentence. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize any number of times.
His supporters say he has turned his life around. He has become a force for good. He merits special consideration because he has been so important in motivating children not to choose the life that he did. Those arguments, quite frankly, make me nuts.
I have no opinion about whether Tookie Williams has been rehabilitated. I'm not even sure that "rehabilitation" is a meaningful concept. A lot of people in prison are con artists; it's a useful skill on the street. The way to clemency was undoubtedly clear to a man of Williams' intelligence, and the fact that he chose that path means that either (a) he has had a change of heart or (b) that he hasn't. I dunno. I can't judge from afar, and neither can you.
I think subjective judgments about character are not really relevant in death penalty cases. To believe that they are relevant is to believe that uncharismatic, untalented, surly and/or mentally retarded death row prisoners are not worth saving, while a really cool guy is. Are we saying that it's OK to kill sneaky little weasel-faced people and not OK to kill handsome, intelligent, well-muscled people? It's fine to construct a hierarchy of character if one is, say, choosing a mate or a president. . . .
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
There's a way around that -- do away with clemency altogether, considering that it is generally a crass exercise in politics to begin with.
The Tookster can do more good by accepting his sentence with remorse towards his victims than any number of childrens books he may write.
...Stanley Tookie Williams, the convicted murderer, has done an impressive amount of stuff since his incarceration in 1981. ...
His victims, on the other hand, remain dead, Jon, you scumbag.
Fry this turkey!
The senseless death penalty is the penalty innocent people pay due to the actions of criminals. They die at the whim of human debris like Tookie Williams. Eliminating a cancer like Williams is a must to maintain civility. If we had about 3 human cancer deletions a day, all publicly shown, a nessage would be sent and received and most cancers like Williams would be eliminated.
The death penalty does not deter and it does not cure.
Pure liberal crap. The only reason it does not deter, is because of a liberal judiciary that does not uphold it. Criminals know that if they kill MULTIPLE PEOPLE they will be in the Death Row Hilton for decades and never executed.
Liberal hogwash. Only from San Freakcisco.
Senseless death penalty? Only if you wait 25 years before they throw the switch.
This Piece of $@#$ murdered in cold blood a man over 25 years ago.. still he sits on Death Row... he has NEVER expressed remorse for his actions, and even if he did, it doesn't negate his crime. He forfieted his life when he did what he did... let alone the tens of thousands of others who have died thanks to the gangs that he helped create....
Fry him, and let God have mercy on his soul, because he finds none from me.
Bet this Jon Carroll fellow is a pantywaist pillow-biter. He sounds a bit enamored of big, strong Stanley.
The execution of Stanley is not "cold-blooded." His murders, however were in cold blood. Inject the racist, murdering scum, NOW!
I beg the differ with you. No executed murderer has ever gone on to be a repeat offender.
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed - - "
The Manufacturer knows his product better than a thousand liberals do.
The DP is a wonderful deterrent - we should use it more often. Fry him now.
I frankly don't care if this guy has ever expressed remorse ....why should that change my mind on his punishment?
Personally I expect that his books were actually ghostwritten - all he provided was his name.
I usually don't drink in the morning but I may get up at midnight and have a toast for the toasted one.
It's impossible to prove a negative. Death penalty opponents can parade all the folks on Death Row and claim,"Look! These guys were not deterred from killing by the presence of the death penalty. Therefore, the death penalty does not deter."
But, wait a minute. Can we parade a phalanx of people who did not commit murder because they were afraid of the death penalty? Perhaps the thought of being executed deterred some from ever committing such a crime. Yes, for most rational people, morality and conscience are enough to prevent them from taking another's life. For others, the threat of life in prison is enough of a deterrent. And, for still others, perhaps only the threat of capital punishment will sway them.
Capital punishment is also a very useful bargaining chip for prosecutors. A common scenario is : "We'll take the death penalty off the table if you tell us who ordered the hit." If the threat of being executed is removed, there is much less for a district attorney to bargain with.
Finally, how do you protect corrections officers without the death penalty? If a criminal has a life sentence and then kills a C.O., what punishment would be there for him? And what of the deterrent value to a criminal who has committed a heinous, but not-capital crime--such as the kidnap and rape of a child? If he stands to get life in prison for that, he's more likely to kill the victim if there is no death penalty.
I agree with you. A relatively swift and certain death penalty would, I believe, have a strong deterrent affect.
Whenever anyone brings that up, I know they're being dishonest.
