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"The Texas conveyor belt of death rolls on.
May 20, 2002 1:16 PM   Subscribe

"The Texas conveyor belt of death rolls on. Against international law, three Texas inmates face imminent execution for murders committed when they were children. Since 1998, Texas has killed five child offenders - people who were under 18 at the time of the crimes. If Napoleon Beazley, TJ Jones and Toronto Patterson are put to death on 28 May, 8 August, and 28 August respectively, Texas will have executed as many child offenders in a four-month period as Iran, the next worst perpetrator outside the USA, has carried out in the whole of the past decade."

Ha! Yet another area where them loser Axis of Evil® fellas ain't up to the standards of the good ol' U.$. of A.
posted by fold_and_mutilate (124 comments total)

 
Jeffrey Williams is scheduled for execution on 26 June. There is evidence that he was suffering from mental illness at the time of the crime, when he was apparently on a combination of alcohol and anti-psychotic medication. In the case of Monty Delk, executed on 28 February despite years of serious doubts about his sanity, the state claimed that he was faking his mental illness. If so, he maintained his act to the very end. Strapped down for lethal injection, he announced that he was the prison warden and demanded: ''Get your warden off this gurney and shut up''.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:18 PM on May 20, 2002


Blah blah psychotic blah blah meds blah blah alcohol. I don't kill people. Do you kill people? I think they killed people. If only it were that simple.
posted by gleemax at 1:31 PM on May 20, 2002


I do not approve of the death penalty. I do not approve of the way Texas manages its "justice system." But a state within the United States is not subject to "international law." If this were the case, what can one say about the death penalty in many other nations?
posted by Postroad at 1:32 PM on May 20, 2002


Lets not forget to mention their crimes:
Napoleon Beazley: As John Luttig drove into their garage, Napoleon darted up the Luttigs' winding driveway, his pistol drawn. Fig Coleman strode behind him, holding a sawed-off shotgun, while Cedrick waited in the car. No doubt John Luttig would have peacefully handed over the keys to his Mercedes, but he never had the chance. As he stepped out of the car, Bobbie heard him utter one word—"No!"—and then saw the flash of a gun muzzle. John Luttig fell to his knees, struck by a bullet that had grazed his head. Napoleon then fired at Bobbie. Though the shot missed its mark, she sank, terror-stricken, to the garage floor and played dead, her face pressed against the oil-stained cement. Her husband was still alive, kneeling beside the car in shock. Napoleon leaned over the bleeding man and pulled the trigger again. Bobbie kept still, her eyes shut, as her husband's blood coursed down the driveway. Only after the Mercedes skidded away did she dare move, racing to a neighbor's house and telling the 911 dispatcher, "My husband has been shot. Please hurry!"
posted by schlyer at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2002


I can't speak to the other cases, but in the case of Napolean Beazley, he may have been under the age of 18, but just barely. There is no question about his sanity; he was a good student, president of the student body, and an athlete.

But, he also chose to put a gun to the head of an elderly man and shoot him dead, in front of his wife...whom he also tried to kill, all so he could steal a mercedes and take a 3 block joy ride.

He has never claimed to be innocent. Nobody who's trying to get him off has claimed he's innocent. At 17, he was fully aware that shooting a bullet into John Luttig's brain was going to kill him. He's never expressed remorse.

He broke the law. He killed a man. Now, we, the state, will make him pay the consequences of that act. In Texas, it's pretty well understood that if you kill someone, odds are that you'll get the death penalty. It's not like that's a surprise to anyone here. Heck, we'll even kill some crazy people. (The rest we just elect.)

But the facts are: He knew what he was doing, he was old enough to know better, he killed John Luttig and tried to kill Mrs. Luttig...while in the act of robbing him and stealing his car. There is nothing in this case that suggests to me that as a taxpayer, I should support this murderous crack dealer for the next 50+ years. The boy is broken, return him to the manufacturer.

Which is not to say that I wholeheartedly support the death penalty. But in this particular case, you bet I do.
posted by dejah420 at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2002


Mexican national Javier Medina is scheduled for execution on 14 August despite not having been informed of his right upon arrest to seek consular assistance, and despite last year's International Court of Justice ruling that the US was in breach of its international obligations on this issue.

That international enough, or is Mexico different?
posted by bittennails at 1:44 PM on May 20, 2002


Toronto Patterson:

17-year-old Dallas man killed his cousin's 3-year-old daughter for three chrome and gold wheels. The court voted 9-0 to reject the appeal of Toronto Markkey Patterson, who had argued there wasn't evidence to convict him for Ollie Brewer's June 6, 1995 death. According to court records, Kimberly Brewer was found dead from gunshot wounds in her den, and her daughters - 6-year-old Jennifer and Ollie - had been slain in the room which they shared. The only things missing from the house were 3 chrome and gold car wheels from Ms. Brewer's brother's BMW, which was parked in the garage. Patterson had visited his cousin, Ms. Brewer, and had returned to his girlfriend's house in a panic saying he just stole 3 wheels, documents showed. Patterson, in a written confession, stated that he killed all 3, adding that he walked into the children's room and fired twice with his eyes closed. The courts ruled that the evidence - including the facts that Ms. Brewer and Kimberly were killed in relaxed positions as though by someone they trusted and that Patterson was known to like fancy wheels - was sufficient. He was tried only on charges of killing the 3-year-old. Because the girl was under 6, Patterson was found guilty of a capital offense.
posted by schlyer at 1:47 PM on May 20, 2002


That ruling involved the case of two German brothers denied their consular rights and executed in Arizona in 1999. Texas has executed five foreign nationals since 1993; each was denied his consular rights in violation of international law.

Hmmm, that's weird...guess it isn't different.
posted by bittennails at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2002


(off -topic)

foldy- Is it possible for you to post something without the sneering, sarcastic tone? I know this subject is probably impossible to discuss here without slipping into a deep, dark tunnel of invective, but you could have at least tried to set it up in a more level-headed manner. I understand you have strong feelings about certain subjects, but your knee-jerk anti-Americanism does nothing to encourage rational debate about an important subject. It's pretty obvious you are a smart and concerned fellow, but you shoot yourself and your causes in the foot by consistently appearing to be nothing more than a bitter, attention-starved troll.
posted by evanizer at 1:50 PM on May 20, 2002


Thank you f&m, now I have something to celebrate today- the immediate prospect of the removal of three people from this world who richly deserve aforesaid removal- and whose absence will make the world a better place.
posted by dissent at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2002


Feh, everyone knows when children murder you, you are not really dead! You can they execute these people when there is no victim?
posted by thirteen at 2:00 PM on May 20, 2002


It's knee-jerk to label one as anti-American for voicing concerns. So, if one is concerned and yes, extremely outspoken about the double standard America reserves for itself he is then anti-American? Posting this is a case in point that he is obviously not anti-American, rather concerned about America. Most of America, it seems, is more interested in pointing out who they think is or isn't American enough.

And on preview.

Dissent: the problem with the death penalty is that it unfairly, indeed inhumanely, targets poor and minority perpetrators of crimes. This does not exonerate the criminal necessarily, but it does point out that there is little fairness in justice when one is brown and/or poor.
posted by crasspastor at 2:00 PM on May 20, 2002


evanizer, I've learned that there's no point in asking f_and_m a question about his posts. As someone funnier than me once said: "It's not like he ever responds after dropping one of his little turds in these threads" (of course, in this case, the turd is the sneering sloganeering of the main post itself).

And bittennails, I think the point is that there can be no "violation" of a "law" that the U.S. is under no legal obligation to follow. It's like you saying: "I have a bittennails law prohibiting wearing boxer shorts." If you have no jurisdiction over me, there should be no significance to my "violation" of your "law."

and just so y'all know, I'm anti-death penalty and particularly anti-Texas justice. But half-assed arguments are still half-assed arguments, and need to be pointed out as such.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:16 PM on May 20, 2002


Crasspastor: Then let's address the problem by increasing the numbers of non-minorities executed.

Plus, I would remark: is it not the case that the poor and minorities commit disproportionate amounts of violent crime?

I will not weep at inhumanity applied to those who have killed innocents.
posted by dissent at 2:18 PM on May 20, 2002


Say, crasspastor, if I made a front-page post discussing, say, the hypocrisy of the Saudi Arabian government, then appended a sarcastic remark about 'dem dere camel jockeys', would I be:
a) trolling
b) extremely outspoken
posted by darukaru at 2:18 PM on May 20, 2002


TJ Jones:

Convicted in the robbery and murder of 75 year old Willard Lewis Davis of Longview. Jones and 3 accomplices pulled Davis from his vehicle as he was backing out of the driveway from his home in an attempt to rob him. When Davis resisted, Jones shot him once in the head with a .357 magnum pistol. Leaving his body in the roadway, the four bandits fled in Davis' vehicle. They were arrested a short time later after wrecking the car. All gave written confessions to the police.
posted by schlyer at 2:18 PM on May 20, 2002


Whenever anyone mentions international law, I try not to laugh.

But I always do.

