Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Comic Strip
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."
Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Some might think I am anti death penalty based on the title of this post. I am not. I once was but no longer. Here is that story of why I no longer oppose it (originally posted in August of 2012). I am re-posting this because of the execution Thursday in Ohio of a man who raped, sodomized, and murdered a woman who was 8 months pregnant.
For much of my life, we (as a nation) have debated
the efficacy, morality, and now the economics of the death penalty
(hereafter referred to as DP). It's not a new tactic, the cost of death
penalty sentence has been shown to be more expensive than a life without
parole (LWOP) sentence. But, instead of that old argument, the new one
argues how much more expensive it is to just prosecute a capital case
than a case where the DP has been taken off the table.
ran into a DP opponent in junior high. One of the smartest kids I knew
and his argument was solid. This was in 1960 and he used the Caryl Chessman
case as his foundation. He forced me to read up on Chessman so that I
could understand his position. He eventually convinced me to also oppose
the DP. And I stayed opposed to it for many years.
At some point
I changed my mind and began supporting it again. It was Robert Alton
Harris who was my reason for a change of mind. Robert Alton Harris.
Here's how Wiki describes his crime: On
July 5 [,1978], the Harris brothers happened upon John Mayeski and
Michael Baker, both 16, sitting in a green Ford LTD eating hamburgers in
a supermarket parking lot in Mira Mesa. Mayeski and Baker were best
friends who had planned to spend the day fishing to celebrate Mayeski's
newly acquired driver's license. Robert Harris commandeered Mayeski's
car and ordered him to drive to Miramar Lake, with Daniel Harris
following in another vehicle. Robert Harris told the boys that they
would be using the vehicle to rob a bank, but that no one would be hurt.
At Miramar Lake, the Harris brothers ordered the boys to walk away from
the vehicle. While they were walking, Robert shot both boys multiple
times. The Harris brothers then returned to Robert's Mira Mesa home and
finished the victims' half-eaten hamburgers while Robert boasted about
I was living in San Diego at the time and it
was big news. The murders were unknown at the time of the Harris
brothers' arrest but soon came to light. The case was on everyone's
lips, it seemed, for quite some time. The outrage was incredible. And I
was caught up in it. I think the calmness of the Harris brothers
immediately after the murders is what fed the outrage. It was a planned
execution of two kids just so they could steal the car they were in.
Harris, I believe, testified against his brother and claimed he had no
knowledge of his brother's intention to kill the two boys. He was
sentenced to 6 years for kidnapping and was released in 1983.
the years since then, I have developed reasons for supporting the DP.
The economic reasons for opposing it do not impress me.
economic argument is that it costs, on average, $1.3 million more to
prosecute a murder case where the DP is a possible sentence. What is
behind the additional cost? The enhanced investigation and the increased
oversight required, and the higher security measures for the trial as
well as having two phases; main trial and sentencing trial.
how many DP cases are tried each year? Good luck finding that number.
When you research the DP online, you get a lot of data about executions
and about the cost of carrying out that sentence vs life sentences but
you will have an extremely difficult time getting a count of capital
punishment cases each year in the U.S. I would like to see that, along
with the number of convictions and DP sentences vs the number of
acquittals and lesser sentences handed down. I would then like to learn
how many potential DP cases were pleaded down to LWOP or less.
see, I think the specter of the DP has an effect on murderers facing
trial. An effect that gets them to plea bargain rather than take their
chances with a trial. Unlike TV, the vast majority of murder cases are
pretty clear cut. There's little mystery involved. The culprit (or
culprits) are pretty much known early in the investigation. Only a
handful or two are not clear cut. In 2010, there were a total of 104
death sentences handed out nationwide. According to Wiki there were
12,996 intentional homicides in the U.S. in the most recent year for
which data were available (incidentally Mexico, which does not have the
DP, had over 25,000 murders).
I do not see studies covering this
aspect. I understand why, though. It would undermine the economic
arguments against the DP if it turned out the penalty induced a great
number of plea bargains, thereby saving the state huge amounts of money
for trials and appeals.
other point I'd like you to consider: Do we do sloppier investigations
and run sloppier trials for cases where we are not seeking the DP?