Anybody can be nominated for a Nobel. Anybody.
"He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize any number of times."
Anyone can be "nominated," even a dog.
I dunno. I can't judge from afar, and neither can you.
Yes, I can judge from afar.
Hence evidence that the death penalty is a deterrant. If they didn't care, they wouldn't make the deal.
Stanley Tookie Williams was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Albert Owens, shown in this undated photo, at a 7-Eleven in Whittier, Calif., in 1979.
Murderous thugs like Arafat can even win.
Same thoughts posted almost simultaneously.
And I swear I didn't read your post before posting mine.
Except somebody like George W. Bush, who freed 50 million Afghanis and Iraqis from the yoke of tyranny.
||Here ya go, Mr. Carroll...|
The Bible and Capital Punishment James Patrick Holding http://www.tektonics.org/af/cappun.html
..Capital punishment. Is it right or wrong? Is it necessary?
The issue is tied into a number of contexts, and we will discuss those only briefly; our main concern, as always, is the Bible's take on the matter and whether a case can be made either pro or con. We'll also be able to look at certain social factors and how they might apply today. All con-arguments below are from J. Gordon Melton's The Churches Speak on Capital Punishment, a helpful compiliation of various church's statements on this subject.
Does the Bible support capital punishment?
Few would answer this one in the negative and fewer can cite any Scripture that works against it. It is patently obvious that capital punishment (hereafter CP) was practiced in ancient Israel and was not repudiated in the NT at all.
Some have tried to find an implicit Scriptural reason to reject CP, but we will see below that such efforts take their cites out of context. On the other hand, one must carefully distinguish between saying that the Bible mandates CP and saying that it merely permits CP.
This relates to an important sub-issue: Examples of CP appear overwhelmingly in the OT law and it is prescribed for such things as adultery and witchcraft. So should we be enforcing it likewise today? No, not on that basis.
On this point let's repeat something we offered in another essay on the role of the law today. Deuteronomy is laid out in the form of an ancient treaty between a king and his vassals. It is in essence a contract between God and Israel. They "signed on" and agreed to enforce the penalties.
What's the equivalent now? We now have a new covenant or contract between Christ and the individual and the believer. The sins are paid for by Christ's blood, and he takes on the punishment for the transgression of those who break God's law and accept his payment. The old covenant and our enmity with it is now abolished (Eph. 2:15).
The non-believer, the witch, et al. aren't covered by this, but nor does our new contract contain specifications of enforcement -- that is now God's domain, with regard to each individual, on the basis of the new covenant terms. On the other hand, when a superior writes a contract, even if you are not a party to it, the contract will still give you an idea what values the superior holds to. We no longer enforce the penalties, but we still know what actions displease God, and the NT does say that God has given authority to human governments. So, it is now up to those bodies to decide whether CP is necessary.
So what is the role of the law here? It does tell us that God does approve CP as a means of justice, but should we use it today, and in what contexts?
This moves us to our next key point:
Why did these laws demand the death penalty? Many Skeptical complaints about the Bible and CP focus on this point, but such objections are time out of mind. As shown in Crenshaw's Education in Ancient Israel, obeying such laws was a matter of survival, of ensuring that what there was of civilization did not slip over that fine line from order into chaos. CP was a necessary element to social order and survival.
This naturally leads to a predominant point in the CP debate today. A primary pro-CP argument is that CP serves as a deterrent to crime. Anti-CP responses claim there is no evidence of a deterrent effect. The issue seems actually to miss a point. The lack of deterrent effect may have something to do with that we don't see the death penalty as real in our minds. Executions are far removed from all but a few witnesses, and only one person pulls the switch or administers the drug.
In contrast, CP by the OT law was enforced by the community picking up stones and taking part after the condemnation of guilt. One might suggest that the deterrent effect would be greater (and that we might be more cautious in other areas) were CP more in our face and personal, as it was for the Israelites.
It is not our place here to speak to deterrence as a reason for CP, in the modern world. There are too many societal differences (survival needs, and particularly the difference in our culture as individualistic versus collectivist) to make an easy comparison. Even one cited example by the con-side of pickpockets plying their trade at a hanging of one of their fellows for the same crime is too simple: In such cases there were balances of risk, matters of survival and chances that were taken in that light.
It is clear, however, that our theoretical level of deterrence has never approached that of the ancients -- and that there is a general principle that any behavior that threatens society as a whole may be considered worthy of the ultimate penalty.