International law: like trying to get the WWF to follow George Washington's Rules of Civility.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:21 PM on May 20, 2002


Maybe we should get Whitney Lee Reeves off of death row also. Afterall, he had the smarts to do his crime the day before his 18th birthday:

On 8/20/1999, Reeves and one co-defendant shot and killed a 14 year old white female and her father, a 40 year old white male, with a 12 gauge shotgun. The double homicide occurred at the victims' apartment in Beaumont. The apparent motive for the shooting was that the 14 year old girl had testified at a grand jury hearing that resulted in charges of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child against the co-defendant.

If the criminal justice system wants to try them as adults, then they should be punished like adults. There is no logic in treating someone who is 1 day short of their 18th birthday diffently than someone who is 1 day past it.

The definition of an adult as an 18 year old is arbitrary. Courts have recognized this and now make an independent determination of whether an individual falls into the juvi/adult category. The fact that 'international law' fails to recognize this is part of the reason international law is widely ignored.
posted by schlyer at 2:24 PM on May 20, 2002


They may not be adults according to Texas state law, but these three individuals are NOT children. Call them underage offenders, but calling them children is just inflammatory.

I agree with crasspastor - I don't like the way that the death penalty seems to be related to economic status. But we should be more concerned about all the cases where real children are abused and in danger. These are the children that truly deserve our attention.
posted by groundhog at 2:26 PM on May 20, 2002


pardonyou: I don't quite understand your point, I'm no lawyer, but don't foreign nationals have a right to consular rights, or heck even access. I am a foreigner living here, if arrested (does why matter?), should I be unable to contact my embassy. That was what I was pointing out, could you clarify your point for me?
posted by bittennails at 2:27 PM on May 20, 2002


insomnyuk: pray you never get arrested abroad.
posted by bittennails at 2:33 PM on May 20, 2002


Does Texas' death penalty actually work as a deterrent? I mean, do people kill less in Texas because of reguarly-exercised death penalty?
posted by luriete at 2:42 PM on May 20, 2002


There is nothing in this case that suggests to me that as a taxpayer, I should support this murderous crack dealer for the next 50+ years.

As a fellow Texas taxpayer, I respectfully suggest you avoid this particular argument. The Dallas Morning News published a study several years ago about Texas capital trials costing us about three times as much as imprisoning someone for life. (Found a link to the article, but they charge for it. Must be part of the Morning News's nefarious scheme to ban deep linking.)
posted by delapohl at 2:42 PM on May 20, 2002


bittenails: Pray none of us ever commits a capital offense... here or in any other country.
posted by dissent at 2:43 PM on May 20, 2002


Luriete- It sure deters the murderer.
posted by dissent at 2:43 PM on May 20, 2002


bittennails: Yes. That'll be the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. And yes, there's very little way to enforce it in the USA, but I suspect that if US nationals were denied consular rights under foreign custody, the states responsible would be added to the Axis of Evil sooner than you could say 'unilateralist'.
posted by riviera at 2:45 PM on May 20, 2002


Does Texas' death penalty actually work as a deterrent? I mean, do people kill less in Texas because of reguarly-exercised death penalty?

Luriete- It sure deters the murderer.


Especially when the murderer is innocent.
posted by BlueTrain at 2:49 PM on May 20, 2002


Ha, that was funny, riviera. On your side, on that one, dissent, all my prayers, don't kill anyone.
posted by bittennails at 2:54 PM on May 20, 2002


It sure deters the murderer.

Exactly wrong. In each case the murderer, whether the accused or someone else, knew there was the death penalty as a possible punishment and still committed the murder.
posted by liam at 2:54 PM on May 20, 2002


How many truly innocent are killed, BlueTrain?

I would be curious- even when wrongful conviction occurs [and are you contending that in any of these cases...?], how many of those have not commited another, unpunished murder, or a long string of violent crimes...
posted by dissent at 2:57 PM on May 20, 2002


Liam- exactly right. Zero murderers kill again after having the death penalty applied.

Too quick, and too little thought applied there, I'm afraid.
posted by dissent at 3:02 PM on May 20, 2002


schyler:

There is no logic in treating someone who is 1 day short of their 18th birthday diffently than someone who is 1 day past it... The definition of an adult as an 18 year old is arbitrary. Courts have recognized this and now make an independent determination of whether an individual falls into the juvi/adult category. The fact that 'international law' fails to recognize this is part of the reason international law is widely ignored.

Obviously, Texas law suffers from the same fallacious reasoning as 'international law', just setting the marker a little lower:

~ (c) No person may, in any case, be punished by death for an offense committed while he was younger than 17 years

Should the Texas penal code be 'widely ignored' for its arbitrary and illogical belief that someone can avoid the death penalty as long as he's at least one day short of 17? (Well, thankfully, it is, outside of Texas.)
posted by riviera at 3:03 PM on May 20, 2002


how many of those have not commited another, unpunished murder, or a long string of violent crimes...

Agreed, agreed. As a matter of fact, why not just execute anybody, you know, who kinda looks suspicious, just in case, hmm?
posted by signal at 3:04 PM on May 20, 2002


How many truly innocent are killed, BlueTrain?
how many innocent are truly killed, dissent? why did you use the word 'truly'? do you mean, for example, if one has not committed the crime for which he is sentenced to death, but has committed a bunch of other crimes, it would still be ok to put him to death?
posted by quonsar at 3:09 PM on May 20, 2002


Not the intent signal, I'm just asking how many of those bemoaned as falsely convicted and unjustly executed... were actually worth bemoaning.
posted by dissent at 3:10 PM on May 20, 2002


Yes, quonsar, I mean precisely that.
posted by dissent at 3:11 PM on May 20, 2002


Zero murderers kill again after having the death penalty applied.

It sure deters the murderer.


Of course, this is a complete redefinition of the term "deterrence" as used by death penalty proponents. But I guess that's what you have to do when your claims about the efficacy of the death penalty turn out to be bollocks.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:12 PM on May 20, 2002


Ty Webb-
No, it's how we have to stare down lily-livered weaklings who've lost the willpower to resist and destroy that which is evil, and which threatens us all. It's how we look sheep in the eye and tell them that as spineless as they may be, some of us will insist that those who are evil be treated in the manner that evil demands and deserves.
posted by dissent at 3:17 PM on May 20, 2002


i read an article, and i cannot find it now, (perhaps linked on metafilter?) that "guesstimated" how many innocent are killed by the death penalty. it focused on one midwest state (i forget which) and counted the number of people on death row that were released after being proven innocent by dna, confessions or other means. they then compared that to the total number of people on death row in the state, and computed it against the total number of exections in the state. i remember the number they came up with - for the total history of "official" death row executions was 65. i want to say the state was ohio, but i'm not sure. but basically, in that one state since the beginning of the death penalty there, they estimated 65 innocent people had been killed, based on statistical probabilities.
posted by centrs at 3:19 PM on May 20, 2002


The death penalty is a waste of valuable research subjects.
E.g., does Nutrasweet really cause cancer? Why could we not spare one of these fellows lives and give him a quotidian injection of the equivalent of 4000 diet cokes a day to really find out?
Innocent non-human primates should not be used for research when convicted human murderers are available.
posted by quercus at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2002


it's how we have to stare down lily-livered weaklings who've lost the willpower to resist and destroy that which is evil, and which threatens us all. It's how we look sheep in the eye and tell them that as spineless as they may be, some of us will insist that those who are evil be treated in the manner that evil demands and deserves.

Feel the power...of DISSENT! Seriously, though, that bunch of self-righteous, self-indulgent tripe could've been written by any zealot in the world, al Quaeda, Zionist, IRA, take your pick. Congratulations, and be sure to wipe that foam off your mouth before going out.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:24 PM on May 20, 2002


Forget that, signal. I say we just kill, well, everyone. It's unfortunate that a few innocents must die, but that sure would be a strong deterrent to the criminals among us. No human would commit any crime again.

It's pretty easy to poke fun at the concept of "international law," but the fact is that America puts more people under the age of 18 to death than any other country in the world. A lot more.
posted by Eamon at 3:28 PM on May 20, 2002


No.
I don't advocate killing the relatives of killers, nor do I advocate killing innocents to get at killers, nor do I advocate killing innocents.

Ty Webb, you and your kind falsely seek to label as extremist those who simply seek to protect themselves and the ones they care about... by whatever means necessary.

You're the self-righteous, etc. one. And you leech off of those with enough guts to keep the civilizied world safe.

Congratulations to you, parasite.
posted by dissent at 3:28 PM on May 20, 2002


Liam- exactly right. Zero murderers kill again after having the death penalty applied.

Too quick, and too little thought applied there, I'm afraid.



dissent, by your definition of deterrence, locking up murderers in solitary for life is also a deterrent, but capital punishment proponents don't seem to consider it one. I understood your incisive wit, but enjoyed watching it backfire.
posted by liam at 3:31 PM on May 20, 2002


old enough to kill old enough to die.

as for punishing the murderers, i think they should have to eat their victims... even if they somehow get VERY good at killing, eventually they'll get too massive to move very fast, and only the slow ones can get taken down by them.
posted by jcterminal at 3:33 PM on May 20, 2002


I am most definitely against the death penalty, but find as I get older I am rapidly losing sympathy for those who commit the types of crimes described here. If the death penalty is so effective as a deterrent, how come it is still needed so regularly?
I wouldn't want to meet Dissent on a dark night.
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:34 PM on May 20, 2002


Yes, liam, locking them up is a deterrent, but it's not sufficient punishment. Let's not forget the punishment part of capital punishment.

