Wednesday Writs: Furman v Georgia and the Death Penalty

Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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8 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    My criticisms of the Death Penalty all take the form “I do not trust the government to be competent in figuring out who did what and I don’t know that they got the right guy.” It’s a knowledge problem. Any justice problems follow from the knowledge problem.

    The arguments against the death penalty that take the form “no one should be put to death” have far too many counter-examples. There are plenty of people who do. Heck, we agree that there are people who, though they might not deserve an immediate death, deserve to be put in a room by themselves until they die of old age. Which has the benefit of being reversible, I guess, if you find that you arrested the wrong guy or something.

    But I read Kennedy v. Louisiana and I say that if the facts of the case line up with what the story seems to be, then we’re smack dab in the middle of why we have the death penalty in the first place. Assuming we don’t have a knowledge problem, Kennedy v. Louisiana created a justice problem.

    And stuff like that is why people take comfort in jokes about what happens to criminals in prison.Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    What turned me against the death penalty was ironically, the execution of Ted Bundy.

    Bundy is maybe the single best poster child for execution; He was remorseless, sociopathic yet mentally competent.

    But what I remember is watching the crowds outside, cheering and celebrating in a frenzy of bloodlust. I remember thinking of what legalized killing does to us, what sort of people it turns us into by unleashing our darkest selves.

    When I look at hisotircal pictures of executions- the painting of a man being skinned alive, or people being burned or disemboweled;
    What stands out for me isn’t the executioners, but the crowds.
    What state of mind do you have to be in, to watch someone screaming in agony, dying in front of your eyes?
    What sort of mental state do we continue to be in afterwards, and how dulled to the pain of others and indifferent to their welfare?

    By contrast, abolishing execution doesn’t increase crime by one bit, it doesn’t cost us anything. The only price we pay is that we have to let go of our rage and desire for revenge.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      If we had been willing to wait, we could have had a Jeffrey Dahmer situation and everybody could have had a clear conscience.

      Like when in an action movie the bad guy charges the good guy but misses and falls off the top of a building.Report

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    L2: Good to hear. I see no reason why any officer outside of SWAT is wearing anything but a simple blue or navy uniform. I can certainly see a utility in fatigue style uniforms (cargo pockets, etc.), but it should be very distinct from military fatigues.

    I can see a reason for SWAT, when performing the high risk duties SWAT very occasionally engages in, to wear black or some kind of urban camo.

    But no one is thinking cops on the street or cops on riot duty need camo* of any kind. We want cops to be easily identifiable as police and just easily seen by the public.

    *I had similar thoughts when the Navy switched from dungarees to the digital blue camo (or the digital woodland camo they use now, apparently). Seriously, everyone is on a ship, camo is a waste of time.Report

    • greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I’ve never seen a camo cop wearing a winter camo pattern even in mountainous or sub arctic climates. They wear the same old stuff. Makes me think the camo isn’t about camouflage.

      Of course they should all be in easily identifiable uniform.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to greginak says:

        Well, to be fair, in an urban setting, camo IS very identifiable. It makes you look like an idiot.

        Then again, outside of a war, you look like an idiot in it.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

        I’m very much of the opinion that they all just want to play soldier and look all ‘high speed, low drag’.

        I mean, if they were actual professionals instead of violent, dangerous cosplayers, they wouldn’t be shooting people directly with rubber bullets (you are supposed to bounce them off the ground), or with tear gas canisters, or beating on people who are offering no violence to them (that video of the Navy vet getting beat with sticks for telling them to remember their oaths…).Report