Sunday, July 10, 2011

Capital Injustice

One massive change in California's criminal justice may be coming around the corner with recently proposed legislation that would ban the death penalty.Capital punishment in California has become as much a mockery as it's budgetery process.

As we reported last week, California spends about $184 million each year on the death penalty alone. That may not sound like a tremendous amount in a state with budget deficits in the tens of billions, but put it this way: Taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since 1978 when the death penalty was reinstated. Over that time, they have executed 13 people. That means that there was about $308 million spent on each executed prisoner.

It's really quite ridiculous when you stop to think about it.
The System in California has been flawed almost from the time it was reinstated (by demand of the voters, in 1978). Jerry Brown, a full red-shirted liberal and avid Death Penalty opponent, was sitting in the Governor's mansion at the time. He threw several wrenches into the system prior to leaving office with his judicial appointments. Justices who used some pretty unsound reasoning's to commute Death Sentences to LWOP (Life With Out Parole), such as those who were removed from the Supreme Court by the voters in the late 80's.

Since, challenges to executions have been successful on such stupid reckonings as: how safe is the execution drug?; expiration dates and shelf lives of the drug; is the needle properly sterilized?; the execution chamber is too old; is the execution chamber sterile?... the list goes on ...stupid, stupid idiotic shit all for the sake of preserving the lives of people like this (go ahead, read it, then come back. I'll wait for you.)

And then read this one.

And then this one.
There are more, but I think I've made my point.

I am opposed to Capital Punishment as a general principle. That does not mean I must oppose proper justice for certain pieces of human trash that float through our usually civilized society.

The failure of California's criminal justice system in carrying out death penalties is not an accident. It's a carefully choreographed attempt by some of the worst legal and moral minds to subvert a proper system in order to protect the 'sanctity of life' of the very worst of the worst criminals in our midst.

I support the repeal.
As for those who made the repeal necessary: they can rot in hell. Or better yet, become victims themselves for the next serial-killer-rapist-mutilator whose life they think is so fucking sacred.


Bike Bubba said...

You know, just as certainly as you can't give an executed man his life back, you can't give a man his years in jail back, either. Will pray that someone gets religion your way and mine about the critical issue of justice here--it's obviously on the back burner.

Brian said...

Either you're OK with the state having the right to kill people in cold blood, or you aren't. Either position is philosophically defensible. But don't tell me you're opposed to capital punishment on principle if you're willing to make exceptions for the particularly heinous case.

(I think) I understand what you're saying here to be: you'd much prefer a legislative repeal, abstracted from any particular case, to the case-by-case undermining of the death penalty regime on this point or that.

(If I've mischaracerized your position here, please let me know.)

That's fine in principle, but the political reality is that every time someone tries to repeal the death penalty, particularly heinous cases are used to characterize that position (and the people who advocate for it) as soft on "very worst of the worst criminals in our midst."

The reality is that judicial reform usually comes from the judiciary. As does most anything that is "right" but politically difficult. The judiciary is (or ought to be) insulated from the political process for this very reason.

More to the point...if you really are opposed to the death penalty on principle, why do you care how it is ultimately abolished? If that's really the moral high ground (and I happen to think that it is), isn't undermining the death penalty at every opportunity justified?

Mr. D said...

More to the point...if you really are opposed to the death penalty on principle, why do you care how it is ultimately abolished?

Gino can answer that for himself, but I'd say this, as someone who has come to oppose the death penalty over time -- the reason it matters is that if a change is made in an arbitrary manner, or in ways that seem unfair, it undermines the legitimacy of the change and the chance that the change will come to be accepted over time. The "moral high ground," however you define it, is hard to hold via "by any means necessary" tactics.

The obvious example of this process is gay marriage. What we are seeing is an increasingly rapid process in which gay marriage is gaining societal acceptance. How it is done makes a big difference, though. Two examples -- in California, you have the spectacle of a federal judge on the 9th Circuit who is attempting to subvert an amendment to the state constitution in order to impose gay marriage. In New York, we've just seen a legislature pass legislation and a governor that signed gay marriage into law. What's the better way to do it?

Operationally, the result is the same, but the chances of gay marriage surviving is far greater in New York than it is in California, because the representatives of the people have adopted the cause, rather than having it imposed by judicial fiat. There's an excellent chance that the federal judge who overturned Prop 8 will get overruled down the line, and then the battle starts all over again.

Bike Bubba said...

Count me as all for the death penalty when it's for aggravated murder with a couple of clear witnesses--which can be circumstantial evidence, of course. It's Biblical (Genesis 9:6) and the recidivism rate can't be beat--and there's clear evidence that indicates that it deters crime, about 18 murders for every murderer executed.

The trick is ya just gotta do it right. None of these "one witness" things, the witness being on crack, and such.

Gino said...

Brian: i struggle between my emotions and my reasonings.
i do not oppose death as much as i oppose the govt having the power to dish it.

i would have been OK if Richard Ramirez was left in a room with some of his victims' families while the guard on duty suffered hearing loss.

sometimes death is appropriate justice, but i fear the corrupting influence of govt and politics to dish honest/fair justice when it comes to individual cases.

if CA had an issue with potentially innocent folks being put down, i might see agreement with some of the more stupider reasonings the courts have allowed, (like sterile needles, or safety of the death drug)all for the greater good. but i see no good, not even a lesser good, in the life of richard ramirez, rodney alcala et al.

when the people see that the justice system is too often not serious, you can expect vendetta eventually to take it place. and much of the judicial debate surrounding death in CA has given up on serious, gone beyond jokish and setteled in the realm of bat-shit-crazy.

and these are supposed to be the 'smart' people. maybe its time to hold court procedings in wal*mart instead.

Brian said...

Fair enough. I definitely think that recognizing some people deserve to die and not being willing to let the state have that power are not mutually exclusive positions. I certainly hold them both, from time to time.

Dithering over methods of execution is pretty absurd. If the real goal was a quick and painless execution, it would be a close-range, high-caliber bullet to the back of the skull, every time. Having euthanized no small number of small mammals in my career, I think death by injection or gas is highly overrated as a "humane" means.

The reality is that it is just less messy.

Gino said...

i've advocated a single .45 shot to the back of the head in an open feild, or prison yard. (maybe just walk him to the shower?) no mess to clean up, and it gets the point across.

Bike Bubba said...

Gino, the .45 solution is interesting and cheap, but my objection to it is simple; do you want to live next door to the guy who kills people for a living? Western societies have long known that it's tremendously damaging for the guy who pulls the trigger to know he's the one who has killed someone, even a guilty man.

That said, sign me up to do the deed for Ramirez. I'll provide the gun and ammo.

Gino said...

bubba, thats mighty selfless of you to take that risk.

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