My wit did not backfire; I simply did not elaborate.

I advocate killing killers as punishment. Deterrence is also a primary goal. Also achieved.
posted by dissent at 3:35 PM on May 20, 2002


Delapohl, I stand corrected on the cost issue. Valid point you make, valid point indeed.
posted by dejah420 at 3:39 PM on May 20, 2002


Whether or not it is right to put adolescents to death for capital crimes is one question; whether it is right to put anyone to death is another. Whether there is any such thing as "international law" which supersedes the sovereign constitutional principles of these United States is a joke. There is no court to enforce this law; no nation would have standing. No, not even in the new International Criminal Court.

International "law" is simply the system of treaties, multilateral but mostly bilateral, by which nations agree to interact. Almost to the last detail, the extant international law recognizes each participating nation's sovereignty over internal matters.

That Amnesty is pretending otherwise does not reflect well on Amnesty. Fools.
posted by dhartung at 3:40 PM on May 20, 2002


Buddha-
Oddly enough, I don't carry a gun [although I do own a shotgun], nor have I ever been in a physical fight since the age of... hmmm... probably 20 or so (about 15 years). I would walk from trouble... unless someone else was being attacked... in which case, I'd feel obligated to help.

I do have a bloodthirsty view- but not one that has illegitimate targets. I do demand the state cull killers from its midst, and extract just retribution. I *would* kill if absolutely necessary.

But my focus is on avoiding that necessity. Removal of the unjustly violent from our ranks helps achieve that goal.
posted by dissent at 3:42 PM on May 20, 2002


...Against international law....execution for murders committed when they were children*...as many child offenders in a four-month period as Iran, the next worst perpetrator outside the USA, has carried out in the whole of the past decade....despite last year's International Court of Justice ruling that the US was in breach of its international obligations on this issue... Texas has executed five foreign nationals since 1993; each was denied his consular rights in violation of international law.

Pardonyou, insomnyuk, postroad, schlyer, dissent: Can any of you answer these, please?
1. do people kill less in Texas because of reguarly-exercised death penalty? [citation]
2. Manslaughter is unintentional, should that get the death penalty?
3. Any exceptions (to capital punishment) at all? i.e., provocation, where the victim of spousal abuse over an extended period of time, reacts in anger, or self-defence, by stabbing partner sleeping off their drug-induced haze?
4. dissent: This bunch of other crimes, does it matter what they are? what gravity? whether the authorities had evidence (then why didn't they prosecute before?) What does 'Bill of Rights', 'constitutional', or 'tyrannical' mean to you?
5. Postroad: "..But a state within the United States is not subject to "international law."..." WHY? This is what europeans mean when they accuse the US of unilateralism. Can any sub-division of a federal state, say, Quebec, or Catalonia, do the same? Disregard for civilised standards of justice and jurisprudence, for international law and freely entered into agreements [Kyoto/International Criminal Court, etc], makes Texas**, and by reflection, the US, look out on a limb. [Yes, I know the US did not sign up to the ICC - but convention says that when a quorum of states DO ratify, it is binding on all others. However, the US did sign up to Kyoto, did they not?]
6. dejah420: **In Texas, it's pretty well understood that if you kill someone, odds are that you'll get the death penalty.
dissent: Zero murderers kill again after having the death penalty applied. - Also, zero young offenders/ innocently convicted people kill after having the death penalty applied. Can you live with that on your [christian/muslim/jewish/buddhist -hang it, human] conscience?dejah420

* And can you redefine 'children' for me, preferably a definition that also holds true for Texas, for all lawbreaking, and which will apply for 'consent' & morality issues, too?



posted by dash_slot- at 3:48 PM on May 20, 2002


In a 4-month period? Wow, if we're going to pick and choose our time periods like that....gah, another example of statistics-skewing to make a moot point.
posted by Mach3avelli at 3:48 PM on May 20, 2002


Ty Webb, you and your kind falsely seek to label as extremist those who simply seek to protect themselves and the ones they care about... by whatever means necessary.

My kind? I'm sure you've invented quite a straw-liberal in your head, and are currently wacking away in a frenzy. Impressive!

As it happens, I'm not against the death penalty. I'm just against justifying it with false claims of deterrence, and, when those claims are revealed to be false (about which, I notice, you have nothing to say) attempts to recast the debate through such abject mealy-mouthery as "Zero murderers kill again after having the death penalty applied."

And you leech off of those with enough guts to keep the civilizied world safe.

Just for laughs, who would those gutsy people be? You? Are you fighting the good fight from there behind your keyboard? Boy, I sure feel safer.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:48 PM on May 20, 2002


But my focus is on avoiding that necessity. Removal of the unjustly violent from our ranks helps achieve that goal.

So would removal of the very angry, and it might help deter anger in others.
posted by liam at 3:54 PM on May 20, 2002


Removal of the unjustly violent from our ranks helps achieve that goal.

I'm not a fan of revenge, as it does no benefit for mankind. "An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind."

I have little sympathy for cold-blooded kilers, but killing people is no way to teach that killing is wrong. Putting people permanently in prison, for life, acheives the same benefits that death penalty supporters cite. It removes the bad seeds from society, permanently. It also does it cheaper than putting people to death (many studies show this). Not killing people also prevents us from making yet another capital mistake, taking the life of someone that didn't commit the crime (there are at least a dozen well-supported cases where the innocent person was executed). It doesn't decrease the deterrent to murder, as killing convicted killers has no effect on murder rates, so that's not a problem either.

It is a just punishment, those that commit the crimes are removed from public life and we are safer for them having been put away, and as long as they are kept in for life, we don't have to worry about them endangering anyone again.
posted by mathowie at 3:57 PM on May 20, 2002


Punishment? What's the point? Punitive action just seems childish and utterly illogical. Deterrence and the protection of the public is the only point, as far as I can see, and as far as that goes, life in prison without the possibility of parole is far more useful than capital punishment, isn't it? Or am I missing something? At least that way, the execution of people who are later found to be innocent is a non-issue; you can always release them if innocence is proven. Kills two birds with one stone. The whole eye-for-an-eye thing seems a little silly. The death penalty is the easy way out - how does the culture as a whole benefit from institutionalized murder? I just don't see it. Maybe I am just not getting a crucial part of the argument here.
posted by luriete at 4:01 PM on May 20, 2002


From a brief google, it looks as if the question of what 'international law' means, within the context of US jurisdiction, remains a matter of opinion. At least, some in the Supreme Court thinks there can no longer be a Chinese wall between domestic and international precedents.
posted by riviera at 4:02 PM on May 20, 2002


...by your definition of deterrence, locking up murderers in solitary for life is also a deterrent, but capital punishment proponents don't seem to consider it one. I understood your incisive wit, but enjoyed watching it backfire.

Locking up murder's for life DOES NOT guarantee they won't kill again - unless you don't count the prison guards that have to come in harms way everyday dealing with these people.
posted by schlyer at 4:21 PM on May 20, 2002


"do people kill less in Texas because of reguarly-exercised death penalty?"

In 1991, the per-capita murder rate in Texas was 15.3 per 100,000. (source) There were five executions that year. (source)

Using the same sources, it's clear that the number of murders per capita in Texas has declined every year since 1991, while the number of executions has risen, with the exception of 1996.

As those sources also show, the least number of murders per capita in Texas (5.9 per 100,000) occurred in 2000, which is also the year of the greatest number of executions (40).

It's not necessarily proof of deterrence, just some interesting data.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:34 PM on May 20, 2002


You're the self-righteous, etc. one. And you leech off of those with enough guts to keep the civilizied world safe.

Gee, you're right! Just look at the mideast - killing people that killed people sure is solving all the Israeli/Palestinian problems, isn't it? It just gets more safe and civilized with every punishing, revenge-taking killing. Someone just better do something about all those self-righteous "peace talks" leeches. Maybe they should get the death penalty as well for trying to make the civilized world so dangerously safe... er... something...
posted by badstone at 4:34 PM on May 20, 2002


I am neither a fan of Texas style death penalties, nor of the manner in which it is defended (if it can be called a defense) in this forum.

But I just wanted to point out that there may be circumstances in which it is safer, healthier and much less painful for society to impose the death penalty than to impose life imprisonment. What do you think will happen if you guys get hold of Bin Laden and send him to prison for life?

I also believe that all nations ignore international laws from time to time when those laws are not aligned with their values / laws / interests. US happens to be brash and in-your-face about it. It has a strong isolationist faction that seemingly likes to outrage the rest. But that aside, all states are governed by self interest, not moral principles. Otherwise, trade wars won't break out from time to time between USA and Europe.