So what now threatens society? In our present state, many of the OT crimes are not threats to society in a broader sense. Things like adultery weaken a family unit, but not, in themselves as actions of individuals, society as a whole; if enough people become adulterous, though, that may change! If a behavior like adultery became a threat to such an extent, one might argue that CP should be instituted for it at some point, but because our society is individualistic rather than collectivist, it is unlikely that that will ever happen, and we would naturally expect to try lesser measures first.
A thoughtful determination would therefore have to be made in terms of what behaviors might threaten society to the level that CP is needed as a deterrent -- though again, this ties in to our point above that CP as it now stands is not much of a deterrent at all!
Are there any cites in the Bible against capital punishment? To be sure, some efforts have been made to find Biblical support for this position, but these have tended to commit hermeneutical homicide in the process:
Ex. 20:13, Thou shalt not kill. This one has no application to judicial execution; see here: http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nokilling.html
John 8:3-11, Jesus does not endorse stoning of the adulterous woman. A good point, but invalid in context.
Because the Romans held the rule of life and death and the right to implement CP, this was a challenge to Jesus to commit sedition. If he had said, "Go ahead," he would have been arrested. By itself this offers no injunction against CP, since it was not really an option; moreover, Jesus' reply indicates, "If we are to enforce it this time, some of you are next."
The constraints of Roman power were acknowledged -- though CP itself was not thereby repudiated.
Matt. 5:38-9, Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
This is one of several passages cited of a type which encourage not resisting evil, not taking revenge, and so on. But they are all in the context of personal relationships and have nothing to do with the judicial functions of the state.
Certainly persons should forgive others who commit criminal acts against them, but this does not oblige the state to "forgive". If it did, then we could not even imprison a person or so much as exact a fine for a parking ticket.
Gen. 1:26, we are made in the image and likeness of God. The reasoning here is that being made in the image of God, we possess a certain dignity and CP is a violation of that.
But as I have shown in Chapter 1 of The Mormon Defenders, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0970906307/103-9895392-4924617?n=283155 -- the "image and likeness" has nothing to do with dignity; it has to do with our authority to represent God on earth and exercise the authority He has given us.
Thus Gen. 9:6: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." The value of the victim as the representative of God on earth is just cause for penal execution. (Although, as a proverbial statement, it by no means requires execution.)
Gen. 4:15, God spared Cain and did not execute him. True enough: Yet what little indication we have here is that this was a crime of passion (Gen. 4:8). Such crimes do not earn the death penalty in the Bible, and this only suggests that they should not earn CP today either.
Well, how about other arguments? As this gets beyond our main question -- "What does the Bible say about CP?" -- we offer only a few observations and comments, based in part on my personal experience working for my state's prison system.
CP is unfairly enacted overwhelmingly on the poor and minorities. To whatever extent this may be true, it is an argument against applying CP unfairly, but hardly constitutes an argument against CP itself.
I ask those who ply such an argument: if this were rectified, would you still have an argument against CP?
CP has the potential to kill someone who is actually innocent. To what extent this is true (and I may affirm that there are a few now in prison who probably should not have been convicted, at least not of the crimes they were!), it is again an argument only against unfair application, not CP itself. One might suggest that the answer is to increase the standards of evidence before CP can be imposed, not to simply delete CP from consideration.
CP generates unhealthy publicity. And once again: To whatever extent this may be true, it is an argument abusive media coverage of CP, but hardly constitutes an argument against CP itself.
CP is not a solution. Providing answers to root social causes of crime is the solution. One can hardly disagree that the root causes need to be addressed, but this is still not an argument against CP itself.
It would be more humane to keep someone in prison for life than to kill them. If one of the reasons for CP is to deter the person from committing the same crime again -- and even opponents acknowledge this as a valid point, while saying they would prefer life imprisonment -- this won't do much good unless you lock them in solitary, which in other contexts is admitted to be cruel and unusual punishment.
Those on the "outside" tend to forget that while society as a whole may be safe, inside prison walls a murderer has hundreds of potential victims to choose from, and I will affirm that many such inmates would as soon kill or harm one of their own as blink.
The majority of inmates have committed less serious crimes and are no happier about having a murderer in their neighborhood than you would be to have one next door. Life imprisonment does not solve the problem here, it merely moves it out of sight.
There is another point as well. As Glenn Miller has noted in another context, "the ancients disagree with moderns over what is 'morally acceptable euthanasia'. The ancients--from the evidence of suicides--clearly believed that a sudden death was preferable to an anticipated life of future suffering (e.g., slavery), an anticipated death by starvation/thirst/exposure, or of torture (e.g., capture by rival rulers)."
