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74 Years Old
August 5, 2004 8:25 PM   Subscribe

"The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied." Hours later, James Hubbard is injected with lethal chemicals and dies in Atmore, Alabama. Hubbard, convicted of a 1977 murder, was 74 years old, demented, and retarded. File this one under "it's not cruel and unusual if you don't know what's happening to you."
posted by PrinceValium (54 comments total)

 
"murderers especially repeat killers like Hubbard do not deserve `leniency' merely because their life of crime does not result in the imposition of a death sentence until later in life."

Works for me.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:33 PM on August 5, 2004


We were required to kill him to uphold the principle of punitive killing.
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 PM on August 5, 2004


"murderers especially repeat killers like Hubbard do not deserve `leniency' merely because their life of crime does not result in the imposition of a death sentence until later in life."

Truer words, never spoken, Fuck that dude
posted by WLW at 9:04 PM on August 5, 2004


Yeah, how can we possibly be expected to keep up with China and Saudi Arabia if we only kill the sane and able-bodied?
posted by Fezboy! at 9:18 PM on August 5, 2004


The 74-year-old death row inmate has asked an appeals court to block his execution, arguing he is too old and sick to be put to death.

Aren't the old and sick precisely the people who should want to be put to death? Hell, I'm only 29 and the worst malady I've got is gingivitis, but the more bored I get, the better a nice peaceful chemical injection sounds. Mmm, pancuronium bromide...

--------------

How Lethal Injection Works

posted by dhoyt at 9:21 PM on August 5, 2004


He looked a lot like Uncle Junior.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:31 PM on August 5, 2004


the principle of punitive killing

It's not punitive so much as weeding the human race. He's a multiple murderer. He has proven himself a weed in our garden. Not by choice, but by the simple bad luck of being a "broken" human. He's never going to become something innocuous, let alone actively beneficial to humankind. Time to administer a little bit of Round-Up&tm;.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:16 PM on August 5, 2004


Seeing how overpopulation is a major problem wasn't he at least of some beneficial purpose?
posted by Onanist at 10:20 PM on August 5, 2004


I vote for a Running Man style execution, with the proceeds donated to the families of the murdered victims.
posted by cohappy at 10:59 PM on August 5, 2004


File this one under "it's not cruel and unusual if you don't know what's happening to you."

While that sounds very flippant, it betrays a degree of ignorance... regardless of the mental state of the recipient, lethal injection is neither cruel nor unusual, at least as far as methods of enforcing the death penalty are concerned. It is the most widespread and most humane method practiced in the U.S. But kudos on your snark attempt, PV.
posted by jonson at 10:59 PM on August 5, 2004


Truer words, never spoken, Fuck that dude

Only two other countries, Japan and Kyrgyzstan, execute the mentally retarded. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted resolutions in 1999 and 2000 urging countries that retain the death penalty not to impose it on persons suffering from any form of mental impairment.

Woo! Fuck them international standards of human rights! We're gonna kick Kyrgyzstan's ass! Watch out, Japan, you're next! We're the beacon of motherfuckin' justice for the whole fucking world, and don't you forget it, dude!
posted by scody at 11:00 PM on August 5, 2004


Many seem to think that it's somehow worse to execute someone who's mentally impaired than someone who is not. Could someone who believes that please give reasons for holding such a belief? The only "reasons" I've seen in any of the links are things along the lines of: "it's revolting."
posted by epimorph at 11:22 PM on August 5, 2004


With diminished capabilities comes diminished culpability, is the way I would put it epimorph.
posted by Onanist at 12:39 AM on August 6, 2004


So then, I suppose, you view the death penalty as purely a punitive thing. Would it be the right to say that you don't believe in the principle that it's OK to execute people in order to prevent them doing any more harm, nor in the principle that it's OK to execute people to teach others a lesson?
posted by epimorph at 12:51 AM on August 6, 2004


Statistics prove you'll all have either imprisoned or executed each other by 2079.
posted by emf at 1:17 AM on August 6, 2004


He's a multiple murderer. What argument do you have against that?
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:47 AM on August 6, 2004


epimorph - I guess my opinion is that if you are 'sane' then you chose to do the things you did and accept the punishment related to it. If you are 'insane' then you need medical treatment to fix whatever is fucked up in your head.
posted by twine42 at 2:10 AM on August 6, 2004


weeding the human race

- Its called eugenics (Mengele et al., 1944).
posted by johnnyboy at 2:11 AM on August 6, 2004


He's a multiple murderer. What argument do you have against that?