Having said that, not being given consular access is such a scary concept! You dont have to be guilty to be arrested wrongfully as the history of death penalty in USA shows ....
posted by justlooking at 4:35 PM on May 20, 2002


Yes, liam, locking them up is a deterrent, but it's not sufficient punishment. Let's not forget the punishment part of capital punishment.

dissent, it's certainly a choice I hope I'm never faced with, but if I'm looking at the rest of my natural life in a maximum security prison or taking my chances on the "other side" - I'm pulling for the injection....Your definition of "punishment" is opinion. I'm curious as to what your exchange rate is: how many innocent people executed make it "worth" having a death penalty? Not even one for me.

Those convicted of capital crimes should be put into facilities with minimal amenities (a room, perhaps a cot, and food, no recreation, etc.) and left to rot (and perhaps freed if exonerated), but not to be killed by the state. You've every right to sputter your opinion on my sheep-like nature and lack of guts, but to me the gutless ones are those who cry mindlessly for vengeance whatever the cost.
posted by jalexei at 4:37 PM on May 20, 2002


Lots of people come in harm's way as part of their daily routine, like policemen, firemen, medical people, or postal workers duing an anthrax scare. Maybe we learned something about looking down our noses at folks who put themselves on the line, and maybe we're starting to realize that some sorrows are not solved by money, revenge, or turning people into martyrs. Count me among the ranks of those who don't want the government to apply the death penalty in civilian criminal cases, no matter how abhorrent.

We all get the death penalty in the end, don't we?
posted by sheauga at 4:37 PM on May 20, 2002


68 percent of death sentences are overturned on appeal due to findings of serious prejudicial error in either the guilt or the sentencing phase of the original trial.

most of the reversals are by elected state judges who have political incentives to uphold death sentences whenever possible.

regardless of your views on the death penality, it is simply irresponsble to continue executing people without major reform of the system. providing capital defendents with halfway decent counsel instead of underpaid, undermotivated and largely incompetant public defedenders would be a good start.
posted by boltman at 4:45 PM on May 20, 2002


It's threads like these that make me glad that I know of no Toronto Metafilter gathering...
posted by websavvy at 4:46 PM on May 20, 2002


I do recommend checking out the April 19, 2002 episode of This American Life. (Perfect Evidence - episode 210). You can listen to it on RealAudio. It tells two heartwarming stories about how cops manufacture "criminals" for slaughter to keep folks like dissent happy and in love with the American sheep/leech killing machine. However, now that dirty DNA testing trick is starting to spoil all the nice tidy fun, though.
posted by badstone at 4:59 PM on May 20, 2002


International "law" is simply the system of treaties, multilateral but mostly bilateral, by which nations agree to interact. Almost to the last detail, the extant international law recognizes each participating nation's sovereignty over internal matters.

That Amnesty is pretending otherwise does not reflect well on Amnesty. Fools.


Amnesty is not a nation. It does not seek to extend any kind of "sovereignty", or impinge on anybody else's. It does not sign agreements with nations.

It is a group of people who seek to secure human rigts for all people, regardless of race, sex, money, etc. Human rights. For everybody. By everybody.

It does so by appeals to public opinion. By making it known what is being done by who to whom. Regardless of their economic or military power. Regardless of whether they are "Western" or not. "Civilized" or not. Rich or not.

Fools.
posted by signal at 5:08 PM on May 20, 2002


Sliding waaaay back to the beginning of the thread:
Dissent: the problem with the death penalty is that it unfairly, indeed inhumanely, targets poor and minority perpetrators of crimes. This does not exonerate the criminal necessarily, but it does point out that there is little fairness in justice when one is brown and/or poor.

Do we have any evidence that any of these "child murderers" in f_&_m's post were "targetted" because they were poor or minority? Or were they all sentenced to death because of the exceptional violence and wasteful brutality of their crimes -- all of which were committed in cold blood solely to further acts of theft?

Punishment? What's the point? Punitive action just seems childish and utterly illogical.

The "point" of punishment is exactly that -- to subject someone, in this case, a murderer, to a negative consequence for their crime, in this case, the taking of an innocent life. Locking them up is punishment, taking their lives is a heightened level of punishment, but anything short of setting them free with impunity to do whatever they like is going to be punishment. I don't think you honestly believe that it is childish and utterly illogical to mete some negative response upon someone who takes a life, do you?

regardless of your views on the death penality, it is simply irresponsble to continue executing people without major reform of the system.

Inability to capitalise aside, I agree with boltman to an extent -- there are some cases in which there is no question of guilt, and I have no qualms about those murderers being put to death. But an overhaul and a review of extant cases is called for. Ohio has done this, as has Illinois, it would behoove the remainder of the DP states to do likewise.
posted by Dreama at 5:17 PM on May 20, 2002


Wow. There are a whole host of issues here.

First: Why do we have a criminal justice system at all? Surely, it is to protect society. If we punish people for transgressing the law, we achieve maximum compliance of the law. Logically, if follows that there are only two points to a criminal justice system: deterrence and removing trangressors from society. What some people call "justice", I call "revenge", and I don't believe it's a valid part of a justice system. Revenge does not protect a society, so it is irrelevent when we come to discuss the whole point of having a justice system in the first place. I've never seen any evidence that the death penalty is a deterrence when it comes to commiting the crime, and a murderer can just as easily be removed from society through life in jail without parole. Thus, there is no moral justification for the death penalty.

Second: Why do we have this concept of children/adults? It is because we accept that children are not mature enough to take full responsibility for their actions. Why else are there age limits on when you can buy alcohol, when you can buy cigarettes, when you can vote, when you can get married, when you can have sex, when you can serve in the military? In the UK, the age of consent is 16. So, if you have sex with a girl who is 15 years 364 days, you have committed a sex crime. The law doesn't allow for discretion. By any definition, if you are under 18 years old in the States, you are not an adult. Why on earth should the criminal justice system be different?

Third: Executions in Illinois were halted when a class of students at Northwestern University were able to prove that 5 inmates on death row were indisputably innocent. Students! That should set alarm bells ringing about America's criminal justice system. Public defenders simply do not have either the time or funding (and sadly in many cases, the inclination) to properly defend their client. It's no wonder so many poor people and minorities end up on death row - these are the very people who cannot afford to hire a proper lawyer. If there were 5 innocent people in Illinois, how many are there in the whole country?

Fourth: America is subject to international law, whether it likes it or not. That's the whole point about international law, to step in when domestic law has failed. America is very keen to step in and use international law when it suits it - for example, in the handing over of the Libyan suspects of the Lockerbie bombing. True, there's no way international law can really be upheld, but that's another story.

Fifth: The only countries that execute minors, apart from the States, are Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Is this the sort of company the USA wants to keep?

It scares me that there are so many people on MeFi who actually support the execution of minors. It is wrong on just so many levels, that words can't really convey my disgust and revulsion.
posted by salmacis at 5:27 PM on May 20, 2002


Answering ones not specifically addressed to others:

1. do people kill less in Texas because of reguarly-exercised death penalty? [citation]

I don't care. It is sufficient to achieve punishment alone.
The deterrence of others from murder is a possible positive result; it is not necessary to ensure my support of the death penalty. The deterrence of the murderer from future harm is assured.

2. Manslaughter is unintentional, should that get the death penalty?
Probably not. The situations would have to be weighed, case to case. I'd advocate it for a three-time repeat drunk driver who commits vehicular manslaughter, for instance [although... I'm not sure they should be charged with manslaughter]. But for someone who hit someone in anger, with no intent to kill, and got unlucky... no.

3. Any exceptions (to capital punishment) at all? i.e., provocation, where the victim of spousal abuse over an extended period of time, reacts in anger, or self-defence, by stabbing partner sleeping off their drug-induced haze?

Absolutely! I would not even vote to *convict* in your stated case. {Given reasonable proof}

All circumstances must and should be weighed.

External circumstances, that is. I make no allowances for drug/alcohol use, or mental illness.


4. dissent: This bunch of other crimes, does it matter what they are? what gravity? whether the authorities had evidence (then why didn't they prosecute before?) What does 'Bill of Rights', 'constitutional', or 'tyrannical' mean to you?

Yes. Their nature and number does matter. Burglary wouldn't make it right, for instance. Assault alone wouldn't. Rape just might.

As to definitions- perfect definitions don't reflect what actually happens in the world. "Tyrannical", though... hmmm... I'd say the murderer openened that can when they exercised tyrannical power over their victim.

6. dissent: Zero murderers kill again after having the death penalty applied. - Also, zero young offenders/ innocently convicted people kill after having the death penalty applied. Can you live with that on your [christian/muslim/jewish/buddhist -hang it, human] conscience?

Yes.

Actually the *worst* part of a innocent being convicted is that the guilty party remains free to harm. Whereas one innocent dies as a result of false conviction... many may die from the uncaught murderer's future actions.

I don't take false conviction lightly... I just don't believe it's meted out except in the rarest circumstances to anything else other than the dregs of humanity.
posted by dissent at 5:46 PM on May 20, 2002


I am tired of these arguments based on arbitrary age delineations. I don't think =anybody= should be executed, for the simple fact that one can't say "Oops, we got the wrong guy" and right the wrong in such a case. The only case in which I could see that execution would do good would be for a person so nefarious that they could escape from any prison and go on killing sprees all over the country.... for some reason, I don't think such a person exists. But perhaps I'm naive.

