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Death PenaltyIn view of a recent execution by firing squad here in Utah and the...

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted June 23, 2010 at 8:22 AM via web

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Death Penalty

In view of a recent execution by firing squad here in Utah and the extensive publicity surrounding it, I'd like to know your beliefs and views on the subject of the death penalty, its constitutionality, and your stand morally and ethically. 

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 23, 2010 at 2:48 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a tough question...one that I believe should be dealt with on a case by case basis.  There could never be a blanket policy on death penalty since there are often so many different circumstances to consider.  The most important one, perhaps, is the issue of guilt.  It would be awful to put someone to death who was accused and found guilty in a court of law only to find out afterward with new evidence or improved forensics techniques that the person was innocent after all.  Ethically, if someone intentionally kills another person, he or she should certainly be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  Morally, I have a problem judging someone on this earth...however, courts of law and government are established and manned by elected officials who have been called to that line of work and are experts in their fields in order to serve the purpose of judge and law enforcement.  It would also be very difficult for me to forgive someone for murdering a loved one even though I know that in order to move from anger, depression, and sadness over the loss of someone dear, one must forgive the people and try to forget the circumstances.  What one knows and what one does are often two different things when imperfect human emotions are involved.

What are your opinions?  How did the execution in Utah effect you?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 23, 2010 at 3:26 PM (Answer #3)

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I'm all for the death penalty, though I'm not insensitive to the issues against it (incorrect verdicts, for example).  I'm with you, #2; I may think I'd like to be the "boss of the world," but I would never want to make a sole judgment which was responsible for someone's death.  But that's why created an impartial, "blind" judicial system.  In a court of law, as part of a jury, though, I would have no problem voting guilty for a crime punishable by death. Because it's a human convention, it is bound to be flawed; however, it's what we have.

It seems to me the bigger issue is that we haven't clearly defined, as a society, the purpose of the prison system.  If it is to rehabilitate, we've done a lousy job of it and the death penalty does not seem reasonable.  If it is to punish, then the death penalty suddenly seems appropriate for those offenses we've deemed most heinous.  Instead, it seems as though we're floating somewhere in the middle--we would rather everyone get rehabilitated, but if it strikes us emotionally as being too awful we're content to punish by death. As long as it isn't too painful.

Until we come to grips with this dilemma, we're likely to see this as a topic of discussion for years to come. 

 

Lori Steinbach

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted June 23, 2010 at 3:36 PM (Answer #4)

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Both sides of this issue (supporters of the death penalty and those who oppose it) make some valid points. On one hand, most major religions have a prohibition against "murder" and, if we define murder as the tasking of a life, then the death penalty is murder making it morally wrong. On the other hand, if we follow this narrow of a definition, then we must also come to the conclusion that war is morally wrong, and wars have been fought in the name of the same gods who decry the act of murder. Therefore, the moral argument is a difficult one to make as it is something that is dependent more on an individual's personal view than on any codified moral law.

Constitutionally, the 8th ammendment forbids "cruel and unusual punishment" but, once again, it comes down to a question of how one defines cruel and unusual. In fact, throughout the course of history, the parameters of what is and is not allowable punishment under the 8th ammendment have changed to reflect the times under which we were living in America.

To return to your original question, for the most part, I oppose the death penalty. I also oppose war. However, I do feel that there are certain situations under which the "killing" of another human being can be defended - such as self defense. The death penalty is not self defense. It is retribution and retaliation and it has not consistently been statistically proven to act as an actual deterrent.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 23, 2010 at 4:04 PM (Answer #5)

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I am not against the idea that some crimes and situations call for the death penalty.  I believe that's true.  But I cannot conceive of a legal system that can be administered equally and fairly, nor do I believe our present system has nearly the adequate safeguards necessary to call the death penalty justice.  It's much more expensive than life imprisonment (over $2 million per case on average) because of the legal costs involved, and studies have suggested that it does little to deter crime.  States that have the death penalty actually tend to have more violent crime, once again suggesting there is little deterrent effect.

What's more, we have and will continue to put innocent people to death by mistake from time to time.  What do we do, apologize?

I just believe it's more trouble and injustice than it's worth, and we should go the way of Western Europe and ban it altogether.

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted June 23, 2010 at 6:24 PM (Answer #6)

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I agree with the previous posters--it costs more, the potential for abuse and mistakes is too great, it is not a deterent. On top of all this, someone has to be the executioner. And while I know these people choose that job, I think it is just too heavy of a burden to place on someone.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 23, 2010 at 10:53 PM (Answer #7)

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The previous posts have explored the idea in a very thorough fashion.  I think that this might be an issue where a "perfect" solution is not going to be entirely present.  I think that part of this reflects on what the nature of justice is and what government's role in this should be.  I am travelling abroad right now, and some of the international reaction I am getting from Friday's execution is the perception of America as establishing justice with a "Wild West Mentality" and that justice as used with the death penalty is something carved out of "vengeance."  It is a challenge for us to have to overcome such a perception.  Some might argue that there is no need for us to overcome such a perception, but regardless of what one says, the issue of the death penalty does reflect a difference in values in our own country as what justice means and what government's role should be in getting it.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 24, 2010 at 1:15 AM (Answer #8)

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I can't be in favour of the death penalty - it puts us as humans in the position of being God and this is a role I do not think it is fair for anyone to assume. Morally it makes us just as bad as the killer as we are choosing to kill them. Two wrongs just don't make a right, I am afraid! In addition, I do have to add that the whole recent case is disturbing for many reasons but above all for the length of time that the prisoner was kept on death row. That is just cruelty and inexcusable in a "civilised" nation.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted June 24, 2010 at 3:42 AM (Answer #9)

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Thou shalt not kill?

