17 votes

Daniel Lewis Lee executed after U.S. Supreme Court clears the way for first federal execution in seventeen years

22 comments

  1. [21]
    mrbig
    Link
    The United States is so weird. How many developed nations have capital punishment for crimes other than treason and espionage? That’s some 19th century shit. My argument against capital punishment...

    The United States is so weird. How many developed nations have capital punishment for crimes other than treason and espionage? That’s some 19th century shit.

    My argument against capital punishment is non emotional and requires no empathy: given that any justice system is by definition susceptible to errors, it’s unreasonable to put forth punishments that are entirely irreversible.

    26 votes
    1. [5]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      That’s why I don’t support the death penalty in practice. In theory, I’m fine with executing someone like Dennis Rader or Ted Bundy. Some people commit crimes so heinous that there is no chance at...

      My argument against capital punishment is non emotional and requires no empathy: given that any justice system is by definition susceptible to errors, it’s unreasonable to put forth punishments that are entirely irreversible.

      That’s why I don’t support the death penalty in practice.

      In theory, I’m fine with executing someone like Dennis Rader or Ted Bundy. Some people commit crimes so heinous that there is no chance at rehabilitation. I think the amount of people who fall into this category is extremely small, but they do exist.

      But the amount errors that we constantly hear about and overturned cases because of new evidence or testing methods developed over time mean that countless people are needlessly put to death for a crime they did not commit.

      If you throw someone in jail for 30 years for a crime they did not commit, you can at least let them out of jail if they are proven innocent. You can’t un-execute someone if you find out later that they were innocent.

      11 votes
      1. [4]
        ohyran
        Link Parent
        Still cheaper to keep them in prison. The value of them being dead is just "there is no chance they escape" which is pretty low nowadays anyway. Plus they are pretty valuable if they can either be...

        Still cheaper to keep them in prison. The value of them being dead is just "there is no chance they escape" which is pretty low nowadays anyway.

        Plus they are pretty valuable if they can either be coerced or are somewhat capable/intelligent enough to understand that value since they can provide a lot of insight in to that certain little group of people (like Ed Kemper)

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          I think most people that want capital punishment enjoy feeling on the side of power. You’re a law abiding citizen? You can vote to kill people that wrong you and your society. It’s not about...

          I think most people that want capital punishment enjoy feeling on the side of power. You’re a law abiding citizen? You can vote to kill people that wrong you and your society. It’s not about people escaping or what’s right or wrong for these people.

          My dad is a lawyer that’s been fighting the death penalty in the US for decades. Growing up a surprising number of people challenged me on my adopted beliefs on capital punishment. Not a single argument wasn’t based in emotion. They all wanted the ability to unleash their bloodthirst should their family member get murdered.

          11 votes
          1. JXM
            Link Parent
            What arguments did you hear? Just curious. To reiterate, I support it in theory. The US has shown again and again that we have a bias, broken justice system where people are constantly shown to be...

            What arguments did you hear? Just curious.

            To reiterate, I support it in theory. The US has shown again and again that we have a bias, broken justice system where people are constantly shown to be innocent decades after the fact. It’s not something that we should ever implement.

            2 votes
          2. ohyran
            Link Parent
            Well yes but that is a very very human emotion. I mean I can be all "the death penalty is costly, meaningless, creates problems for law-abiding citizens and creates a massive risk for abuse" at...

            Well yes but that is a very very human emotion. I mean I can be all "the death penalty is costly, meaningless, creates problems for law-abiding citizens and creates a massive risk for abuse" at the same time I, and I think most people, are still thinking that they should have flung Ted Bundy into a blender slowly and bit by bit instead.
            Our ability to empathize with the victims and other humans is also part of our ability to want revenge.

            Thats why certain tools should be denied us that can be too quick. God its early morning here and I can't remember the name of that Australian comedian who did that famous thing about guns - which ends in his suggestions that breach loaded flintlocks are awesome because they give you plenty of time to calm down while loading them.

            1 vote
    2. [5]
      Silbern
      Link Parent
      Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore? Not to mention that most American states either don't have the death penalty at all or haven't exercized it in an extremely long time. In fact, only 7 states...

      Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore? Not to mention that most American states either don't have the death penalty at all or haven't exercized it in an extremely long time. In fact, only 7 states even carried out any executions in 2019, and at a federal level, this is the first one in almost two decades.

      9 votes
      1. [4]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        That's still too much. And shame on you Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore!

        That's still too much.

        And shame on you Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore!

        10 votes
        1. [3]
          mintysaurus
          Link Parent
          For what it's worth, there hasn't been an execution in South Korea since 1997.

          For what it's worth, there hasn't been an execution in South Korea since 1997.

          6 votes
          1. [2]
            Silbern
            Link Parent
            Mmm, and it's the same way for many states in the US that theoretically have the death penalty. New Hampshire last executed a person in 1939 for god's sake. While it'd be better if they weren't on...