I am currently serving on a jury in New York City for a criminal case (not a capital case, of course... there's very few of those, and they'd never let =me= on such a jury) - I am pleasantly surprised by the competence of =both= the lawyers, as I've heard horrible stories. But still, I can easily see where mistakes can be made. At least in the case I'm trying, the sentence could not be more than a year or two and the crime isn't horribly serious, and if we screw up, there won't be too many bad repercussions either way.

Sitting in trial, I do have to wonder about the people who are on the juries in capital cases. What kind of person can be =that= sure of their decision?
posted by meep at 5:59 PM on May 20, 2002


Wait, I guess I am answered. I see that utilitarianism is alive and well.
posted by meep at 6:00 PM on May 20, 2002


I don't take false conviction lightly... I just don't believe it's meted out except in the rarest circumstances to anything else other than the dregs of humanity.
So, then the lowest of our people, whether guilty or not, is ok to execute THEM? You are really saying that? Because if mistakes in taking life can be made, they will be [we don't seem to be arguing about that]. And the status of the wronged individual should not matter.

Are you really a believer in the American way? I don't think the most rabid British colonialist from 250 years ago proposed that!
posted by dash_slot- at 6:04 PM on May 20, 2002


We all get the death penalty in the end, don't we?

In some cases, that end needs hastening. In some cases, that hastening can not come soon enough. But then, that's no excuse not to make it as soon as possible.


but to me the gutless ones are those who cry mindlessly for vengeance whatever the cost.

I don't cry for it "whatever the cost". I just don't find the current cost unreasonable.

Just for laughs, who would those gutsy people be? You? Are you fighting the good fight from there behind your keyboard? Boy, I sure feel safer.

No, I'm not fighting. But I'm supporting those who do... and I'm supporting the inalienable human right to self defense.
And I am also saying I reserve the right to kill in my own defense, or in the defense of those I care about, or in the defense of those I perceive as innocent victims of attack.

I'm not particularly gutsy... but I'm damn stubborn. And I insist on punishment for those who have purposely killed the innocent, and I insist that punishment be death.

And why should I care if you feel safe? I don't give a damn about your feelings, and I didn't expect you to feel safe because of me. In fact, you're welcome to *feel* a little unsafe because of me. Just feel.


So would removal of the very angry, and it might help deter anger in others.

And anger is a bad thing... how...?
Anger is rather like a blade... it has both good and bad uses.

Look, if you remove anger from society, I don't think you'll have any society I'd want to be in. No need to *remove* me... I'll be looking elsewhere... probably where the sane poeple who are going to survive have gone. Heh. why not block all pain while you're at it? Who said leprosy was a curse?

Pain happens for a reason. Anger happens for a reason. Address the source.

In my case, the source is evil which needs to be removed.
posted by dissent at 6:06 PM on May 20, 2002


I propose that when a rapist, or a robber who would rob without regard to human life, or generally just a plain bad person dies, I'm not all that upset. I get upset when people I give a damn about get hurt, not when people who who hurt people I give a damn about die.

Would I railroad them? Would I distort evidence? Would I say nothing if I saw these things being done? No.

But am I *outraged* when I find out about it after the fact?
Hmmmm.

No.

Mainly, I'm annoyed that the truth was not arrived at, and that the threat to society is still present, still uncaught, still unpunished.

That's sufficient ground to throw the book at those that fake evidence- they took the easy way out. They made themselves look good. They let a killer go free.

And... oh yeah... some dirtbag got railroaded.

Hold that up against the innocent lives of future victims... and the perversion of law enforcement, getting used to taking the easy way out... and it's not the biggest thing.
posted by dissent at 6:16 PM on May 20, 2002


Dissent, do you give absolutely no credence to the concept that someone who is framed or convicted on circumstantial or falsified evidence may not be a dirtbag at all? It happens, you know. You may need to rethink that whole tack you're taking, there.
posted by Dreama at 6:22 PM on May 20, 2002


It may happen, Dreama.

I dispute that it happens with any great frequency. When it does, usually it's because the killers have managed to get elected, and it's time to clean out a town or a city, and send some killers who used positions of power to kill to justice.

That goes along the the whole "perversion of justice" thing being a worse problem than an essentially bad person getting convicted of the wrong crime. If you let the guardians go bad... innocent people *will* suffer. Maybe not immediately, but the Casablanca thing.

[Translation: abuse of power convicting innocents = totally unacceptable. Honest mistakes convicting innocents = bad but not worth scrapping the death penalty. Bad people being unjustly convicted by railroading = bad because it will lead to the harm of others, who aren't bad. Bad people paying the price for something other than what they did, due to honest mistakes or inefficiency = cosmic justice, as long as the guilty one gets taken down for yet something else]

I believe that more innocents die/are harmed from the garden variety dirtbags than the abuse of power dirtbags though.
posted by dissent at 6:44 PM on May 20, 2002


Oh... and that's also where the weighing of circumstances comes in in sentencing. That would tend to protect people who aren't utterly slimy and repugnant from the death penalty.
posted by dissent at 6:49 PM on May 20, 2002


I believe that more innocents die/are harmed from the garden variety dirtbags than the abuse of power dirtbags though.

Have you no sense of reality or of any history? You really believe that random murders outweigh the other?
posted by bittennails at 6:52 PM on May 20, 2002


Virus invades body, causes infection, starts killing cells.

White blood cells respond by killing the virus. Not containing it, not reforming it. Killing it.

Not certain whether the white blood cells are acting for the purpose of "deterrence", or "revenge", or "retribution". Only know that their rather cold blooded, decidedly non-European, unenlightened attitudes seem to have emerged out of several hundred million years of successful evolution, and seem to successfully keep our bodies alive for decades.

I'm not entirely certain, but there may be a metphor here.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:56 PM on May 20, 2002


If there is, it's strained to the point of needing physiotherapy.
posted by riviera at 7:05 PM on May 20, 2002


I'm not entirely certain, but there may be a metphor here.

you're going to pay to have dissent killed?
posted by mathowie at 7:06 PM on May 20, 2002


the phone ring and...

{kill dissent and there would be no oppositon}

" I...I dont clean chimneys anymore stan"

META-tphor-EDO

divedivedive
posted by clavdivs at 7:35 PM on May 20, 2002


<bad star wars pun du jour>

Metaphors be with us.

</bad>
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:05 PM on May 20, 2002


All in all, this thread turned out pretty well. Good discussions from most everyone, across the spectrum.
posted by evanizer at 8:18 PM on May 20, 2002


I am not well read on dealth penalty or the justice system in USA and dont have the relevant statistics. But I was in Maryland when Washington Post ran its series of expose` on Prince George's county police department. I thought it may be relevant to remind ourselves of that story. I am sure that what happened out there, doesnt happen everywhere. But there would be other places where such abuses still happen. And for anyone to take the stance that mistakes or more importantly abuses are rare and reversible is @#$%.

On police abuses:

" By any measure, Prince George's County police have shot and killed people at rates that exceed those of nearly any other large police force in the nation. Since 1990, they have shot 122 people, killing 47 of them. Almost half of those shot were unarmed, and many had committed no crime. Unlike many departments, Prince George's top police officials concluded that every one of the shootings was justified." (italics mine)

From : Washington Post, July 1, 2001 (Part of a series: The Blue Wall of Silence)

On murder confessions in Prince George's county:

"In four cases, Prince George's homicide detectives took suspects into their interrogation rooms and extracted confessions to murder that later proved false...The four false confessions were made by Longtin; a teenager with learning disabilities who said he stabbed a friend; a high school senior who implicated himself in a triple shooting; and an illiterate janitor who shakily signed a statement a detective wrote for him confessing to slaying a co-worker. The four men were detained in the interrogation room from 11 to more than 38 hours. Three of the four insist that detectives refused to let them speak with a lawyer. And in each case, the suspect's alleged statement was virtually the only evidence homicide detectives used to charge him with murder.....In each case, the man was exonerated only through the intervention of outsiders -- detectives from other units, savvy lawyers and crime lab experts -- and not Prince George's homicide detectives."

From Washingtonpost , June 3, 2001, (Part of a series: False Confessions)
posted by justlooking at 8:41 PM on May 20, 2002


What does 'Bill of Rights', 'constitutional', or 'tyrannical' mean to you?

Interesting that I'm mentioned in a post with this question, when all I was really doing was lazily commenting on the impotency and impracticality of international law.

As for the constitution, well the constitution means whatever you want it to mean, that's what we call 'interpretation', the necessary result in understanding a document of words which mean different things to different people. To the founders, capital punishment was the accepted norm for murderers and rapists. Even with the development of the early prison system, with the intention of reforming people (a Quaker ideal, to begin with), execution was commonplace. It was only in the 1900s that capital punishment began to go out of fashion. So what did the Founders mean by cruel and unusual? My guess is that they are referring to torture of political prisoners, and punishment without a trial.

As this thread has generally ignored the constitution, I would agree with the somewhat unruly mob and say that it really has no bearing either way.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:41 PM on May 20, 2002


napolean, and toronto....they ought to be shot just for having those names....ja-zus!
posted by billybob at 2:07 AM on May 21, 2002


"No, it's how we have to stare down lily-livered weaklings who've lost the willpower to resist and destroy that which is evil" - dissent

Is your true name Ann Coulter perchance?

