Saturday, February 18, 2006

Is there a doctor in the house? We have to kill a guy.

*Updated (2-21-06) below. twice in one day, now.*

California Plan Spurs Debate on Doctors, Death

I'm not going to spend too much time defending my position against the death penalty here, if only to say that I think it's barbaric for the state to collectively kill someone. Lock a dangerous person up and keep him away from the rest of society.
I'm not going to shed a tear for this particular scum of the earth. That's not the point. He's the lowest form of life we have. Understand that.
The death penalty is not a deterrent, states that have it have a higher murder rate per capita.
We are really the only western nation that still carries this out and I think it's wrong.
And can anyone spot the irony in the quote from this story:

"Defenders of the procedure say a doctor's presence ensures the execution is carried out as humanely as possible."

Well, thank goodness for that.

What the death penalty amounts to besides a collective killing is state sponsored revenge.

If there is one thing that bothers me when talking about crime and punishment, it's the idea of "prison reform".
It will be hard to have any kind of real reform until we reform our way of thinking here in the US.

It will not be enough to try and change our system to stop warehousing humans, quite often non-violent offenders, and go to more of a rehabilitation model.
We have to change our values and decide how we want to spend our tax dollars.
Rather than taking a response to crime in the form of building more prisons and hiring more correctional officers, which is the easy way out, why not take a more difficult approach and try and stop crime at its roots.

More money for education at the STUDENT level starting at the beginning.
More police officers that are acting in a PEACE officer role in our communities, walking a beat, driving a beat, cracking down on gangs, getting to know our neighborhoods and helping to stop crime where it starts and before it starts.
That means more money for salaries and for larger numbers of highly trained and educated professionals in each and every department in our nation.

The money we are wasting on the drug war, on building more prisons to house people busted on pot charges and the like should be shifted into preventing crime in the first place.
The more education and opportunities you give people from the time they are born, the fewer problems we will have as they grow older.

This is not being soft on crime; this is staying tough on real crime by building on our strengths, not ONLY reacting to the results of our failures as a society.

Updates one and two:

Doctors Pull Out of California Election

Calif. Execution Postponed Indefinitely


Scottage said...

While I agree with you in principle, I worry that by the time education and other initiatives would be able to take hold in the community, there would be a tremendous amout of crime occuring. And while I don't support the death penalty, I also admit that I don't have a real answer to the strain that crime and violence have put on our society.

Education could prevent new criminals from developing, but generally speaking it wont reform past criminals. People who have learned to profit from small cracks in present security systems will thrive in a situation where security is at a minimum.

Absolutely, the war on soft drugs is an expense that could be used towards education and ensuring a better tomorrow for our country. However, much of the money now spent on the war on drugs now overlaps monies spent on the war on terrorism, as our borders become the front lines for each war.

And even if we did abandon the war on drugs, it would not pay for the indefinite lock-up of serious criminals. The amount spent on
incarceration per prisoner per day is astronomical, and figures to rise much further with recent inflation associated with the scarcity of oil.

I did a piece about a month ago on a new type of prison in the Netherlands that is much more progressive and more cost effective, though I couldn't find the post anywhere. But look around for something on the new prison system, perhaps there is an alternative that could move towards a better solution than the death penalty.

I would love a world where we could make positive strides against crime through education and social responsibility. But at present the world is too dangerous for such a radical move.

Kevin said...

You're a smart man. I would say that scottage is wrong. Your ideas may take time to work but if worked properly, they could start to improve situations we are repeatedly experiencing in America.

Matt Vella said...

First we need to reform our thinking. Marijuana needs to be decriminalized. Big alcohol will be less than pleased, but they have nothing to fear. That type of high is encoded into our DNA.

After that, most other drugs need to be decriminalized, regulated and taxed. Take away the revenue stream from organized crime and street gangs - and they lose a good portion of their raison de etre.

Next we need to lighten the fuck up. People that have no problem with hard core violence on television get their panties in a severe bunch over seeing a pair of tits. In other words sex is bad and violence is good.

That is sick. Truly. Our societal mores are screwed the fuck up.

Mike V. said...

Scottage, I hear where you are coming from, but if you notice, part of my "idea" is earmarking MORE money for police on the streets and in the communities where they belong and are needed.
We need highly trained, well paid officers that can spend less of their time reacting and more time policing.

Scottage said...

I hear you Mike, and agree that something needs to be done. I just hope we can find something that will take into account the needs of today and the needs of tomorrow. It seems like lately everything we do is bankrupting future generations.

Tom Harper said...

Good post. I think we should eliminate all laws against victimless "crimes." That alone would save tens of billions a year.

And California needs to do something about that gang of thugs known as the Prison Guards Union. I've never seen a group with so much power and so little accountability. They make the Mafia look like a group of Boy Scouts having a public meeting at City Hall. Rehabilitation ain't gonna happen in California prisons until those prisons start being slightly less closed off and secretive than a medieval dungeon.

SheaNC said...

My take on the death penalty issue is that it is not intended as a deterrent. It is intended as an (ultimate) punitive measure for the victim's family and a few others involved.

Once, in a sociology class discussion, we hashed out the notion of what prisons were for (rehabilitation, punishment, removal from society, or any combination of those), and with regard to deterrents, what the best one might be.

The very best deterrent, it turns out, is Certainty of Punishment. Criminals know that justice is bought and sold, and that sentences are bargained for, and that they can get away with murder if they play the game a certain way. On the other hand, if punishment was certain and consistent, a deterrent would be the result. Except, of course, for the many, many murderers who suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder and thus have no concience to respond to a deterrent. They are the "lost causes", incorrigibles who will do the deed because they want to regardless of the consequences (which they don't perceive anyway).

Mike V. said...

What about a president that suffers from ASPD?

SheaNC said...

The only cure for that is for me to step into the ring with him for five minutes.

Just five minutes, man.

Five minutes.


wolf said...

The death penalty does not prevent murder, the drug war does not prevent drug use, and the "justice" system in place to deal with the "criminals" created by our dysfunctional society is a joke. We absolutely need to do much more on the front end of social problems. Our current back end approach is much too costly in terms of numbers of victims and waste of taxpayer money.
Why is it that just because a person is convicted of a crime and sent to prison that they are suddenly exempt from the responsibility of self support? Surely we can design a system that makes it possible for prisoners to take care of themselves, just like the rest of us. Then all the money currently spent by non criminals to support those in prison could be redirected to the front end of the problem. The public needs to be informed about the real social and economic costs of our failed corrections system. In addition, notions about the effectiveness of revenge as a remedy for social problem solving need revisiting.