“Inoculation”

I once debated a law school professor who supported the death penalty. His argument was simple. Capital punishment is like vaccination (this was before the rise of the bizarre anti-vaxxer phenomenon). As he saw it, vaccination makes a very few people ill, while preventing disease in millions of others.  With capital punishment, a few innocent people are executed, but many more people are kept safe.

( I asked him whether he’d feel that sanguine about a “few mistakes” if he were  innocent and on death row. But I digress.)

More to the point, there is no credible evidence that capital punishment has a deterrent effect that protects anyone. Especially in “crimes of passion”–where one angry spouse picks up that easily-available gun and offs the other, for example–the notion that the shooter indulges in a cost-benefit analysis before pulling the trigger is ludicrous.

If we really wanted to deter murder, we’d limit possession of guns.

Justice Scalia once suggested that the execution error rate was minimal, around 0.027%. As usual, his figure was a product of ideology rather than research.

Four scholars–Samuel Gross (University of Michigan Law School), Barbara O’Brien (Michigan State University College of Law), Chen Hu (American College of Radiology) and Edward H. Kennedy (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)–recently examined data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Department of Justice in an effort to estimate the rate of false convictions among death row defendants.

After examining 7,482 cases, they estimated that 1 in 25 death row inmates are wrongly convicted. They conclude: “With an error rate at trial over 4%, it is all but certain that several of the 1,320 defendants executed were, in fact, innocent.

If 4% of people who got vaccinated died–and there was no credible evidence that inoculation prevented disease– I’d join the anti-vaxxers.

 

 

31 thoughts on ““Inoculation”

  1. A 4% error rate strikes me as a huge opportunity for improvement in wrongful convictions regardless of the sentence. Our trial process is suppose to be the best that we can do in getting things right. If we’re wrong that often in capital cases what is the rate for others that may be less rigorous? I assume technology like DNA is making things more precise. Is there a trend down in error rate?

  2. Capital punishment, which I fully support, is geared to protect the criminal. There is a limit on the number of appeals that can be filed but no time limit in which to file these appeals. If they have not been proven innocent using all appeals within a reasonable time-frame (not 15-20 years), they won’t be proven innocent. The death penalty is not used and we continue to support the criminals, sometimes for decades, while also paying for medical and dental care and often for their legal defense and investigation. We take better care of criminals in this state and this country than we do not only victims but, the working middle and lower income residents who pay for their defense and their well-being for years.

    Yes, yes, yes; I am aware of cases where criminals have been found innocent years later because there was no time limit in which to work to prove them innocent, they are the minority. Would you really want to still be supporting Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacey, Jeffery Dahmer (no death sentence as reward for telling the truth, killed by another prisoner) and others like them. The money wasted on their support could be used to investigate and defend other prisoners who just might be innocent. Stephen Judy, here in Indianapolis several years ago, after being released from a mental institution for attacking his sister with an axe at age 15; raped and murdered a young mother, threw her three children into Fall Creek where they drowned. He fought FOR HIS death penalty; telling court officials there was always the chance he would be released and he would kill again if he wasn’t executed and their family members might be the victims. George Zimmerman, arrested for his fourth known violent act after killing Trayvon Martin, has again been turned loose on the steets of Florida. Whatever your views on that particular case; continuing to release this violent man because victims drop charges, is giving him permission to repeat his violent acts. This will continue till he kills again or maims a victim because criminal’s rights are protected before victim’s. Criminals have the right to a speedy trial; victims do NOT have that right. Remember Bisard and the continuing Richmond Hills trio who still haven’t gone to trial. There is no innoculation against being a victim followed by further victimization through the legal system.

  3. Tthete are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but death should only be used for the most heinous of crimes, and only if there is absolutely no doubt of their guilt. The entire “Justice” system needs to decide whether they are going to merely punish or really rehabilitate.

  4. The violent criminal mind does not function like the normal mind; there is some element of control or conscience that is lacking or missing. The death penalty may function as a deterrent for a “normal” person, but may not have any meaning to a violent criminal who thinks they won’t get caught, convicted, executed or that it doesn’t matter either way. This would be difficult to measure but I think it’s a reasonable assumption.