Have you ever noticed those folks who claim the title "pro life" (instead of anti-abortion) generally favor the death penalty? These same folks usually claim the title "Christian" (meaning Christ-like) but conveniently ignore the teachings of Jesus Christ whenever it fits their political agenda? Hypocrisy abounds in the radical right wing. It's all about having someone to hate.
posted by nofundy at 5:21 AM on May 21, 2002


"We're pro-life Christians, and we'll kill your ass." as someone once said.

insomnyuk: bullshit. The legal context for discussing 'cruel and unusual punishment' is in terms of 'evolving standards of decency'. Always has, always will be. Was thus the case in the 1800s. Are you suggesting that prisoners should be incarcerated in genuine Founding-father approved™ jails? (I can't think of any group at the time more interested in penal reform than the rag-tag of Quakers and Deists who formed the colonial splitter movement.)

You read the US constitution like fundamentalist God-botherers read the Bible, assuming that you can think your way into the minds of the creators without testing your blinkers. Thankfully, you're not in the Supreme Court. Fuckwit.
posted by riviera at 5:34 AM on May 21, 2002


Amen
posted by niceness at 6:06 AM on May 21, 2002


riviera: "Thankfully, you're not in the Supreme Court. Fuckwit."

Relax, pal. Plus, you totally, completely, and utterly misinterpreted insomnyuk's post. While you're blathering on about your pet peeve, you apparently failed to notice that he said: "As for the constitution, well the constitution means whatever you want it to mean, that's what we call 'interpretation', the necessary result in understanding a document of words which mean different things to different people" and "As this thread has generally ignored the constitution, I would agree with the somewhat unruly mob and say that it really has no bearing either way." Importantly, he never once said that the founding fathers' interpretation was inviolate, or that he agrees with it. Instead, he said exactly the opposite. So who's the fuckwit now?
posted by pardonyou? at 6:17 AM on May 21, 2002


On a different topic, I want to return to the "international law" issue. You have to understand that the primary consideration is individual state sovereignty. That doctrine says that a state has sole and complete jurisdiction over its people and territories. It can cede some of that jurisdiction by signing treaties or pacts with other countries -- although those have to be ratified, and thereafter become the "law" of the state itself. If the United States doesn't cede jurisdiction over the manner in which it runs its criminal justice system (and it hasn't), any so-called "international law" that runs counter to that justice system is meaningless. Criticizing the US for "violating" such a law is as ridiculous as criticizing people for not killing Salmon Rushdie in violation of Iran's fatwa.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:29 AM on May 21, 2002


pardonyou: if you wish to return to "international law", answer the question I posed to you earlier in this thread, which you disregarded, and to which riveira responded : ...That'll be the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights....

In response to You have to understand that the primary consideration is individual state sovereignty. That doctrine says that a state has sole and complete jurisdiction over its people and territories. It can cede some of that jurisdiction by signing treaties or pacts with other countries -- although those have to be ratified, and thereafter become the "law" of the state itself.

I am not your people, live here as a foreigner (legally), Who shall I appeal to for basic human rights, your legal system which will not offer me consular access (overstating, may maynot is individual, but in the cases this article pointed to, did not), or International Law which allows me to at least get help from my countries Embassy.

It's not a question of violating the 'Law'. it's a question of basic rights and access. Who decides, tone it down, lack of access to individual rights are being questioned.
posted by bittennails at 6:49 AM on May 21, 2002


Are you suggesting that prisoners should be incarcerated in genuine Founding-father approved™ jails?

No, but thanks for putting words in my mouth. I also like the use of the ™, very fold_and_mutilate_esque. Bravo.

You read the US constitution like fundamentalist God-botherers read the Bible, assuming that you can think your way into the minds of the creators without testing your blinkers.

No, I don't read the constitution like a fundamentalist reads the Bible, as far as I can tell. I don't really understand where you come up with this line of reasoning(Although I have a few ideas). Are you upset that I'm trying to point out that the Constitution means different things to different people, and that historical context does matter? I wasn't reccomending a course of action, next time think more and talk less, if you please.
I didn't know that pointing out the obvious could get such a vitriolic reaction.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:50 AM on May 21, 2002


Or such a lame one : Interesting that I'm mentioned in a post with this question, when all I was really doing was lazily commenting on the impotency and impracticality of international law.

Good advice : next time think more and talk less, if you please. : try following it.
posted by bittennails at 6:56 AM on May 21, 2002


Okay, bittennails, try this on for size:

"The Supreme Court has left open the question of whether the consular- notification provision creates judicially enforceable individual rights. See Breard v. Greene, 523 U.S. 371, 376 (1998). As a general matter, however, there is a strong presumption against inferring individual rights from international treaties. The Supreme Court long ago explained: "A treaty is primarily a compact between independent nations[;] [i]t depends for the enforcement of its provisions on the interest and the honor of the governments which are parties to it." Head Money Cases, 112 U.S. 580, 598 (1884). We have noted that, "even where a treaty provides certain benefits for nationals of a particular state[,] . . . it is traditionally held that any rights arising out of such provisions are, under international law, those of the states and . . . individual rights are only derivative through the states." United States ex. rel. Lujan v. Gengler, 510 F.2d 62, 67 (2d Cir. 1975); see also Garza v. Zappin, 253 F.3d 918, 924 (7th Cir. 2001) ("[A]s a general rule, international agreements, even those benefitting private parties, do not create private rights enforceable in domestic courts."); Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States, § 907 cmt. a. ("International agreements . . . generally do not create private rights or provide for a private cause of action in domestic courts . . . .")."

My original point was directed to f_and_m's original invocation of international law, which had nothing to do with consular rights. But thanks for giving me the opportunity to address those, too.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:05 AM on May 21, 2002


Didn't fit -

ALEJANDRO BUSTOS DE LA PAVA . . . , the defendant, unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly did enter, and was found in, the United States after having been deported from the United States subsequent to a conviction for the commission of an aggravated felony . . . and without having obtained the permission of the Attorney General of the United States to re-enter the United States.

- you are quoting from a legal standpoint I am opposing, just because you feel it is right, does not make it so. Is the above your reasoning for denying access?

The point still being, if your legal system can deny my consular rights, it smacks of fascism. It's a simple point.
posted by bittennails at 7:20 AM on May 21, 2002


In theory (and it used to be more often than not, practice), you could commit a crime in one state and run, being chased by the police, to the state line. Then stand on the state line and laugh at the cops on the other side of the state line, while the cops in the new state didn't do anything. Although, they could just push you so you fell on the other side again, but I digress.

Simply stated, regardless of your residency or citizenship, you are subject to the laws applicable to the place you are in, not where you are from. I can't claim 'I'm from New Jersey!' to prevent being ticketed for smoking in California, for example.

This issue is directly portable to the 'I'm from another country' argument. The only specific exclusion is diplomatic immunity. Otherwise, you're shit out of luck.

Although, I would like to say that everyone does scream and yell about international rights when it's someone of their own culture stuck in some other country's (obviously inhumane) jail system. (their own country's jail system is always more fair and humane).

Consular rights are a courtesy, not a right by law, and still would not give you any more legal protection under any law. Although you may be able to get a better lawyer.
posted by rich at 8:13 AM on May 21, 2002


By the same token, insomnyuk, how would you feel if the Iranians/Cubans/Syrians refused consular access to an indidvidual american in legal trouble, say accused of spying? This is about recipricocity, raising the bar of rights all round and mutual respect. What's wrong with that?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:23 AM on May 21, 2002


Consular rights are a courtesy

I agree with that, Rich, I am a guest, but I prefer the way dash_slot- puts it. Isn't that what america stood for? I suppose everything changes, the general direction after 9/11 though makes me reconsider my position (the fact that I choose to live here) a lot. It's sad, this used to be a welcoming country.
posted by bittennails at 8:40 AM on May 21, 2002


I don't know when I got into the consular rights debate, but I'll answer the question: I would feel bad if an American was denied consular rights by any country, and I would hope the U.S. would have signed a treaty with that nation to secure such a thing. However, if the U.S. had not secured this courtesy, as Rich calls it, then the visiting American citizen would be taking a risk by being in that country. It's up to each individual to determine whether the level of risk is acceptable for them, in light of whatever circumstances (Iranian counterpoint) they may be in.

Again, I have nothing against consular rights, but they are not absolute either. I believe there are cases where countries have waived the diplomatic immunity of their emissaries, allowing them to be tried in the country those diplomats are in.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:50 AM on May 21, 2002


MidasMulligan: "Virus invades body, causes infection, starts killing cells."

Sorry Midas. Human beings are not single-celled organisms. In fact, the more complex the organism, or alternately the more that organism assists humanity, the more attention that organism usually gets before termination. A cow gets a bum leg, they just kill it usually. I mean it was gonna end up on someone's dining table anyway. A horse gets a bum leg they call a veterinarian and do what they can before deciding to "put it out of its misery."

People on death row are not single-celled. They're not dumb animals, but some are poorly educated. They're people. If the threat of death stopped murder, I'd be all for capital punishment. There's no evidence that this curtails criminal activity. This has been evident since Hammurabi.

