on a budget madame, well incarceration is our cheaper plan.
February 28, 2002 7:36 AM   Subscribe

on a budget madame, well incarceration is our cheaper plan. Yes it seeems that the economics suggest that life imprisonment is the prudent option rather than the wanton excess of execution.
posted by johnnyboy (17 comments total)
What about the alternative of a speedy trial, minimal appeals and a swift execution? Not just the typical rant, though, as two reforms must be met: capital punishment only for murderous crimes and all capital offenses are federalized.
First, capital punishment for non-murderous crimes is the great "slippery slope" of executing individuals whose greatest crime is to be offensive to society. As was said in the Polly Klaas murder trial by a juror, "I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he flipped us off."
The federalization of capital punishment should be done to take the power of life and death away from elective officials, as public opinion should not be a factor in a death sentence.
posted by kablam at 8:07 AM on February 28, 2002

Arather silly article that assume that we use forms of punishment based on economics when in fact it has more to do with our sense of "moral" and "ethical" treatment deserved by those found guilty.
If we were to be ruled by economics, then sim;y use the cheapest of all forms of punishment. Do away with jail and lop off arms and legs etc.
posted by Postroad at 8:08 AM on February 28, 2002

Economics is one of the arguments that proponents of the death penalty regularly use, so I personally appreciate seeing a counterpoint with citations (thanks johnnyboy).

Regarding the more economical alternative proposed by kablam, I wouldn't want to see a rushed approach to meting out death under the flag of justice, as that would likely lead to more mistaken convictions than can happen with a more robust (read lengthly & therefore expensive) trial system.
posted by holycola at 8:16 AM on February 28, 2002

....capital punishment increases crime....
.....capital punishment has a definate brutalizing effect on society.....
posted by johnnyboy at 9:04 AM on February 28, 2002

I'm not a huge fan of the death penalty (nor an opponent of it, really), but I think this analysis is flawed. The first executions carried out by a state are the most expensive as the courts have the largest number of questions to consider. The constitutional questions have largely been ironed out, so the appeal process should be less resource intensive in the future. The analysis in the linked article includes sunk costs, so it's not really valid from a cost accounting point of view. I don't think that's necessarily the right way to look at capital punishment, but it's the way the article looks at it. On a going forward basis (the only rational way to make decisions), it seems that the cost of executions should fall significantly. The costs of incarceration are more likely to increase.
posted by anapestic at 9:05 AM on February 28, 2002

you may analyse the detail an there are areas that are more than open to criticism, there is no such thing as the perfect article. However this does not devalue the central thesis. Capital punishment does not serve the desired intention, it is not a deterent, it is not cost effective (which is neither here nor there) in fact it seems it only has a de-humanising effect on all parties whether directly involved or not. There is no such thing as a swift and just judicial system, and anyone who says otherwise is deluding themselves (in my humble opinion).
posted by johnnyboy at 9:14 AM on February 28, 2002

Capital punishment serves its primary purpose- punishment- perfectly.

I don't give a damn if even one murder by another individual is stopped by the execution of a murderer. Doesn't matter, Period. That individual, who killed, is punished, and will never kill again. It's that simple.

It's dehumanizing not to value human life to the point where taking it is, at least potentially, a capital offence.
I'm more worried about the washed-out, wimpy, unemotional society that has lost its ability to scream for blood when an outrage occurs than I am about the society that takes joy in seeing murderous blood spilled.
posted by dissent at 9:53 AM on February 28, 2002

In cases of uncontrovertible proof, I'm all for the death penalty. I see absolutely no reason for this society to waste its time on people who cause grievous harm to others.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:25 AM on February 28, 2002

If we as a society claim that killing is wrong, then we must not use that as a punishment. We must say to killers that they have done wrong and they are no longer welcome to be a part of our society, and then lock them up for life. A punishment without hope for rehabilitation is simply nothing more than revenge.

Killing them lets them off to easy. A dead person can not kill again sure, but they can also never think again, never breath again, never think about what they did again.

Life is sacred, we should honor it and protect it at all costs. Plus, the cost of locking someone up for life is cheaper.