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:13 AM (Answer #10)

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This is a tough question...one that I believe should be dealt with on a case by case basis.  There could never be a blanket policy on death penalty since there are often so many different circumstances to consider.  The most important one, perhaps, is the issue of guilt.  It would be awful to put someone to death who was accused and found guilty in a court of law only to find out afterward with new evidence or improved forensics techniques that the person was innocent after all.  Ethically, if someone intentionally kills another person, he or she should certainly be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  Morally, I have a problem judging someone on this earth...however, courts of law and government are established and manned by elected officials who have been called to that line of work and are experts in their fields in order to serve the purpose of judge and law enforcement.  It would also be very difficult for me to forgive someone for murdering a loved one even though I know that in order to move from anger, depression, and sadness over the loss of someone dear, one must forgive the people and try to forget the circumstances.  What one knows and what one does are often two different things when imperfect human emotions are involved.

What are your opinions?  How did the execution in Utah effect you?

  The Lord said, "Vengeance is mine and I will repay!"  So He knows who is guilty and who isn't.  Our courts of law and our legal system are not infallible and many times throughout history, men and women have been found guilty of crimes they didn't commit.  It's very, very sad when that happens and someone is going to have to pay for that lapse of judgement or deliberate cruelty.  I don't know how I'd feel toward the perpetrator if I'd had a loved one murdered.  I'd hope I didn't have a heart filled with hatred and a vengeful, vindictive spirit!  I would hope they would punished for it in this life, but I'd know The Lord would punish them in the next.  You're right--it's a tough question.  To say I was glad they executed that man here in Utah wouldn't be true.  It was more like pity for him than anything.  The murders he committed were terrible!  To tell you the truth, I don't like to even read about murder or dwell on it because it's something I or those close to me probably will never deal with.  But to say it can't or won't happen to us . . . one can only hope it doesn't!

I hope you're a Christian because I just hit you with a whole lot of religious tenets. 

If someone takes someone else's life and spills their blood, do you think they should have theirs taken in return?  I don't feel it's our place to say. 

 

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted June 24, 2010 at 1:41 PM (Answer #11)

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The Lord said, "Vengeance is mine and I will repay!" Marbar57

1. God is good.

2. God is vengeful

3. Mutally exclusive.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 7:40 PM (Answer #12)

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My students conducted some research into the death penalty as we have been working on the theme,Breaking the Rules. We were looking into the rules and laws we would abide by, using the Ten Commandments as a guide to what could be morally or legally justified. The only commandment they upheld with out question was 'Thou shalt not kill'. Then we looked at war, which created some interesting debate.

When we got to the death penalty one young lady pulled up the statistics from Wikipedia (not the most reliable source I know) with the list of numbers people put to death in 2008 across the world. My students were stunned that a 'civilised' country like the US would feature in the top 5, between Saudi Arabia at 4th and Yemen at 6th. I couldn't explain it either...

People's Republic of China Officially not released. [46][47] At least 1700 (estimated) 2 Iran At least 388 3 Iraq At least 120 4 Saudi Arabia At least 69 5 United States 52 I cannot advocate taking a life as a punishment and I was ill-equipped to justify why such a developed nation finds itself with such a backward philosophy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

breaking the rules

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sasoru | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted August 7, 2010 at 4:30 PM (Answer #13)

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Death penalties in general, are morally wrong in any case even if anything should occurs. Even if the guilt of one person, is so enormous that nothing can comprehend its evil and fidelity to its wrongness. Human-human I am saying.

If you should ask why I thought of this. I have got used to asking questions. " Why in courts and not even in the court, even normal situations, one commits evil and yet, trying to persuade others with their egos?" It is meaningless to confess one's history and motives to do so.

But this even reflects the nature of humankind.

The guilty, when cornered, confess their motives and emotions. Most would do that, considering each has a different past and life.

Death penalties means the ignorance of an individual's past and emotions, and their lives.

Death penalties are also a cause of our superiority. Considering ourselves superior to others.

And death penalties causes hatred, calamities. Meanwhile, if one, even if so evil, are endlessly forgiven. But their pride is shattered, and what they can pay is their own morality.

To my view, it only causes more pain and thus, morally wrong.

It is the same as heroism. I have learned to believe that heroism and justice, to kill others, are not any better than sinning itself.

" Heroism in command, patriotism...How passionately I hate them." Albert Einstein's quote.

" I have a cause to die for, but I will not kill for any cause." Gandhi's quote.

 

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