I'm not a pacifist because I fear death. I'm a pacifist because I've studied history, theology, great literature and sociology. I wield no doctorate, but I know enough to know that throughout thousands of years of human history, the death of man by fellow man is a futile endeavor. It never resolves anything. Education is the answer to ignorance. Not death.

Humans are fallible, and by definition so too must be their justice. Last night on Politically Incorrect, Adam Carolla said something that raised my eyebrows. Such common sense coming from a comedian not known for saying wise things. I paraphrase here but basically his sentiments were this: People who claim to worship Allah and yet take the law of their God into their own hands are hypocrites. We are all going to face Allah someday (or whatever you personally name your supreme deity, if in fact you believe in one). We will all one day face our Day of Judgement. Why do worshippers of Allah insist on taking the law of their God into their own hands? Allah did not need their help when He created this universe, so it is blasphemy to one's own God to help Him destroy. Let Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, God.. punish them in His own time.

We do not stop this madness by killing the killers. This has been attempted for thousands of years and it only turns those killing the killers into killers themselves. It perpetuates the hate, and prolongs the sinful acts that Man commits upon himself. The answer is not in violence, but in knowledge.

If a man kills another man, he is disregarding the laws that protect not only his victims but himself. He disregards his own rights by taking the rights of another. Ignorance is perhaps not a defense, but it is a reason why it happens. As J.C. said Himself hanging on that cross: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do." We must teach people before they resort to violence in desperation, that even in moments of desperation, violence is no answer to cure any ills.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:08 AM on May 21, 2002


Zach,

You forget in your christ example, Christ did not commit any sin. Yet all religions have no problem in the punishment of murderers or other criminals - they in most cases actively support and push for it.

We stop the madness by killing the killers and not letting them ever kill more people, either on the streets, or even in jail.

I think there shouldn't be a general population. They should have jails by offense type. You go to the jail for your worst offense.

As for the consular rights thing and repriocity, I agree.. we should treat citizens of other countries as we would want our citizens treated. But there are no guarrentees. Also, the whole 'under the laws you live under' in some cases, it may work to the criminal's advantage - witness the whole deportation issues surrounding criminals all over the world, like Pinnochet.
posted by rich at 9:38 AM on May 21, 2002


Zach:
Absolutely right....but there are no votes in your argument.
posted by niceness at 9:40 AM on May 21, 2002


I'm with you Zach. And Rich, what did Jesus say to those stoning the woman to death? That, my friend, is the example of Jesus to those who hate.
State sanctioned or not, killing is still killing. And let's be honest here (to use Novak's phrase), it's about hate and revenge when the state uses the death penalty, all others excuses are just that, excuses.
Can we move beyond the code of Hammurabi please? Let's get civilized and practice the tenets of our faiths, not just spout them out at our "enemies" as a tool of hatred. Are you listening, Texas?
posted by nofundy at 10:21 AM on May 21, 2002


Thankfully, you're not in the Supreme Court. Fuckwit.
No he is not. Clarence Thomas is.

btw my opinion is, if Texas voters are happy with this system (and they probably are), let them keep it and "finesse" it even more (for example those communistic, Godless, minority-loving Massachussets people don't seem to dig the Death Penalty and they don't have it in their legal system, simple as that. Just like those spineless Europeans, no?).

Anyway the death penalty going on at full blast and the "3 strikes you're out" laws seem to have to same goal, basically: to remove from society (permanently with death, or for 20-30 yrs in a cage) people who often are not white, are not useful to the economy, who don't make much money and seem reluctant to play by the rules.
It's social engineering. Not very subtle, yes. And I don't know how effective. Probably enough tho
posted by matteo at 11:11 AM on May 21, 2002


"If the threat of death stopped murder, I'd be all for capital punishment"...Zach, deterrence is a red herring. The fear of punishment (whatever that punishment may be) has never been enough to stop crime. However, the fear of the death penalty has spurred False Confessions (about 3/8s down, re: Oregon/Happy Face Killer). If life in prison really meant life I would be all for it: who's been punished more, Ted Bundy or Charlie Manson? Ted went to sleep, Charlie rots in prison.
posted by Mack Twain at 11:30 AM on May 21, 2002


I'd like to see percentage prison populations on the race/economic basis compared as ratios to the crime rate/ratios pre-conviction for the area the crime was committed in. This whole 'social engineering' accusation always rubs me wrong somehow.
posted by rich at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2002


This whole 'social engineering' accusation always rubs me wrong somehow.
It's not meant to make you feel good (or bad). It's not even an accusation. It's basically observation. The prison system is a way to get American society rid of unwanted minorities (racial and otherwise). Allow me for one sec here:

Blacks, one tenth of the US population, are half of the prison population. Are Blacks inherently evil? Maybe, but many don't think this is the case.

The number of people in jail, on parole, and on probation in the U.S. increased threefold in the last 20 years. The number of people in jail increased from about 400,000 to almost 2 million, world record.

American voters are extremely supportive of "3 strikes you're out" laws and harsher penalties for drug-related offenses.
The poor and uneducated in jail or parole or probation can't vote, don't work, if and when they get out will only get crappy jobs, won't be able to get scolarships. Half of them are in trouble because of drugs.

This system is dangerous for regular people (risk of becoming victims of crime), and it is expensive to boot.
posted by matteo at 2:10 PM on May 21, 2002


well, bittennails, I would only respond by asking whether any other countries treat consular rights differently. If most countries who signed this convention treat the issue the same way -- i.e., that the rights aren't provided to the arrested individual but to the foreign country -- then the U.S.'s approach shouldn't cause you any consternation. Or, to put it in your terms, the U.S. isn't violating "international law."
posted by pardonyou? at 6:37 AM on May 22, 2002


matteo: "The prison system is a way to get American society rid of unwanted minorities (racial and otherwise)."

Bullshit. Pure, total, libelous bullshit.

"Blacks, one tenth of the US population, are half of the prison population. Are Blacks inherently evil? Maybe, but many don't think this is the case."

"Inherently evil" has nothing to do with it. Commit more crimes? Yes, likely as a result of socio-economic factors, not race. That's a whole 'nother issue, of course, but don't use this lame argument to buttress your even lamer hypothesis.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:42 AM on May 22, 2002


pardonyou
"lame", "lame", "lamer", "libelous bullshit"

please make the effort to actually _explain_ why do you think I'm wrong. I'm giving you hard evidence, ie number, stats. I'm not insulting you
Fact is American voters have given up on a good-sized chunk of American society that does not generate revenue and is socially unpleasant (so to speak), and so they vote accordingly: don't want to pay welfare benefits for them (thus, Welfare reform), prefer to pay for a very expensive (and not so effective) criminal justice system to lock them away for often minor drug offenses (the uneffective War on Drugs, 3 strikes you're out laws) or kill them (TX, VA, etc).
2 million people in jail, man, explain that
This is social engineering, pure and simple. It's the right-wing version of it, the liberal way of course is the classic Scandinavian approach (I'm not saying that works either, you're putting words in my mouth here, don't build any straw men here)
posted by matteo at 6:57 AM on May 22, 2002


pardonyou: I'm not sure, my travels have only been between India and the US, and as such I am not familiar with consular rights in individual countries, but, I was living under the assumption (which this thread clarified for me) that this was a given. I had it figured wrong, it's quite an eye-opener, and as I have said, it's an uncomfortable feeling. The system is dangerous, how dangerous, one learns as one goes. I have personally resisted US citizenship for a while now, my wife and son being american allows me free access to this country, my giving up my indian one, just doesn't feel right to me, dual is out (not sure I care for that either), and if living in america as a foreigner continues to get more difficult, it puts me in a quandry. Mefi gives me a good sense of the american viewpoint on a host of issues, I love it for that, but don't get me wrong, it doesn't influence my decisions regarding any of this, it's really nice to know and provides good fodder, for me anyway.
posted by bittennails at 6:58 AM on May 22, 2002


matteo, I guess some arguments are so wacky they don't merit a lot of discussion. But let me try.

"The prison system is a way to get American society rid of unwanted minorities (racial and otherwise)."

First of all, the percentage of the population in prison is extremely small. Nor are sentences permanent -- most are short-term. Thus, of the few people in prison, fewer still are in any way "gotten rid of." In other words, prison isn't a very good means of getting rid of something.

Second, and more importantly, the word "unwanted" is ridiculous. Outside of a small subset of citizens (and I'm sure your country has its own subset of citizens), I don't think any honest observer would say that blacks are "unwanted" in America. I don't feel that way, none of the white people I know feel that way, and almost all of the white people I know have close friends who are black, work side-by-side with blacks, and are neighbors with blacks. And yet you conclude that there's an entire prison system that's intended to get rid of these "unwanted" people? I think its your Euro-centric misunderstanding of the U.S. that needs a little work.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:15 AM on May 22, 2002


bittennails, I agree that there are some issues. The only point I was ever trying to make is that the conception that there is some free-floating "international law" that trumps any contrary U.S. or state law, and that by following the contrary state law, the U.S. is actually violating the international law, is flawed. That said, I agree that anyone travelling in other countries should know what their consular rights are.