Has anyone argued that he isn't? Indeed: killing is bad. I'm sure we can all agree about that. So maybe we shouldn't do it.
posted by biffa at 2:18 AM on August 6, 2004


I believe that killing a person that kills other people directly fair. I am not saying a drunk driver that killed someone should be shot on site, I am saying someone that killed another human being, retarded or not, directly needs to be removed from society.

The money spent keeping said person in jail was wasted. The lethal injection was proper in consideration of the circumstances.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:28 AM on August 6, 2004


twine42 - That's fine, as long as you believe that the death penalty is only there to punish people. However, as I've pointed out above, there may be other reasons to execute people. In fact, one of the reasons has little to do with the person who committed the crime, and views the death penalty as something to scare other people. The other reason I mentioned is prevention of future harm. If you think that this is a good reason for executing someone, as I do, then it makes more sense to execute someone who’s insane than someone who’s sane, as convincing him or her not to do any more harm is typically more difficult than with someone who’s sane. If you can “fix whatever is fucked up” in the person’s head, great. What if you can’t?
posted by epimorph at 2:29 AM on August 6, 2004


The money spent keeping said person in jail was wasted.

'This is costing me money. Let's just kill them.'

This 'society' of which you speak, do you wish it to make all its ethical distinctions on the basis of economics?
posted by biffa at 2:36 AM on August 6, 2004


I wish to make it's ethical distinctions on the fact that a human is a human, and if that human murders MORE THAN ONE other human at seperate occasions, they need to be murdered themselves for the greater good of society, as a whole.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:40 AM on August 6, 2004


epimorph, yes and yes to your questions. Basically, I view the death penalty as stupid. Judging from my one day's research into it a few years back (heh) it seemed stupid. More expensive and less effective in most of its aims when compared to incarceration. The only definite result is the removal of the dangerous criminal from society but you can achieve that result without killing the person. But then I think prison is stupid too, although it's probably the best we can manage atm, so I'm probably a bit radical on these issues... (I have a funny feeling I'm going to be called stupid ;)
posted by Onanist at 2:47 AM on August 6, 2004


twine42: "If you are 'insane' then you need medical treatment to fix whatever is fucked up in your head."

I'd agree if he had all these mental and physical health problems at the time he committed the murder; they might act as mitigating circumstances or grounds for clemency. As it is, his problems began after conviction ("Hubbard, in his federal appeals, said he didn't speak up about his mental state and health sooner because the conditions didn't exist when he was younger"). From the moment of his conviction and sentencing back in 1982, the state decided his life was forfeit - only a successful appeal or the abolition of the death penalty could save him; neither happened so, by the values of that justice system, justice had to be served.

Personally, I find capital punishment abhorrent but in a system of justice which accepts mainly retributive punishment ("an eye for an eye"), there is no good reason post-conviction ill health should halt proceedings. Accepting the application for a stay of execution amounted to agreeing that, "he wasn't healthy enough to die." Which is just too bizarre for words.
posted by pots at 3:15 AM on August 6, 2004


*glumly bookmarks thread for future reference, next time somebody comes up with the 'LiberalMeFi' argument*
posted by matteo at 3:38 AM on August 6, 2004


Personally, I find the idea of the state being given the power to execute its own citizens morally repugnant. Even more so in a state whose founders claimed to believe in the inalienable right to life.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 3:44 AM on August 6, 2004


Can we expect to see the same people supporting the execution of any service men (or women) who are found to have been responsible for the deaths of inmates in Iraqi prisons?
posted by daveg at 3:49 AM on August 6, 2004


Keyser Soze : That's not the position you advocated in your other post, which was based on keeping society safe at minimal cost. The position you advocate in your latest post also doesn't contain any reason why you can't keep society safe without killing the convict (and as an aside, neither does it explain why the first murder is a freebie).
posted by biffa at 3:53 AM on August 6, 2004


I am saying someone that killed another human being, retarded or not, directly needs to be removed from society.

