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Judicial killing

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Judicial killing

Post by Jill Segger on Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:26 am

First topic message reminder :

Not long ago, a friend remarked to me that if anyone were to harm his children, he would be grateful to the law for coming between him and the offender.

My friend is a liberal, irenic and civilised man. He is also entirely honest. In acknowledging the immediate desire for retaliation on the part of a person wounded or ill-used, he owns a human experience which is pretty well universal. He also recognised – as many do not – that such a response needs to be deflected and ameliorated by the adjudicating state if we are not to fall  into savagery.

However, if the state itself becomes an avenger, the savagery is institutionalised and so placed within the bounds of legality and acceptability. The danger of this is evident in so much of the public attitude towards punishment – only listen to any phone-in when a crime has caused particular outrage. The desire for revenge, often expressed in lurid terms, will prevail over any consideration of reform, rehabilitation and – I make no apology for the word – redemption. If the criminal justice system and the sentencing which it is willing to impose does not act as a balancing and humane influence, justice is not served and we are all diminished.

Nowhere is this more evident than when the death penalty is in question. It is particularly shocking to hear voices from the US, claiming to be Christian, clamouring for that against which Jesus specifically warned – the doctrine of eye for eye and tooth for tooth. Such visceral responses can all too easily find a resonance in people who have been profoundly wronged. However, the teachings of Jesus invert these responses and offer the potential for transformation. This demands more of us than giving way to the urge to retaliate as brutally as possible. And make no mistake, death rows and judicial killings are brutal.

The high proportion of black and Hispanic prisoners on the death rows of US prisons reflects both the inherent racism of the system and the manner in which poverty strips men and women of their legal rights in the Land of the Free. The sons and daughters of WASPS have both the finances and the connections to obtain good legal representation, but the sums which the state allocates for the defence of the indigent are so low that the possibility of a competent lawyer is greatly reduced. There are well authenticated accounts of attorneys who appear in court drunk, fall asleep or utterly fail to master their clients' briefs. Appeal follows appeal due to incompetence and incorrect procedure and even when the last of these has been rejected, years may pass before the death sentence is carried out. There are men and women on US death rows who have lived in the shadow of the execution chamber for over 30 years. This is not justice, but it is, beyond doubt, 'cruel and unusual punishment'.

Most of us retain our sanity by not knowing the hour or manner of our deaths. No such mercy is possible for the prisoner whose execution has been scheduled. The mechanism of state killing is obscene. The last meal, the final visits, the walk to the death chamber, the strapping of the prisoner to a gurney or electric chair, the terror, horror and pain of the too frequently bodged administration of lethal drugs or electric current, these are not the actions of civilisation or of grace. They can only be justified in the eyes of those who are hungry for vengeance and who cannot see that to respond to one killing by another is to descend to the very level which they so angrily condemn.

Some offenders pose too great a danger to be released back into society. Others need treatment for mental illness or drug addiction. The need for society to show its disapprobation of violent crime is essential and those who have committed such offences must make reparation. But let us never forget that they are our fellow humans – not 'beasts' or 'monsters' even though their actions may well have been bestial or monstrous. The words of George Fox, dear to the hearts and minds of all Quakers, are significant here: “Answer that of God in every person”.

To fail in that call is to lay oneself open to what is most cruel, base and weak in human nature. It is not necessary to be religious to abhor this failure. But there is surely a specific obligation on the followers of the radical Rabbi from Nazareth to oppose it and to speak out for a criminal justice system which embodies the most humane attributes of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in which it has its roots.


© Jill Segger is an Associate Director of the think tank Ekklesia with particular involvement in editorial issues. She is a freelance writer who contributes to the Church Times, Catholic Herald, Tribune, Reform and The Friend, among other publications. Jill is an active Quaker. See: http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/TQig/Jill-Segger You can follow Jill on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/quakerpen
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by Ivan on Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:27 pm

Hundreds of prisoners sentenced to death in the US are innocent, research suggests
 
From an article by Tom Payne:-
 
More than 4% of inmates sentenced to death on the United States’ notorious death row are probably innocent, research suggests. The findings, led by a University of Michigan Law School professor, offer a “conservative estimate” of the number of wrongfully convicted death row inmates over three decades. Researchers reviewed the outcomes of the 7,482 death sentences issued from 1973 to 2004, and found that of that group, 117 inmates were exonerated. They concluded that with enough time and resources, more than 200 other prisoners, at least 4.1%, would have been proved innocent.

The results of the probe are likely to send shock waves through anti-death penalty campaign groups. Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Centre, said the findings expose profound problems with the death penalty. “This impressive study points to a serious flaw in our use of the death penalty,” he said. “The ‘problem of innocence’ is much worse than was thought."