And like I said way at the beginning, I'm actually against the death penalty. I just personally feel that hyperbolic arguments don't help the cause.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2002


First of all, the percentage of the population in prison is extremely small
No it's not. It is not.
A little more than 8 million people are being held in prisons worldwide. 2 million in the US, a quarter. Is the US general population a quarter of the world's population?
Of course maybe I'm just Eurocentric (great code word: does it stand for "liberal", "commie", "Osama fellow-traveler", "asshole", what? I'm curious).
It's so not cool to find a jingoistic label for those who don't agree with you.

And by the way you don't talk about my fundamental point here: poor, uneducated Blacks and Mexicans are simply not useful to the American economic process, so they are UNDESIRABLE or NOT USEFUL if you don't dig the word unwanted (of course illegal immigrants who work terrible jobs with no rights are wanted, very much, in the US and Europe and Asia alike, you just ignore this basic point of my argument. US vote patterns prove me right

I'm not dissing the US, I country I admire so much -- ( you see? you got me on a loyalty oath here after your accusations, old Harry Truman still has some fans doesn't he? :) )

Anyway it goes like this: these minorities are not useful, let's lock them up.
In Europe, they receive welfare help, not jail sentences. Not a good way either as the recent anti-immigration European movement proves (immigrants are Europe's version of US Blacks and Mexicans. Of course most Blacks didn't emigrate willingly but that's a moot point, old history not to the point here)

I don't feel that way, none of the white people I know feel that way,
Pardonyou, I'm sure you're a great guy. Really, don't get me wrong. Your decency is a given and not in question, and again, I don't do name-calling so don't feel personally offended.
By the way the line of reasoning "my best friend is a Jew" or "I liked Jordan better than Bird, I really like Black people" is not particularly popular with Jews or Blacks, believe this poor Eurocentric soul.

I'm actually against the death penalty
You see? This Eurocentric MeFi guy is actually more conservative than you. I'm not necessarily against it, see?
posted by matteo at 7:47 AM on May 22, 2002


didn't emigrate willingly _in the US_ of course, sorry for the typing mistake
posted by matteo at 7:51 AM on May 22, 2002


Yes, it's just that this issue jumped out at me in this thread, and I kept returning to it even though it was kinda offtopic (sorry all, for that). The death penalty arguments here were better than anything I had to offer so I refrained there.

I did understand your point, free-floating "international law" that trumps any contrary U.S. or state law, and that by following the contrary state law, the U.S. is actually violating the international law, and I wasn't really trying to argue that, I like the concept of an 'international law', that should in basic human rights etc supercede local laws (in any country), but that's just an opinion and an argument for another thread.
posted by bittennails at 7:55 AM on May 22, 2002


"I don't feel that way, none of the white people I know feel that way..."

matteo, that is absolutely not the same as "a lot of my friends are black." The whole reason that's a stupid argument is that it doesn't say anything about a person's true feelings. You can have black friends and still be a racist. What you can't be is a racist when you have no racist feelings. My point was that the people I know do not in any sense of the word consider blacks -- poor or otherwise -- unwanted.

And Eurocentric wasn't a "code word" at all -- I literally meant that you, as a European, have a vision of America that is influenced by the fact that you're European. I don't deny that I have a partially skewed view of Europe because I'm an American (call it "Americancentric" -- I won't disagree).

And I still disagree with your whole argument. What you are arguing for would require a major concerted effort at all levels of American government that is motivated by racial hatred. It's just not so.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:22 AM on May 22, 2002


In addition to that last point, this concerted effort would have to include not only the U.S. government, but also the juries that try the criminal cases and send these individuals to prison. And guess what, in the poor, inner-city areas where many of these individuals are convicted, the juries are made up primarily of blacks! Up until two years ago, all crimes committed in Detroit were prosecuted in Recorder's Court, which drew its juries only from Detroit (which is 82.8% black). How about that! The residents of Detroit didn't like all the crime that was being committed in their city, and sent the criminals to jail even though they were of the same race!.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:37 AM on May 22, 2002


A little more than 8 million people are being held in prisons worldwide. 2 million in the US, a quarter. Is the US general population a quarter of the world's population?

I'd love to see a cite for the number of people in prison worldwide, but the more important question is how many in America are imprisoned, percentage-wise. According to the US Census Popclock, the current US population is 287.1 million, and around 2 million are incarcerated. That means 1:143. Less than 1% of our population.

And by the way you don't talk about my fundamental point here: poor, uneducated Blacks and Mexicans are simply not useful to the American economic process, so they are UNDESIRABLE or NOT USEFUL if you don't dig the word unwanted (of course illegal immigrants who work terrible jobs with no rights are wanted, very much, in the US and Europe and Asia alike, you just ignore this basic point of my argument. US vote patterns prove me right

I'm not sure what voting patterns have to do with it, but even still, according to ABC News, as of the end of 2000, 11% of African-American men and 4% of Hispanic men between the ages of 20-40 were in prison. The 11%, especially, is a staggering number, but it hardly points out a vast societal desire to remove these men from society because of their race or lack of usefulness, and more toward a desire to remove them from society because of a sad propensity to turning to lives of crime due to poor education and lack of support to seek law-abiding opportunities.

In Europe, they receive welfare help, not jail sentences.

Europe gives its criminals welfare? Or are you suggesting that our desire to stop subsidising people's failures at a level which never allows them to rise out of poverty and make any effort at bettering themselves is to blame for our prison population? You may be correct, but you may not -- to prove your point, you'd have to demonstrate a huge leap of prison population after national welfare reform, and, IMO, a leap in new, first-time convictions for those who were termed-out of welfare under the new regulations. Otherwise, your theorem fails.

Nice attempt at race-baiting, though.
posted by Dreama at 8:54 AM on May 22, 2002


a major concerted effort at all levels of American government that is motivated by racial hatred

It's not so complicated. The gov't reacts to election results and polls, which say without a shadow of a doubt that voters like a lot "3-strikes you're out", the War on Drugs and (in many States) the death penalty. We all remember poor Mike Dukakis don't we? You've got to look tough, tough, tough on crime (not that I supported him, God forbid, probably a decent man who would have made a very bad president, Carter-like imho). Clinton in the 92 campaign executed a brain-damaged man to prove he wasn't a Southern Dukakis

Hatred

I don't know. Maybe it's not 100% hatred. Maybe "discomfort" is a more apt word. I'm not saying everybody is a KKK style racist who desires to lynch all minorities, please dont put words in my mouth and make a joke of my argument and data...

The US being a very pragmatic nation ( a major plus, I admire America's pragmatism, most Europeans lack it unfortunately ) realized a few years ago that a large chunk of society is not useful for the community and potentially dangerous. They just decided that you can't change that ( I think you can try, it's a different topic than this thread's), so off with their heads so to speak. Lock them away.

And guess what, in the poor, inner-city areas where many of these individuals are convicted, the juries are made up primarily of blacks!
I know, I know. Blacks are the biggest victims of street crime, they're obvioulsy very pro-prosecution, I was in Law School too, pardonyou, I know that the lower middle class and working class are basically very prosecution-friendly ( the funny OJ verdict is basically racial payback against the LAPD and reaction to the media circus, does not count of course). I'm just saying that simple, Bible-style punishment, does not always work.

Americans have good reason to brag about millions of American accomplishments: the anti-drug campaign and laws, and the prison system are not part of those accomplishments, simple as that. Again, I'm not dissing. I'm just thinking with my head. Anyway don't trust me, read the DOJ numbers (Ashcroft's not Eurocentric like me so you can trust him... :) )

It does not take a conspiracy, man.
Politicians look good when they talk and act tough on crime. Maybe more emphasis on treatment (less expensive than jail) instead of jail would help for those hundreds of thousands of drug related offenses, less hardened criminals, more people out of jail where they learn to be better criminals and btw also get raped (many previous threads about this)

And you know as well as I do that "3 strikes" gave birth to unreasonable sentences, as previoulsy discussed on MeFi

dreama
Nice attempt at race-baiting, though.

Don't insult me, please, only because you disagree. It's not my fault that the numbers support my point.
Don't accuse me of something I did not do. It's a sad way to make one's point, dreama. I'm giving you stats
posted by matteo at 9:06 AM on May 22, 2002


Actually, the 200 census numbers are here.

Blacks are 13 % of the population, (12.3 or 12.9, depending), with Hispanics at 12.5% (although I cast doubt on the hispanic number, since people like me could really put down hispanic, and I wager a higher percentage does, even though I don't).

Matteo, statistics can support anyone's point. But jumping from a higher percentage overall of the black population being in jail compared to the white population does not automatically say the system is racist.

Although here you see that the white and black prison population is pretty equal, while the hispanic population seems to correspond to the general population percentages.

Now, of course, I would probably want to ratio these figures against the distribution of whites versus the distribution of blacks across the country.. and would wager lacks are hgihly disproportionately represented in urban areas, and then in those areas, their arrest/incarceration figures probably swing closer to the general populace.

But, of course, just seeing that all the whites are making all the rules and all the blacks are in jail and being killed.. oh SUUUUURE, america is just a big racist conspiracy country.
posted by rich at 12:07 PM on May 22, 2002


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