  5. Recent studies show that the most effective deterrent to crime is a high rate of apprehension and shorter sentences work better. So that if there is a greater then 60% chance of being caught then a shorter sentence is effective in deterring crime. So we should focus on criminalizing acts that we are willing to spend the resources to prevent

  6. I’m one of those that will never get another flu shot. I got one about a decade ago and got sick as a dog and everyone said, no way, it wasn’t the flu shot. Then last August found out I’m allergic to eggs…makes sense to me. Have any of you looked at the ingredients of flu shots? Lots of metal that will never be shot in my arm again. Never. And the argument isn’t about Not getting all vaccinations, its the age of the child and the number they give them all at once that these anti-vax people are protesting. When we were kids, we got vaccinations but they have tripled in number and starting them much younger now. I had measles and mumps and infertility. Are they connected??? I don’t know.

    I don’t believe in the death penalty anymore. I used to but now I don’t. Too many mistakes have been made and I could never send a person to their death.

  7. Gail; who did these studies, who did they study, where was the study done and when were they done? There are some criminals who should never breathe free air; like the man arrested here this summer for killing his second wife because he had only served less than half the sentence for killing his first wife. We still have not been told why he was turned loose on the streets of Indianapolis. My nephew was sentenced to 84 years for molesting handicapped little boys and a few family members for almsot 20 years before he was caught and convicted. If he gets out early, you want to give him room and board or even move him into your neighborhood? My brother was a part-time career criminal till he was murdered at age 32; he had a rather skewed look at the times he was convicted when innocent or recieved a sentence too long to fit the crime. He said he considered he was serving time for something he did that they didn’t catch him at. Can’t argue with his logic. He was part-time criminal because when he had a regular job he didn’t join his “friends”; this is what got him murdered. Crime and punishment is not a one-size-fits-all situation.

  8. Keep in mind that the “law & order” crowd is usually quite opposed to re-examining guilt even upon the discovery of new evidence or new technology to examine evidence. Just a few years ago, SCOTUS gave a pass to a prosecutor that obtained a bad conviction by knowingly withholding exculpatory evidence. And there is no pause at the notion of executing a mentally ill person. So why would statistics or logical arguments hold any sway?

  9. Scalia is comfortable citing statistics–wrong statistics in this case–because it isn’t his life that will fall into “oops” category. Life matters. This is a horrible court.

  10. I am not a pacifist by any means. However, I totally oppose the Death Penalty. The Death Penalty seems arbitrary at best. I sincerely doubt a terrorist who decides to go on a murderous rampage stops for mill-second to consider he or she might face the death penalty. A sentence of Life in Prison should mean Life. A sentence of 20 years should be Twenty Years.

  11. I can find no moral rationale for the killing of innocent people in order that we might have revenge, justice or most egregiously save money. An old pair of numbers demonstrate why.

    From NYT-2/1/2000
    “Since 1973, 85 people have been found to be innocent and released from death row.”–“More than 600 inmates have been put to death since 1977, when the Supreme Court allowed the reinstatement of the death penalty. ”

    We have not reformed the criminal justice system sufficiently to reduce human error or bias. I can agree to no possibility of parole in individual cases with enough oversight but cannot condone killing the innocent knowingly or unknowingly.

    Each of us, if we dig deep enough are related to serial killers and to royalty. At .4%, 4%, or 24% an error rate is still an error rate.

    Killing an innocent person to assuage an emotional reactivity to erroneous or actual injustice is repugnant to me, is contrary any sense of systemic ethical behavior and defies rationality and spirituality if either are guides to living.

  12. A number of studies indicate that imprisonment for life is cheaper than the death penalty. This seems counter-intuitive, but before prisoners are executed, they are allowed access to the full extent of due process afforded all citizens (and rightly so) before the state imposes the ultimate penalty from which there’s no remediation if the state gets it wrong. Years of appeals are more expensive than lifetime imprisonment.
    Here are a couple of resources on the subject:

    * http://uspolitics.about.com/od/deathpenalty/i/death_penalty_2.htm?utm_term=death%20penalty%20pros%20and%20cons&utm_content=p1-main-2-title&utm_medium=sem&utm_source=msn&utm_campaign=adid-5f5072db-7b4b-4410-8ff8-b0554369f8c5-0-ab_msb_ocode-28815&ad=semD&an=msn_s&am=broad&q=death%20penalty%20pros%20and%20cons&dqi=&o=28815&l=sem&qsrc=999&askid=5f5072db-7b4b-4410-8ff8-b0554369f8c5-0-ab_msb

    * http://www.nbcnews.com/id/29552692/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/execute-or-not-question-cost/#.VLKrp1oeXdk.