In the same light, a suggestion that those now on death row should perhaps be put to work for the rest of their lives reflects our own conception that any life of such misery is better than none at all. The ancients would not have agreed. Which side of Patrick Henry's proclamation we prefer could decide how we stand on this question.
We may close out now with some points and observation.
In another essay I noted that there were three purposes for response to any crime. Let's apply these contextually to CP:
Punishment/restitution. This can mean a fine, a return of property, or even a prison sentence, the latter being conceived as a way of "paying" society for the crime committed. As has been shown the Bible does apparently consider CP a viable form of payment.
Rehabilitation. I.e., taking steps to ensure that the person does not do the crime again. Many con-CP arguments allege that it is always possible to rehabilitate someone. My own experience disagrees -- I think such persons have never been inside a prison in the real world. But I would also affirm that such cases are rare, as well as, on the other hand, not really engaged under the present system of criminal justice.
Protection of the innocent. This is a hefty pro-CP point, even, as noted above, such that a life imprisonment would not be a resolution as it would put in danger those who are "relatively" and contextually innocent within the prison walls.
So it boils down to this: The Bible allows (but does not mandate) CP.
The contextual grounding within which it was applied in the Bible is now different in modern society, and we must look at the issue accordingly. Space does not permit, obviously, a full analysis of modern society and a decision on what crimes, if any, ought to warrant CP -- hence we offer no definitive conclusions beyond that it is clear that we do have it as an option.
I agree with you. A relatively swift and certain death penalty would, I believe, have a strong deterrent affect.
Texas has the right mentality.
Please don't post the picture of one of his other victims. The coroner's picture. If anyone's contemplating clemency, they just need to see that picture. I get ill just thinking about it.
I believe you.
But a court won't, so if that's a moneymaking statement, you'll owe me bigtime!
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
""He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize any number of times."
Anyone can be "nominated," even a dog."
Go back to Stormfront, scumbag.
I wonder how much of this "impressive stuff" Mr. Williams might have done had he not been sentenced to death. A man will do a lot to save his life. If the death penalty is rescinded, as this guy seems to want, then people like the Took have no reason to try and convince "the man" to spare their lives.
I love zotting Nazis.
If executing Dookie never deters another single human being from committing murder, the sentence still accomplishes its primary goal: it balances the scales as well as justice can.
I appreciate your exposition on scripture and capital punishment. Interestingly, had your analysis concluded that capital punishment is not allowed under biblical teachings, it would have been coopted by the liberals, despite their normal insistence on separation of church and state. Since the libs do claim this separation, and since this separation has infested most of the rest of government, including our legal system, our analysis should be done only the basis of logic and objectivity, and not what the left would under any other circumstances label as blind faith on a "crutch" of a God.
In my personal life I adhere to Christ's teachings, or at least I try to. But this is a government and governmental justice, which cannot be influenced by religion in selected applications, while ignoring it in all others.
The whole lot of the anti-capital punishment crowd annoys me for so many reasons. I'll narrow it to just two for now. Firstly, it is not called capital deterrent; it is called capital punishment. Frankly, I couldn't care less whether it DOES deter anyone else. Any deterrent effect is secondary to the prime reason for performing the execution and goes down in my book as a "freebie". Secondly, it seems so odd that the liberal left can, with a straight face, espouse both abortion AND anti-capital punishment causes. So, to them, it makes sense that someone who has never had the chance (or ability) to choose a life can be murdered at whim, but we should save the ones who choose evil as a way of life? You can't reason with that kind of willful, blithe ignorance.
The day the leftist relativists stop attempting to use their subjective "moral" arguments for why we shouldn't have capital punishment, thats the day when I won't use the absolute (objective) standard for morality (that our constitution guards), to rebut them.
I would not read any article with a title claiming the death penalty is "senseles".
Responding to the title, what IS senseless is waiting 25 years or more to execute scumbags. If these scumbag were executed within two yeas or so of their crimes (allowing for a reasonable appeal) the death penalty would be far more a deterrent.
How many murders are committed each year versus how many executions are carried each year? Anybody have the stats? This is why the death penalty does not scare criminals. I would like to see a daily execution carried out live on the Public Broadcast System. Now that would help deter criminals.
Yo, Tookie, continue your life's lesson to the kiddies by forfeiting yours for your murders. Wouldn't want to be a hypocrite, would you?