For some strange reason, I wasn't in abject terror of a 74-year old man being a danger to society anymore, nor, amazingly, do I feel the world is better or safer because he's dead.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:48 AM on August 6, 2004


Personally, I find the idea of the state being given the power to execute its own citizens morally repugnant. Even more so in a state whose founders claimed to believe in the inalienable right to life.
How can life live in a country - if death runs amuck in it?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:53 AM on August 6, 2004


I wasn't in abject terror of a 74-year old man being a danger
Why not a 35-year old man? What makes one special?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:55 AM on August 6, 2004


Wow, an ideologically balanced MeFi thread!

As far as I'm concerned a prison guard who deliberately kills a prisoner who's minding his own business is a great candidate for the death penalty, absent persuasive mitigating factors. As is a corporate executive who kills someone by knowingly authorizing dumping poisonous chemicals other than in an approved site. The death penalty is good for all scumbags, not just the gas-station-robber type.
posted by MattD at 9:31 AM on August 6, 2004


The death penalty is good for all scumbags, not just the gas-station-robber type.

Amen.

Problem is the corporate executive type is probably gonna have a halfway decent lawyer, which the poor Mobil-robbing schmuck won't.
posted by jonmc at 9:50 AM on August 6, 2004


If you can “fix whatever is fucked up” in the person’s head, great. What if you can’t?

Obviously my message isn't getting across. RUNNING MAN, people.

Although, perhaps that isn't interesting enough. We could give all the retards on death row shotguns and see who survives in a classic bloody free-for-all.

Or a fatal version of Most Extreme Elimination . That'd be good.

Or just dump them in a tank with sharks. No, sharks with frickin' laser beams attached! Badass!

After all, what else are we gonna do with them, they're too broken to fix, right?
posted by cohappy at 10:05 AM on August 6, 2004


I am not saying a drunk driver that killed someone should be shot on site

I'll say it, though. I'd love to see someone shoot a drunk driver. Execution-style, on video, and get away with it.

About fifty people die every DAY because of drunk drivers. That's someone's wife, husband, child, lover -- thousands of people every day are losing someone important in their lives because some asshole just had to drive drunk.

Maybe those murdering &^%$ would think twice about getting into a car if they actually stood a chance of being hit with a real penalty for their decision.

I only feel this way on a bad day. Most of the time I'd be happy to see them imprisoned for a very, very long time.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2004



He's a multiple murderer. What argument do you have against that?


who are you to talk, dude?

and for one, i hear endless talk about how this is a Christian country, founding on Christian morals, yet when push comes to shove, that only seems to matter when taking away fags' rights, teaching bunk science in school, making children swear allegiance to a higher power, or banning butt-plugs in Alabama.

and if you don't think the death penalty is a punitive matter ...

"I didn't expect him to go as easy as he did today without saying something," Jimmy Montgomery said, adding that he did not forgive Hubbard and believed he deserved a harsher form of death.

i'm not saying it's not an arguable position, but don't deny it's the real reason behind it.

the moral debate over the death penalty is a very tricky one, but the practical debate isn't. it always ends up being more costly than incarceration for life, and the number of potential mishaps in the judicial process make it too much of a risk. i guess it temporarily soothes the victim's family, however, so it's all worth it. /snark
posted by mrgrimm at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2004


I've always been of the mind that one, possibly two, major city centres in the united states should be separated from the rest of the country as a sort of lawless area for dangreous criminals to be kept. It would only cost taxpayers only enough to supply the criminials with beat-up cars, leather jackets, eyepatches, and blackmarket guns to fight each other with. With such a situation, is there anything that can go wrong?
posted by The God Complex at 10:40 AM on August 6, 2004


i'm not saying it's not an arguable position, but don't deny it's the real reason behind it.

I'd agree with you there, mrgrimm. The main motivation for most peoples support of the death penalty, in my experience, comes from the emotional reaction to the heinous crimes many of these people are charged with, which is certainly understandable. Some of the most liberal peace-loving people I know can't help but feel rage and disgust at some of these crimes, and on that level they scream out for the ultimate punishment.

But then you look closer and see the iniquities, that the poor are much likelier to recieve it because they have lousy lawyers even though a wealthier defendant might have committed a more heinous crime.

And of course there's always the possibility of executing an innocent man, which is something that should bother every American who considers themselves tough on crime, because it carries the double injustice of the guilty party getting off scot-free. But if an innocent man is simply imprisoned than at least he can be freed, and the error somewhat rectified.