    There is also the view that imprisonment is a harsher penalty than death since the perpetrator is relieved of any mental anguish from loss of liberties in death but not in a life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

  13. The application of the death penalty is so skewed against the poor and minorities that I cannot in good conscience support it. I once firmly supported the death penalty. When you view the statistics regarding racial makeup and economic class, it is very clear that the system is geared to protect the white and wealthy from this kind of punishment. Also, the interviews of prosecutors and judges who tried and sentenced people who were later proven innocent show that there is seldom any admission of error and remorse. Often it is evident that the original trial and prosecution were weighted by political and racial influences. I would rather err on the side of the innocent. Forcing the guilty to live out their lives in prison may be costly but is still the best option, in my opinion.

  14. The death penalty is not in place to scare off criminals; it is instituted after the fact. Criminals will be criminals no matter what threat you hold over their heads; that is why our jails nd prisons are full.

  15. 150 People Have been Exonerated since 1973.
    And, if the numbers cited are correct, nearly 53 of those 1230 who have already been executed are likely to have been innocent as well.

    Why aren’t THEY considered victims?

    Why aren’t their mothers, fathers, wives and daughters and sons calculated into the sympathy we have for victims?

    Why does the incredible emotional and financial toll their families bear as they sit in a courtroom day after day knowing that their loved one is innocent not elicit an ounce of sympathy from DP supporters? What about the day they witness their loved one put to death for a crime where there exists a probability that the state may be executing the wrong person?

    How Much Could Someone Pay You To Watch A Loved One Executed For Something They Didn’t Do For You To Be OK With It Because “The System Isn’t Perfect”?

    What is the value of an “Oops- Sorry, We had the wrong guy” to the family of a wrongfully executed individual who can’t get their loved one back? (Because they are sure as hell going to have a tough time getting any financial compensation from the state!) By knowingly and intentionally exercising our will to murder innocent people we are just as bad as those who are guilty of this most heinous crime. I would argue we, as a nation, are worse than those deviant individuals because we’ve institutionalized and rationalized our actions so much that even when we know better we just can’t help ourselves and continue doing it anyway.

    So Why No Sympathy For Those Victims of the System?

    To call a spade a spade – it’s probably because those families don’t look a lot like yours so it’s easier not to care. It’s easy to excuse ambivalence toward the taking of innocent lives with the (pathetic) excuse “well they must have done something wrong…” which is a Neanderthal excuse at best and indicative that one fails to understand or value the principles of justice this country was founded upon. It is also one of the hallmarks of a society or an individual who paints with an exceptionally broad brush entire groups as being beneath them and therefore “lesser than” and less worthy of our concern, respect or just application of our laws.

    That number I threw out- it was just a back of the envelope calculation of the innocent defendants that have already been caught up in an unjust system (not including the lives of countless loved ones who also become victims of the system). Lives like your own or that of a loved one or neighbor or friend who may not have the financial resources to adequately defend themselves if wrongfully accused, charged and convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. It doesn’t factor in the enormous financial drain to our society caused by all of the other death penalty cases that exist. If you want the financial arguments as to why we are insane to maintain our Death Penalty system I’ll be happy to oblige, but this post will be long enough without getting into the monstrosity of a financial burden our Death Penalty system is.

    The death penalty is still carried out in a completely arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory way and anyone who supports it should understand and accept that their tolerance of the system as is is an acceptance that it actually IS OK to murder another human being if it justifies fulfilling your vindictive side. Because that’s all it does.

    We are more than 30 years beyond Furman and we still haven’t figured out how to make the system work without “accidents” (or as the case often is – willful ignor-ance of factual innocence, political motivations and/or police/prosecutorial misconduct that has often led to a wrongful convictions.) We execute because they are poor, because they are uneducated, because they are mentally deficient (our outright mentally handicapped) and because they lack the resources and social mobility to rise above the poverty and social dysfunction that many of them are born into.

    We Execute Because We Are An Angry And Vengeful People Whose
    Racial And Class Biases Compel Us To Believe We Are Doing What Is Morally Superior
    Even In The Face Of Facts That Tell Us We Are Wrong.

    You can either be OK with that or not, but if you are OK with the fact that our system knowingly creates victims that are just as profoundly and irreparably damaged as that caused by “real criminals” then you need to know and accept that is precisely what you are owning up to.

  16. Great comments Al!

    You can find the most up to date numbers on the Death Penalty Information Center’s website. It’s a veritable treasure trove of state and federal statistics on the issue. (This subject has been one of my most passionately researched issues over the last few decades.)

