today a fellow mexican will be executed in texas
August 14, 2002 6:28 AM   Subscribe

today a fellow mexican will be executed in texas, for killing a cover agent 13 years ago… besides the mexican government, e.u. & u.n. are also calling for clemency; they argue that u.s. authorities denied him legal assistance from the consulate. right now, suárez medina only wants to die. the question is: isn't it better to die than be in prison all your life? i would prefer to be killed instead of living in jail more than 20 years. the sad about suárez medina case is that he has been in jail 13 years from now and anyway he is going to be killed! the texas government should have killed him immediately he was found guilty. “i prefer to die than spend the rest of my life here inside because here there is no life.” said suárez in an interview. in punishment standards i find worst to live in jail forever than being executed. what would be worst for you?
posted by trismegisto (30 comments total)
 
what would be worst for you?

Not having due process and appeals like you suggested here:

the texas government should have killed him immediately he was found guilty
posted by skallas at 6:33 AM on August 14, 2002


having a life sentence with a looped DVD of "Flipper" being broadcast into my cell 24/7. Its how they made Gollum crack you know.
posted by outsider at 6:39 AM on August 14, 2002


Lots of people don't want to go to jail or stay there a very long time. That's kind of the entire point. If jail was a nice place to be, then it wouldn't be much of a punishment, now would it?
posted by catfood at 6:50 AM on August 14, 2002


If I was sentenced to jail for that long and there was no hope of getting out, I'd probably kill myself one way or another. What's the point of living like that?
posted by agregoli at 6:55 AM on August 14, 2002


This reminds me of the debate that was carried out in a short story by a Russian writer (I believe). There were two characters, one bet the other that life imprisonment was worse than the death penalty. So they bet some outrageous amount of money and one man stayed in a shed, locked up, for 40 years. The night before the bet was supposed to end, the other man, knowing he could not pay, went to kill the man who had kept his end of the bet. But he had left with a note saying something like "death would be better than this any day"

Does anyone know what story I'm talking about? I read it in Sophomore English in High School too many years ago.
posted by psychotic_venom at 6:58 AM on August 14, 2002


I thought jail was the place you went to work out and get a degree, and watch some tv, cable no less or we will riot.

What jail should be.
One wool army blanket issued at your arrival, spread out on you very own slab of cement with maybe a sack of straw to soften it up. Breaking rocks 14 hours a day. A cell wallpapered with crime scene photos of your crime to remind you why you are in jail.

Due process for death row, meaning no more 20 year appeal cycles, not even 10 or 5 for that matter.

Welcome to jail. Prepare to be punished.
posted by a3matrix at 7:00 AM on August 14, 2002


the texas government should have killed him immediately he was found guilty

The problem with this thinking is that occasionally lengthy delays and a thorough appeals process leads to the release of an innocent man.

Since 1973 one hundred and two people have been released from death row. These numbers will only increase as forensic science improves. That, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with the death penalty. Regardless of this individuals guilt or innocence, the time consuming nature of the process is a damn good thing.

When you do something as irrevocable as taking a life the presumption that the justice system is infallible is a prerequisite, that obviously isn't the case.
posted by cedar at 7:04 AM on August 14, 2002


Where there is life, there is hope. There are several options available to a man who's death sentence is commuted to life: (a) one can, in prison, if one is strong enough and vicious enough, carve out some measure of power and influence for oneself, and even enjoy some of life's pleasures; (b) one can foment appeal after appeal, looking for some misstep that might serve as a gateway to freedom; (c) one can plan and participate in escape attempts - successful ones are rare, true, but they do occur; and (d) one might successfully be paroled eventually. Victims grow older and want only to put whatever hell they've been put through behind them, and the memory of the public is even shorter; evidence is misplaced, the distance in years from one's crime lengthens, and the quality of mercy is strong; laws may even change, rules of evidence, occurrences of police corruption or judicial incompetence may come to light. One may be freed. If one is lucky or particularly notorious, one might even garner the support of college students, who might in turn go out and work on one's behalf.

Prisoners who request their death sentence be implemented are fools.
posted by UncleFes at 7:12 AM on August 14, 2002


What jail should be.
One wool army blanket issued at your arrival, spread out on you very own slab of cement ...


Would this be for all jails? Even county lockups where people are incarcerated for smoking a joint or writing a bad check? What about people awaiting trial (there *is* a presumption of innocence)?