There's probably not a more law-and-order person on this board than me, but I don't mind telling you that the more serious thought (rather than simply emotion, although that needs to be considered too) I give this issue, the more doubts I have. Although, if the death penalty were ever to be abolished entirely, it's my opinion that a Life Without Parole option would have to be available nationwide, since there are some people so dangerous or deeds so heinous they can never be allowed to walk free.
posted by jonmc at 10:54 AM on August 6, 2004


a Life Without Parole option would have to be available nationwide, since there are some people so dangerous or deeds so heinous they can never be allowed to walk free.

I'd take that compromise if it means that we never kill another human for retributive reasons. You want a death penalty? Point your gun at a cop. You'll get the only kind of death penalty that's justified in a civilized country: the kind that's necessary to prevent imminent death to an innocent person.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:12 AM on August 6, 2004


who are you to talk, dude?

Oh fuck. Btw, the "first one is a freebie" is more of a safeguard. How many are really innocent?
posted by Keyser Soze at 11:18 AM on August 6, 2004


I am saying someone that killed another human being, retarded or not, directly needs to be removed from society.

Hmm. Maybe would should find some way of removing people from society without killing them. Oh, I know! We'll call them prisons!

But then where would the death penalty advocates go to sake their bloodthirst?

Vengeance does not make good public policy.
posted by callmejay at 12:02 PM on August 6, 2004


FFF - "He has proven himself a weed in our garden." - So you're a Eugenicist ?

That's a valid position, sure, but I'm a bit surprised nonetheless.
posted by troutfishing at 12:12 PM on August 6, 2004


trout: I strongly feel that those persons who prove themselves incapable of controlling their sociopathic behaviours needs to be removed from society.

If this is done expediently through revoking their life, fine with me. If that cost is too great, then life prison is fine, too. Just keep them the hell away from the greater part of society.

They're the moldy bit on our block of cheddar: cut 'em off and throw them away.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:07 PM on August 6, 2004


I'm opposed to all capital punishment, not just that of the old or retarded.

First, the 'what if he's innocent' factor? If 1 in 100 people convicted for murder are innocent, then in the year 2000 155 innocent people got locked up.

Secondly, there are numerous studies that show it is more expensive to execute somebody than it is to give them life without parole. The up-front costs of a death penalty trial could often be invested and used to pay for the lifetime incarceration, without touching the principal.

Lastly, killing people is wrong. Sure, they're terrible people, but my religious beliefs don't come with an asterisk.

I support the protection of society from murderers, but I want it to be done responsibly, efficiently and in a manner that is reversible in case of error.
posted by mosch at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2004


Can we get some data proving lethal injection is as expensive as life in prison?
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:20 PM on August 6, 2004


Keyser, i'm sure you realize it's not actually the injection itself that is costly ...

as for data, it cuts both ways. most of the studies i've seen suggest that a death penalty sentence costs significantly more than life without parole.

lots of supporting info here (though from an obviously anti-death penalty source).

obviously, the data can be used differently. however, it's hard to find an unbiased evaluation. it also apparently varies a lot from state to state.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:43 PM on August 6, 2004


If it is indeed the case that in our system it is more expensive, in the end, to execute someone than to send them to prison for life, then perhaps that's a good reason to change the system, and not necessarily to get rid of the death penalty. I mean, if you think that it's just flat out wrong to kill people, no matter what they've done, fine. But for those who think otherwise the cost of executing someone is not in itself a reason to stop executing people, it just means that we should try to find more efficient ways of doing so.

Also, while most people who support the death penalty do so for punitive reasons, not everyone does. I think that the best reason for having the death penalty is prevention. You lock up somebody, and he may escape and kill someone again, or even kill someone next to him in jail, like a guard. On the other hand, if you kill him, that’s it.
posted by epimorph at 2:59 PM on August 6, 2004


As I understand it, it's usually the cost of the appeals process (and also the resources being diverted to the case due to increased scrutiny and media attention) being factored in that makes executions more expensive than life imprisonment. But that line of argument never made much sense to me, since people who have been convicted of life imprisonment can (and will) sap public funds with their own appeals. In fact, one might argue that with "new evidence" appeals decades later to attempt to free someone from life imprisonment (whether the evidence is exculpatory or not) is an expense that would not be incurred by the death penalty. It seems obvious that, legal costs aside, the actual cost of the execution pales in comparison to the cost of life imprisonment. There's a lot of data pointing out the increased legal costs while failing to make the case that these are necessary and unique components of capital punishment.