I will never take a life, and I have never asked the government to take a life for me. No one has the right to end another person's life - save for their own, this includes our govenrment.
posted by DragonBoy at 12:05 PM on February 28, 2002

jonnyboy, what is the purpose of putting people in prison? It must be punishment, because it certainly cannot be deterence; if it were deterence, we wouldn't need the prisons because criminals would be so detered by the fear of prison there would be no crime. 'Studies' which state the wrongness of the death penalty based on the absence of deterence are missing the point, because there is no such thing as deterence.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:16 PM on February 28, 2002

I don't know about society, which I generally view as a collection of fools, anyhow, but I do not claim killing is wrong. I claim killing people who are not evil {IE: engaged in the grave injury of others} is wrong.

No, we should NOT honor and protect life at all costs. We should honor the rights of those who have not sought to gravely injure others for illegitimate reasons, and protect them from those who would harm them.

I'll take a life in defense of my own, in defense of those I love, and/or in defense of my country. I ask the government to take lives where necessary to defend myself and those I care about.

I don't give a crap about what you hold "rights" to be, Dragonboy. You can't assure my safety, you can't assure the safety of those I care about, and if I or those I care about were killed, you would fail to properly punish the killer.

A dead killer also can't gloat over the fact they're alive and their victims aren't.

Revenge? Yes, I believe strongly in revenge. I believe absolutely in revenge. I believe completely in revenge. And if the government, and it's laws will not assure punishment and state-sanctioned revenge, I have no use for that government.
posted by dissent at 12:37 PM on February 28, 2002

eh. "its" possessive, not "it's" contraction. Sorry.
posted by dissent at 12:52 PM on February 28, 2002

....and back into the primordial soup we stumbled to blind and ignorant to know any different.
posted by johnnyboy at 1:20 PM on February 28, 2002

Well in my opinion revenge is an impulse which must be suppressed. It is irrational and serves no just cause, unlike justice which is of course just, by nature and definition. I think you're a clever guy dissent and I'd like you but you seem like a very angry pissed off person and nobody digs that, period.

The death penalty isn't much of a punishment for a murderer as it is revenge for those people who, in being related to the victim, but not dead like the victim, are given the right to murder without any consequence. Given that capital punishment does no good, and is expensive, and impossible to fully prove the justification of, and only serving people still alive, I can't see how one could support it.

And chew on this america - according to our beliefs, when you die you are no longer subject to human imposed punishment. If you want insurance of suffering, keep them miserable with the living. Not like you've ever distrusted the will of your god before.

And dissent you need a mentos cos you are not a fresh easy going guy. I would doubt you've never killed or been killed either, so I don't see how your possesion of an opinion works out logically. Also, you should visit a prison. Not many people convicted of murder escape, and those who are let out are let out because everyone agrees they can do no more harm.

12:37 First post
12:52: eh. "its" possessive, not "it's" contraction. Sorry.

I wonder if you look like speedy gonzales.
posted by Settle at 1:34 PM on February 28, 2002

Well in my opinion revenge is an impulse which must be suppressed.
I tend to think revenge can sometimes be a good thing, especially when it's morally justified.

If you want insurance of suffering, keep them miserable with the living.
Most of the people executed via the death penalty express no remorse for their crimes anyway. The goal is to remove them from the plane of existence, not give them time to "think about things" - the victim sure didn't get that luxury.
posted by owillis at 1:37 PM on February 28, 2002

You guys are just now finding out that the death penalty costs more trial-to-needle than life incarceration? Golly. You know, some states (Texas comes to mind) have an automatic appeal on death penalty cases.

I have not even touched upon cases where convictions have been overturned, where new trials have been ordered because of incompetant/sleeping counsel, where it turns out that evidence has been manufactured/altered/hidden, where later DNA or other advanced testing has cleared the "convicted scumbag."

Don't get me wrong, I don't actually have any philosophical problems with the death penalty. It is, however, neither economical nor without error.
posted by ilsa at 2:24 PM on February 28, 2002

Nah, settle. More like Taz. Much more like Taz.
posted by dissent at 2:36 PM on February 28, 2002

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