Or do you mean prisons (you are aware of the difference, aren't you)? Would this apply to non violent 'white-collar' criminals or just violent felons? Should minors be treated the same way, the retarded, the mentally ill (a great many of all these are incarcerated)? Have you considered the potential consequences and increased recidivism that will likely occur if we treat people in such a dehumanizing fashion?

As someone who has worked extensively in and with the juvenile justice system, I find your attitude reactionary and can't say I'd much enjoy living in a society where justice is based on vengeance.
posted by cedar at 7:30 AM on August 14, 2002


If I were to be imprisoned, I would prefer life, that would give me more opportunities to escape.

Would this be for all jails? Even county lockups where people are incarcerated for smoking a joint or writing a bad check?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio does this, and his jails are run very efficiently, though the ACLU doesn't seem to like his tough-guy approach very much. The taxpaying voters don't seem to mind it though.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:36 AM on August 14, 2002


What jail should be.
One wool army blanket issued at your arrival, spread out on you very own slab of cemen


This is ridiculous. We've seen that rehabiliation programs do work, especially for drug offenders. We've seen that prison is a crime convention and those who leave are better criminals than before they arrived. We've seen what mandatory minimum sentences do e.g. a rapist gets out before a pot dealer. Also, there's no reason to break rocks, if you want to get good behavoir points in our commercial prison system you will work for Microsoft packaging WIndows XP, working a machine, etc for pennies an hour while real jobs are removed from the market.

I hope you or someone you know or love doesn't get arrested anytime soon.
posted by skallas at 7:37 AM on August 14, 2002


a3matrix,
What jail should be...

Sorry, but I have to disagree. To make jail truly a place that no one would want to go would involve Hee-haw reruns and make out sessions with Phyllis Diller. If the penal system could line up that kind of sentence then I would prefer death.
posted by DragonBoy at 7:53 AM on August 14, 2002


If Javier Suarez Medina were locked up in a federal prison he could die a nice slow painful death caused by sub-standard medical treatment for cancer.

That's the way the feds got rid of John Gotti.
posted by flatlander at 8:11 AM on August 14, 2002


Of literary relevance is the well known Albert Camus story
"The Stranger"
in which a French-Algerian possessed by Jimmy-Carterian malaise absent-mindedly kills an arab on the beach. Once imprisoned he discovers for the first time that he actually has some desire to live.

I continue to not know what to think about this relatively new invention, the prison. It certainly doesn't fulfill the redemptive role its creators intended. And seems to fill other functions, like removing the disaffected from public debate, I'd prefer not be filled at all.
One thing I feel for certain, however, is that the U.S. isn't taken seriously on issues of human rights or international relations when we continue ignoring the reasonable requests of other nations regarding their citizens.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:23 AM on August 14, 2002


make out sessions with Phyllis Diller

Thankfully the Constitution protects us from cruel and unusual punishment, and this would certainly qualify as both.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:29 AM on August 14, 2002


then make them watch the Phyllis Diller garage sale video. (google it up folks...it exists
posted by clavdivs at 8:48 AM on August 14, 2002


make out sessions with Phyllis Diller

That would be a tough sentence.

I hope you or someone you know or love doesn't get arrested anytime soon.

The point being in life, not to get arrested. If you are arrested, you have done something wrong and you should face punishment. That is what prison (jail was a generic reference in an earlier post) is supposed to be.

Jail/prison is not some place that you go to enjoy, nor is it a place that people should go to get buff and get degrees.

White collar crime? Crime is crime. I say toss those F$%K's in general population like everyone else, after confiscating all of their illegal profits.

Rehabilitation? Maybe for some things it is worth it. But there are some crimes that do not call for it. Some crimes simply demand punishment. Rape, murder, molesting children...

My bottom line is just that all too often it seems that convicted prisoners are getting off way too easy, and not getting the punishment that they warrant.

If it seems that I am ranting from the right on this issue, it is because I am.
posted by a3matrix at 8:49 AM on August 14, 2002


The point being in life, not to get arrested. If you are arrested, you have done something wrong and you should face punishment.

I read somewhere about this "innocent until proven guilty" hooha. Anybody else heard of it? Getting arrested does not mean you're guilty. To suggest we should concentrate on not getting arrested is great advice ... for criminals. It leads to high speed persuits, hostage taking, murder-suicide standoffs, etc. What should be taught isn't "don't get arrested or it will be awful for you", as the punishment crowd suggests. The point of rehabilitation is to teach that there are better ways of living.