    And JoAnn –

    Our jails and prisons are full due to the privatization and profitization of our prison industry. The private prison industry is one of the largest and most influential lobbying groups in our country and it’s the one issue that politicians know they can play to their advantage EVERY DAMNED ELECTION regardless of the statistical, financial and factual truth about the effectiveness of many of our policies. It’s easy to make money off the backs of the poor when they don’t have the education, resources or social support networks to prevent them from being ensnared in the discriminatory practices of our justice system. Politicians know this which is why no one ever votes against opening a new prison or implementing harsher policy reforms that may cause more harm than good.

  17. I also find it ironic (and infuriating) that the most ardent Death Penalty Supporters also claim to be Christian and/or Pro-life (which is a whole other kettle of piranhas). It’s almost as if their version of the Bible was a misprint and lacked the most fundamental and essential teachings about compassion, justice and forgiveness.

    I don’t think it gets much clearer than,
    “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”
    [Proverbs 24:11]

  18. Melissa; I believe you have it backwards. Privatization and profitization are taking advantage of the prisons filled with criminals who have are there due to crimes they have committed. They are not committing crimes so they can go to prison. Just as there is money to be made from all wars; there is money to be made in the private business world due to crime…by more than the criminals and the attorneys.

  19. Michael –
    For some INSANE cases on prosecutorial misconduct you should look up the Duke Lacrosse case and Indiana’s own (and recent!) David Camm acquittal. It was his third trial after prosecutors completely misled two prior juries. The struggle to prove your innocence once you have been designated as the target by police and prosecutors is an arduous and sysephean one that some never overcome so it was incredible for me to follow Camm’s case so closely for years (over a decade) and get to see true justice served for an inncoent man.

  20. JoAnn

    I spent years as an avid and passionate student of every aspect our Criminal Justice system and have remain connected with the research and sources that have the most significant policy implications so my statement is not anecdotal or based in personal conviction.

    There are significant flaws in our system that are capitalized on to a staggering degree and to believe otherwise is to stick your head in the sand and deny the evidence that criminal justice students, practitioners and researchers have been trying to scream to the world for years.

  21. Just out of curiosity – how do you explain the fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners?

    Think about it… 25% of the entire worlds prison population is incarcerated in the United States.

    Is our country REALLY that morally inferior to produce such an extraordinarily high rate of incarceration among all other countries or have we just figured out the mathematical model which has made a lot people wealthy by making it profitable to implement laws against consensual crimes and low level offenses?

    What was that “deviant criminal” Eric Garner doing when he crossed paths with the law? (You know- the guy who was choked to death during that altercation…)

    Selling a loose cigarette….

    Why is that even a crime? What great harm to society is resolved by this “crime”? Who is making money off the court fees and criminalization of shit like this?

    The private prison complex to which most states have sold off their prison and jail oversight sure as hell have a huge incentive to keep those quack charges on the books.

  22. Melissa; being an avid and passionate student of the Criminal Justice System doesn’t mean squat. Try being 77 years old, deaf and disabled and being drug down your driveway at 11:00 in the morning then slammed head first onto that asphalt driveway, then slide down a small incline on your face, filling your mouth with gravel, dirt and grass and cutting the inside of your mouth. Then lay bleeding and yelling for help with your head split open and your entire face scraped and cut and raw with bits of grit and gravel imbedded in your skin. Then lay there as neighbors gather around watching you tryng to make sense of what people are saying to you but being deaf, this is impossible. You are also disabled, you have wet your pants, you are trying to answer questions from all sides but only those who pay attention and write their questions make any sense to you, you were not and are not afraid but are seriously pissed. When you were slammed onto the driveway as the almost 6 foot tall man finally jerked your purse straps from your arm; you land on your already painful arthritic shoulder, hip and knee; your neck and base of your skull are painful, you learn later that one disc in your neck has been displaced. Your clothes are bloody; luckily you have your house keys in your pocket so police can go in to get your address book to call your daughter-in-law. No idea where your cane has gone till a neighbor brings it to you; strangers are poking and prodding you, applying pressure to the split – not a cut – in your forehead from the impact of hitting the driveway. Then the ambulance hauls you away to the ER where you lay for over 3 hours before they even clean your bloody face or check the cuts inside your mouth. You are hooked up to machines and poked and prodded but no one ever thinks to bring you a drink of water.