 
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hundreds-of-prisoners-sentenced-to-death-in-the-us-are-innocent-research-suggests-9300472.html

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Re: Judicial killing

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:14 pm

"More than 4% of inmates sentenced to death on the United States’ notorious death row are probably innocent, research suggests."

It's not much fun having a "power" if you're not going to use it.
One reason for the high incidence of gun crime in the USA, and factional fighting in the World's trouble-spots, is the availability of weapons.

"Let's see what happens when we pull the trigger/throw the switch", is a likely human reaction to possessing that option.

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Re: Judicial killing

Post by Ivan on Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:47 pm

Jill Segger wrote:-
The high proportion of black and Hispanic prisoners on the death rows of US prisons reflects both the inherent racism of the system and the manner in which poverty strips men and women of their legal rights in the Land of the Free.
This story from Texas would appear to vindicate that remark.

"A SWAT team ignited a flash-bang grenade outside Marvin Guy's apartment in Killeen. Officers were trying to climb in through a window when Guy, who had a criminal record and was suspected of possessing cocaine, opened fire. Four officers were hit, one of them was killed.

100 miles away, a SWAT officer was shot during a pre-dawn no-knock raid on another house. In that case, too, police threw a flash-bang grenade and tried to enter the residence. Henry ‘Hank’ Magee, according to his attorney, grabbed his gun to protect himself and his pregnant girlfriend. With his legally owned semi-automatic .308 rifle, Magee killed one of the officers.

The cases are remarkably similar, except for one thing: Guy is black, Magee white. And while Magee was found to have acted in self-defence, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Guy. He remains in jail while he awaits trial. Magee awaits trial for felony possession of marijuana, Guy awaits potential execution
."

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/texas-no-knock-swat-raid
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:25 pm

A lot of Americans evidently think of Afro-Americans as second-class citizens, and as a result find it inexplicable that they have a President of the wrong hue.

Who shall colonise the Colonials?
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by Ivan on Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:31 pm

Laksmi Pamuntjak is an Indonesian whose younger brother died from drug addiction. But she doesn’t want drug offenders put to death. Here are some extracts from a moving and eloquent article by her:-

I do not believe that the state has the right to arbitrarily decide life and death. Capital punishment is an expression of the absolute power of the state, and I believe there must be a limit on government power. The law is a system of rules made by human beings, and human beings are not all-knowing. They make mistakes. They have their own biases. They may be corrupt. Albert Camus said it best: “We know enough to say that this or that major criminal deserves hard labour for life. But we don’t know enough to decree that he be shorn of his future – in other words, of the chance we all have of making amends.”

My brother’s death had a profound impact on my view of life but also of death. In 2007, after I returned to Jakarta to be closer to my family, I became friends with an anti-capital-punishment activist. She told me many stories of life on death row. Some of them were hard to listen to. One in particular that stays with me was about a priest who bore witness to the agonizing death of an inmate.

I do not believe for one moment that imposing the death penalty on drug offenders is the solution to winning the war against drugs. I do not believe in killing other humans in order to show that killing is wrong, or that killing a criminal will undoubtedly prevent other criminals from killing. This is pertinent for Indonesia, because we are still coming to terms with legacies of violence and authoritarianism, born of a history where individual lives have time and again been sacrificed by the hundreds, by the thousands, for the sake of an abstract greater good.


For the whole article:-
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/25/indonesians-should-be-too-familiar-with-death-to-support-executions
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:59 pm

The classification of drugs by governments seems to ebb and flow with the tides.  Most of the time "Hard" drugs like cocaine and heroin are at the top of the prohibited list, while cannabis is a moveable feast and boundaries are constantly being tested by various substances described as a legal high.  In some  countries possession of small amounts for personal use is permitted.  In some States of America cannabis is legally available, and many responsible people are suggesting it should be made available for medicinal purposes.

Whilst there is such a wide variety of opinion, it cannot be possible to arrive at a conclusion as to whether or not the State should execute those accused of misuse.
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by Ivan on Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:26 pm

In 2014, Saudi Arabia carried out more executions – many of them for non-violent offences - than any other country in the world apart from China and Iran. In 2015, it executed at least 150 people, but probably slipped to fourth place after Pakistan rediscovered its taste for judicial murder with over 300 hangings. Saudi Arabia  has now started 2016 with 47 beheadings in one day. Yet the UK's Tory government has left that country off its list of thirty nations which are to be challenged by diplomats over their continued use of the death penalty. Barbados, Singapore and Jordan, who between them passed fewer than 10 death sentences in 2014, are on the list. However, we mustn’t do anything that might endanger defence contracts or offend the barbaric friends of the Windsors, one of whom is sick enough to cavort around with swords in a country where they're used to execute people.