(For the record, IMO the crimes that are henious enough to defy rehab DON"T necessarily demand punishment. They call for a removal of the offender from the public ... incarceration ... but I would like to see the justification for the revenge-through-punishment stance.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:01 AM on August 14, 2002


The point being in life, not to get arrested. If you are arrested, you have done something wrong and you should face punishment.

I see, so if you get arrested you've done something wrong. Like driving while black (primarily New Jersey), non-violently protesting for something you believe in (big in DC) or have a sheep in the back seat of your car (Iowa only). It's absurd to think that anyone arrested has committed a crime and your giving law enforcement far too much credit.

Rehabilitation? Maybe for some things it is worth it. But there are some crimes that do not call for it.

But as you say, "crime is crime." You can't have it both ways.

My bottom line is just that all too often it seems that convicted prisoners are getting off way too easy, and not getting the punishment that they warrant.

You must not live in NY with the always popular Rockefeller drug laws. I find it hard to see the kid busted at a Phish with a few hits of blotter who is now doing an 8-15 bid in Attica as someone who got off easy.

Your entire argument is based on a couple of false assumptions. The first being that authority is always right and the second being that the criminal justice system in the US is inherently fair and unbiased. Both beliefs are, at the very least, naive.
posted by cedar at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2002


The first being that authority is always right and the second being that the criminal justice system in the US is inherently fair and unbiased. Both beliefs are, at the very least, naive.

Hell, I'll go even further and say that ALL convicted criminals are really innocent. Come on, no one commits a crime anymore. We should let all of these good innocent folks out of prison and let them start new lives. It's time to throw our legal system out the window and love one another again.
posted by bradth27 at 9:23 AM on August 14, 2002


I just want to state that I am wowed by a3matrix's machismo. He's one tough hombre. His conception of what prison should be leaves my weak liberal sensibilities shaken to their very core. Only a real Man would have the stomach, the sheer intestinal fortitude, to be so strict and forceful with people he will never see, or know anything about.

I think the image of shoplifters forced to look at photographs of their crimes will stay with me forever.
posted by Doug at 9:47 AM on August 14, 2002


As long as we are talking about prison in literature, my recommendation is One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. The novel simply portrays one grueling day in the life of a prisoner in the Gulag. Unforgettable. It will make your life seem unbelievably luxurious in comparison.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:04 AM on August 14, 2002


"I think the image of shoplifters forced to look at photographs of their crimes will stay with me forever."

Especially if they were shoplifting photographs.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:30 AM on August 14, 2002


Americans have a sadistic streak about prisons. Otherwise, a prison would reasonably seem to be a dreadful waste of resources.
Why not have prisoners providing much-needed environmental and infrastructure improvements on indian reservations or federal and State lands?
Imagine how many trees TWO MILLION prisoners could plant!
posted by kablam at 10:35 AM on August 14, 2002


Why not have prisoners providing much-needed environmental and infrastructure improvements on indian reservations or federal and State lands?


Hmm Why not use them for medical experiments... they do owe society.
posted by crackheadmatt at 11:19 AM on August 14, 2002


Hmm Why not use them for medical experiments... they do owe society

Or for food.
posted by bradth27 at 11:52 AM on August 14, 2002


I would like to see the reaction of the U.S. government if the Mexican government sentenced one of their citizens to death penalty...

The death penalty is actually permitted in the Constitution, for "traitors in foreign wars, the murder of a parent, 1st-degree murder, arson, kidnapping, highway robbery, piracy and serious offenses in the military." However, it hasn't been enforced in the last fifty years...

P.S. Fox just got involved.
posted by ultradian at 2:09 PM on August 14, 2002


I could get the death penalty if we were at war and I deserted to go live in Canada. Are we at war yet?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:21 PM on August 14, 2002


When I heard about this story I -- like utlradian-- wondered what the US would think if one of its citizens found themselves in the same predicament. It would probably have a similar outcome for Joe Sixpack. Unless the criminal was a v.i.p. Do you think Jenna Bush would experience a turkish prison like in Midnight Express if she was caught with drugs? Of course not. She'd be on the next plane back to the us of a.
posted by birdherder at 5:23 PM on August 14, 2002


[One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch] simply portrays one grueling day in the life of a prisoner in the Gulag.

I second that recommendation. In the words of Anne Applebaum, discussing Martin Amis' unintended of diss of his friend Chirstopher Hitchens, the novel "convey[s] either the dull, gray, repetitiveness of daily life in the Gulag or the size and variety of the camp system, which had branches in virtually every region of the USSR and participated in virtually every industry."
posted by sillygwailo at 10:59 PM on August 14, 2002


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