    Then, Melissa, head back to your studies of the Criminal Justice System and see if you can please tell me why the f&#k there are no Battery charges filed and why there are no Fraud charges filed for the mugger and his driver using your 2 credit cards 8 times that day. You might also ask the Criminal Justice System how the hell any of this happened when the two criminals had been identified four days earlier after elbowing a 90 year old woman in the face, breaking her glasses causing facial cuts and knocking one tooth out of her dentures before grabbing the $20 bill out of her hand and her purse from her lap. They were identifed at that time and undercover police followed them but didn’t see me get mugged, didn’t see them use my credit cards 8 times that day; they did find them that evening at a nearby motel. One undercover cop registered in the room next door to continue their “surveilance”. Still following them days later they parked in the small MCL parking lot at 10th and Arlington, carefully watching the car but didn’t see the man get out of the car to attack and rob victim number 4; another elderly woman. Please let me know if your studies of the Criminal Justice System can explain why none of the four victims have even been interviewed by prosecutors or why the criminals are only charged with 4 counts of Robbery but no Battery charges and 1 count of Fraud for using the last stolen credit card one time. Had you been any one of these victims; how much help would your avid and passionate studenthood of the Criminal Justice System done you? These four attacks happened the last two weeks of April last year; we are all still waiting to learn something – anything from our local Criminal Justice System. Any suggestions?

  23. Let’s be frank, the Republicans and the rest of the authority culture love killing people. To them, human life has no intrinsic worth.

    Their death porn movie by their favorite angry old director is currently in theaters, lionizing the murdering thug Chris Kyle who gleefully executed Iraqis for nothing more than walking on their own streets. This murdering thug is held up as a “hero” by the Republicans and the FoxNews death cult. If you read Republican forums, they spare not a word of compassion for the people Kyle gunned down from his hidden sniper hole in an apartment building.

    So also Republicans go with the wrongly convicted. Admitting that a person was wrongly convicted tarnishes the shine of the police and prosecutors, and the Republicans and FoxNews would rather see an occasional innocent person die rather than face embarrassment of their core constituency. Republicans want a society of total control, and total control is threatened if the people have doubts about the competency and honesty of those in control.

    Quickly killing the convicted, particularly persons wrongly convicted, is a high priority for Republicans, so you’ll regularly find Republicans being the first to argue against limiting appeals and quickly imposing death sentences.

    Dead innocent people can’t petition for retrial, so the police get to bury their mistakes.

    What was I drinking that I used to be so into that party? I used to be first in line to bash liberals. Did liberals change? Did I change? Did Republicans change? What the heck happened to the world?

  24. I am well aware of your story JoAnn.
    I read this blog faithfully every morning.

    I GET THAT YOU ARE ANGRY.
    I GET THAT THE SYSTEM FAILED YOU.

    However, this is NOT a zero sum game and, although you were denied justice- we CAN NOT deny justice to others who are entirely unrelated to your case.

    There is also a double standard at work here and I was waiting for you to being up your story in this thread to bring it up so – Thank You.

    You can not in good conscious say that the system failed you on one hand and then hold it up as an infallible and competent system of justice that works. You can’t have it both ways.

    The system either works or it has significant systemic problems that need to be addressed. I prefer to look at the statistics the program and policy evaluations and say- “Holy crap- no wonder why the homicide rate in Indy is so high! We’ve made a mockery of our funding for effective public policy and safety!” Because that’s what’s going on in Indy right now. Funding has been cut (but hooray for those property tax caps!!) and public safety resources are stretched. Courts and CJ systems are at capacity or understaffed which means – as you experienced – a lot of shit falls through the cracks.

    Is it fair?

    Absolutely not and the trauma of your experience is something you may never let yourself overcome. But the problem isn’t solved by throwing a wider net to pull in more people for low level non-violent crimes or prosecute consensual crimes. The solution is to look at what we have and are willing to spend, analyze what works and what costs are justified by the return on investment (decreases in overall crime and increased public safety being the measure against which policies and programs measured and NOT by popularity or political gain) and not cave to allowing politicians to implement fear based ineffective policies because that’s what we have now.

    In order for laws to be effective justice needs to be Swift AND Certain. You didn’t get that in your case and that is something that hurts not just you but the entire community. We need that for everyone in order to improve our system and ensure safety in our community. Understanding how we are spending (read: throwing away) our finite resources – which right now amount to thousands of millions of dollars across the country every year in death penalty prosecutions alone is only one part of the puzzle. In Maryland alone it costs 1.9 million MORE to try a Death penalty case over a LWOP case. almost TWO million per case! How many police salaries would that cover? How many more prosecutors and probation officers salaries would that pay for? Why are we throwing away money on people who we KNOW we can deal with just as effectively for a fraction of the cost?