Source: Twitter


Source: Twitter

More details here:-
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-told-diplomats-not-to-challenge-saudi-arabia-over-death-penalty-a6796546.html
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by polyglide on Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:10 pm

It is an unfortunate fact that if every country that thought the actions of another country were unacceptable and refused to deal with them then all countries would be isolated.

I doubt very much that at some time everyone has not felt like taking action against another which is far beyond that which would be relevant or fair.

I cannot see any means of addressing all the different actions counted as unlawful in a clear and fitting manner.

The point in question is regarding the death penalty and if any normal person is not sickened after seeing what actually happens up to and at the time of execution, then I doubt that they are human.

At the present time in our country [England] anyone found guilty of murder is usually sentenced to life in prison, this does not mean what it says, many are released withing 15-20 years or so but their victim does not arrise [ that is until God says so].

So for 15-20 years or so we have to feed and tend to a person who has commited murder and then in some instances chance letting them free.

Maybe a better solution would be to convert an issolated island into a simplistic habitat with the only means of survival being if those on it worked to provide for themselves and to ensure no one could escape a gun boat could be on constant patrol which would cost far less that keeping them all in prison.

I doubt very much if in the cold light of day any normal person would be willing to carry out the death penalty and anyone who has seen it carried out I feel would confirm it to be inhuman.

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Re: Judicial killing

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Jan 26, 2016 7:16 pm

"I doubt very much if in the cold light of day any normal person would be willing to carry out the death penalty ...."

That must make it quite difficult to recruit for a national Army.
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by boatlady on Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:12 pm

I have sometimes wondered, as a thought experiment, how I should feel if I were the state executioner (because if we are to have capital punishment we would need an executioner and why not me?)
I have concluded if this was my job, I would very quickly lose the will to live - if someone close to me did the job, I would want to separate from them, and if a child of mine did it I would feel I had failed totally as a parent.
I suspect being paid to kill people in cold blood would destroy a person's soul (if indeed there is such a thing)
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by polyglide on Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:45 am

To be a continual cynic, oftenwrong, adds nothing either to your credentials as an intelligent person or one who wishes to address a subject./
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by polyglide on Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:55 am

It just so happened that a television programme was shown in the last few days and as it was entitled 'Death Row' and as the subject was under discussion I decided to watch it.

The subject was a teen age young man who had shot and killed a police officer.

The circumstances being that he thought the officer was going to shoot him.

He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

As it was a police officer there was a general outcry and more significance given than to the murder of a young girl who had been raped and murdered in the most appalling manner.

The police officer was paid to take chances in protecting the public and would be fully aware of his position and he had received a quick death.

There is no justification for either but I have more sympathy for the young lady.

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Re: Judicial killing

Post by polyglide on Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:08 am

The circumstaces and effects of this particular case brought home to me the fact that there is no winners or losers in attempting to find justice.

The dead policeman had a wife and two young daughters, the latter wanting the death penalty to be carried out to bring closure, however, the facts determined that there could never ever be closure.

All those involved, the relatives and friends of the young man along with the same for the policeman, will all their life have problems of one kind or another, so they all have a life times sentence, the policeman is dead the offender, if the sentence is carried out, will be dead, both not suffering any more.

It was horrific to see the distress for the relatives and friends of the young man leading up to the proposed date of excecution along with the same for those of the policeman, there was no winners or losers just a number of people in distress at an unwanted situation.

I defy anyone to come up with a satifactory solution to dealing with
murder but I feel carrying out a legal one is no an option.

regards.
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by bobby on Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:32 pm

The answer to finding an executioner really wouldn't be so difficult, there are people in Syria who in exchange for a council house would quite happily hang several criminals without even blinking.
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by boatlady on Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:15 am

But would we want such people, with such an occupation, living among us?

And would their wives and children find any acceptance in the communities they lived in?

Would you want a night down the pub with the state executioner?
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Re: Judicial killing

Post by polyglide on Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:33 am

I feel nothing but dispair for the future of mankind, irrespective of where you look there are potential problems of mans own making in almost every aspect of life.

It is obvious that one cannot compare warfare in which there are rules of engagement with cold blooded murder but the results are the same.

I cannot believe that anyone who is of a reasonable intelligence and with any natural feelings of justice would take up a position that involved killing a tied up trussed up individual, irrespective of any other circumstances, it is barbaric.
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Re: Judicial killing

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