I don't really have an opinion on this issue though--it's far too sad for me to look at state-sponsored killings as merely an issue of cost reduction, whether you believe executions to be right or wrong. However, I find arguments based on moral/ethical positions (on both sides) and the pragmatic issues of human fallibility and systemic inequalities to be more convincing.
posted by DaShiv at 3:01 PM on August 6, 2004


Well, I say it's always better to lock a sociopathetic ratbastard up in a 1x2m solitary confinement room for life, than to simply off him. Why let him off easy? Make the torture last.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:14 PM on August 6, 2004


I'll admit that I am biased against the death penalty, but there is a pretty large oops factor in far too many execution. I would be much more open to reconsidering my position on the death penalty if I were satisfied that it wasn't being use disproportional against African Americans. African Americans only make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they made up 43% of the inmates on death row in 1999, and a little more than a third of those actually executed that year.. Moreover, according to Amnesty International, the death penalty also project racial bias on the victims of murder. You are much likely to be executed for killing a white person, than a person of color.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:55 PM on August 6, 2004


Well, then, I guess we'll have to agree that the solution ain't all that black and white, eh?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 PM on August 6, 2004


*glumly bookmarks thread for future reference, next time somebody comes up with the 'LiberalMeFi' argument*

Quite. I tend to put the fact that this site is seen as left-wing down to another case of those funny little transatlantic differences. I mean, it's not like the you see many revolutionary socialists on here, let alone any really left-wing folk ; )

Anyway, call me old-fashioned, but I believe killing people to be wrong; and it doesn't matter a jot if it's a state or an individual doing the killing, or what the motives are in either case. Or how much it costs the taxpayer, for crying out loud.
posted by jack_mo at 7:15 AM on August 7, 2004


I don't know why I bother, but this is from John Ralston Saul, On Equilibrium, p 88-89 :

"Throughout history the higher the civilization, the more reticent it has been to use the ultimate power of state violence. The most visible power of the leaser has usually been that of commuting death sentences. To commute was to demonstrate the power of grace -- a godlike power -- which was ranked much higher than those of punishment and revenge. Why higher? First, punishment and revenge are expressions of fear and insecurity. Both rightfully exist, but both, if allowed to lead us, are signs of social failure. Second, the higher the civilization the more the citizenry as a whole in considered to be responsible. To commute was to express the confident cohesion of the society.

This is not an idea proper to democracies. Only in the most brutal of societies did -- or indeed does -- the leader lead and the people submit. In tribal societies and sophisticated monarchies the concept of grace meant that the leader accepted that there was a more important level of judgment than his own. The more complex the society or the more ethically conscious the leader -- whether the absolute monarch, prelate or soldier -- the more he wished to act as if with a wider consent. This idea of the consent of the populace has taken on hundreds of slightly different forms over the centuries. Once you reach the democratic idea of legitimacy rooted in the citizenry, an execution implies that the populace not only consents, but assumes responsibility for the decision. You, as a citizen, are no less directly responsible than a president or a judge or the jury on which you would be prepared to personally sit.

Democratic consent means that you would be prepared personally to act as an executioner. Execution is not an abstract theory. It is an existential act. To be for the death penalty is to consider the convicted one by one and answer affirmatively the question: Am I personally prepared to kill that man? Consciously or unconsciously that final level of responsibility explains why Western democracies, with one exception, have ended the practice. The citizenry found themselves face to face with the combination of an ethical reality and their personal responsibility and decided that legal murder was ethically unacceptable, whatever the conditions. That the death penalty has returned with such a vengeance in one Western society tells you more about the social crisis that place is experiencing that the meaning of ethics."


I transcribed this because he says it better than I could myself, although it's an idea that has been self-evident to me since I was a teenager (decades ago, yikes) at least. I wrote a short story in which 'jury duty' actually consisted of a selected individual being weighted with the responsibility of choosing alone whether or not a criminal deserved death, and if so choosing, pushing the button to administer the death sentence in the form of electrocution, while being required to look into the face of the criminal in question, behind the glass, as he died.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:32 PM on August 7, 2004


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