    I hope you find strength and inspiration to heal from your injuries and to become a voice for much needed change within our system in the coming year. I truly hope that your approval of a policy that you know puts innocent people to death (4% of the time!) has nothing to do with your assault because all that tells me is that you are so angry about your own experience that you can’t engage in productive or rational discourse about this completely unrelated topic. All of which is sad, because your other posts have all implied that you are incredibly bright and articulate when assessing facts and policy implications.

  25. Melissa; you need to reread my comments, carefully! Nowhere have I said that justice should be denied to others because it was denied and IS BEING denied to myself and 3 other elderly women in this particular case. Nor have I ever said the system is an Infallible and competent system that works…it is not. I am amazed that the mugger and his getaway driver were caught – and caught quickly, especially due to the Keystone Kops IMPD undercover cops “following” them. When they were arrested I was silly enough to believe they would be charged with all the crimes they had committed on their two week spree against elderly women. The fact that they are not being charged and, we are all aware of the plea agreement system in addition to repeatedly continuing court dates, existing charges are pared down to be most agreeable to and for the defense. I cannot and will not be compensated or see justice, I didn’t expect it, nor will the other three victims in this case. I have repeatedly stated that Mark Jones and Lindsey Jones (both with criminal histories) will recieve low sentences (IF they are sentenced) and be eligible for early parole because of the few charges with nothing showing Mark Jones’ propensity for violence. They will be back on the streets seeking more victims. Read my comments again before making claims about what I have said and what I believe. I do not approve of a policy that puts 4% of people to death; I have stated the system needs to be changed – changed, not removed from the Criminal Justice System. By your comments, you appear to be an intelligent, educated young person who believes book learning is the condition of life. It is merely guidelines; facts, data and statistics compiled by fallible humans and stated as they see situations to be.

  26. I know the Professor reads the Harper’s Magazine and in the January addition, the Harper’s Index had these facts quoted. (This is a part of the stuff we’re talking about in this column).

    Estimated portion of black U.S. men who are ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction: 1/8
    Number of prison inmates per 1,000 people in China: 1.2
    In Russia: 4.8
    In the state of Louisiana: 13.4

    Those numbers speak volumes about our prison population in this country.

  27. Twenty odd years ago I was lamenting to a co-worker on the Eastern Seacoast that I could find no definitive personal alignment w/a political party. I still cannot; however, she in her eloquent manner gained from a private female college in the South assessed my situation using her best drawl, “Barbara, you’re a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.”

    At the risk of some sharp-tongued poster’s taking me to task, I support all manner of social programs including the apparent biggie, the right for a woman to make her personal choices about her reproductive matters w/out interference from others. On the other hand, while supporting this current biggie, abortion, without reservation, please do not ask me to pay for that choice for other women.

    I’ve yet to find a way to align justice w/capital punishment. Punishing another human with death does not seem like justice, frankly a rather nebulous term; it seems like a primitive form of revenge, much like the recent beheadings we read about in the world news.

    In short, many thoughtful people simply are unable to align themselves with either the agendas or litmus tests of the Democrat Party or the Republican Party.

  28. Barbara; this is why I was an Independent voter for so many years. I could pick and choose the candidate whose beliefs most closely fit my own. I resent not being able to do this any longer due to the GOP anti-human (not anti-humane) control of areas of our lives that are none of their business. Also not politial or religious in nature but personal, very personal, choices for our life and health. The capital punishment issue will always be a push me/pull you situation; and deeply personal to each of us as it should be…along with our health options and whomever we choose to love. Rodney KIng put it so simply but so wisely, “Why can’t we all just get along?” No one has the answer to that question other than it is human nature to dispute others; too often in recent years I think it is just to hear the sound of their own voices. “It is a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” Or did I just describe Fox News?

  29. JoAnn, thank you for your kind and reassuring words that I’m not alone. Perhaps I’m simply a fluke of the Universe and have no right to be here, with apologies to the National Lampoon’s Radio Hour of the past.

  30. There may be things worse than death but only inside the boundary of the individual. To go wider than someones personal scope, decide death for another unrelated in any way to your circumstance, to kill innocent people is murder and heinous. It cannot be that life is so precious to one and not another.

    I’ll be looking forward to the names on the list of volunteers for death by error. If you can demand it of others surely you can do your part to see it through. Anytime rights or justice for individuals are in conflict one will have a judgement to make.

    I suggest– do the least harm possible— is the only moral choice. Surely then death/murder of an innocent is a far higher price, an unwarranted price, to demand for closure by any living person unwilling to make a similar sacrifice.

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