            Mmm, and it's the same way for many states in the US that theoretically have the death penalty. New Hampshire last executed a person in 1939 for god's sake. While it'd be better if they weren't on the books at all, and it's nothing personal to OP, it bugs me to no end when people dig up something like this that's specific to only a few states, or hasn't been used in literal decades, and then be all "damn, why are Americans the only people in the world that do this"?

            4 votes
            1. ohyran
              Link Parent
              I guess its because from an outsiders perspective the US is one country and the system of states is translated into whatever local system is used where the outsider is from. I mean its sound dumb,...

              I guess its because from an outsiders perspective the US is one country and the system of states is translated into whatever local system is used where the outsider is from.
              I mean its sound dumb, but me being 40+ still has this same mental slip at times too. So thank you for bringing this up because its always relevant to be reminded about stuff like this. Plus it reminds us all that while everything is just the same everywhere (we're all the same asshat who scratch their arses in the morning and farts in bed at night no matter what continent, country or ethnic group we're from) - there are always local differences that makes whats simple in one country way more complex in another.

              At the same time one of the arguments against the death penalty is that it gives undue power to a government that can be abused or activated at any time. The fact that my country have it written in to the base laws that no one under no circumstance can be executed by the state for (partly) that reasons is also, for example, one of the reasons employing quarantines is close to impossible here. (in those very same laws are strict laws against the states ability to restrict free movement and right to assembly, first of may here was kind of adorable - first time in about 100 years where there where no protests or massive marches, everyone just went "well we CAN but we choose not to"))

              That New Hampshire has that hidden ability to kill its citizens if the laws becomes strict enough to allow it is still a risk and an argument in a way.

              1 vote
    3. [6]
      viridian
      Link Parent
      The flaw in your argument is that decades of your life wasted in prison is also irreversible. If your case is against irreversible punishment as opposed to against the death penalty, you'll end up...

      The flaw in your argument is that decades of your life wasted in prison is also irreversible. If your case is against irreversible punishment as opposed to against the death penalty, you'll end up arguing against punitive measures as a whole.

      There is no getting around blackstone's ratio. Some innocents will suffer, and some criminals will walk.

      aside: In researching Blackstone's ratio I came across a number of truly scary figures. Otto von Bismarck and Pol Pot were comfortable with ratios of 10:1, former vice President Dick Cheney was comfortable with 1:3 w.r.t. CIA torture, and an overwhelming majority of the American public is comfortable with at least a 1:10 ratio of innocents imprisoned per guilty persons walking free.

      8 votes
      1. [5]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        You should notice that I used the expression "entirely irreversible" to avoid this very objection. Yes, you cannot restitute years lost incarcerated, but at least you can prevent that person from...

        You should notice that I used the expression "entirely irreversible" to avoid this very objection. Yes, you cannot restitute years lost incarcerated, but at least you can prevent that person from fulfilling the rest of the sentence. The same is not true about the death penalty: you cannot restitute part of a life.

        There are certainly other possible objections, but I believe the definitive character of capital punishment can probably be reformulated to sufficiently address them.

        Additionally, arguing against punitive measures as a whole is something I would be very glad to do.

        18 votes
        1. [4]
          viridian
          Link Parent
          Right, I just don't agree that entirely irreversible is a thing of any substance. I have someone close to me doing 40 years. By the time he gets out, he will have spent twice as much of his life...

          Right, I just don't agree that entirely irreversible is a thing of any substance. I have someone close to me doing 40 years. By the time he gets out, he will have spent twice as much of his life in prison as he has spent outside of it. The loss of most of your life is, in my eyes, entirely irreversible. If someone gets retroactively found innocent 45 years into a 50 year sentence, it's of almost zero practical moral consequence. I fail to see the difference in substance in taking away 80% of someone's adult life, and then tossing them out onto the street with as a senior citizen no skills, and just killing them.

          6 votes
          1. ohyran
            Link Parent
            Yeah but if that person doing a 40 year stint is found innocent tomorrow they will be able to enjoy that. If they are executed tonight, they wont. Thats the core of the argument.

            Yeah but if that person doing a 40 year stint is found innocent tomorrow they will be able to enjoy that. If they are executed tonight, they wont. Thats the core of the argument.

            12 votes
          2. [2]
            mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            It's hard to measure the subjective, existential, and psychological burden of incarceration. What I can do is discuss possibility. Scenario 1: If a person is sentenced to death and this sentence...

            It's hard to measure the subjective, existential, and psychological burden of incarceration.

            What I can do is discuss possibility.

            • Scenario 1: If a person is sentenced to death and this sentence is carried out, there is no possible course of action that might restitute the value subtracted (their life), either partially or in full, under any judicial system in the world.
            • Scenario 2: If a person is sentenced to incarceration, in many judicial systems there are multiple possible courses of action that might "restitute" the value subtracted (non-incarcerated lifetime) by altering or preventing the enforcement of the original sentence.

            In the second scenario, simplifying for the sake of argument, two things can occur: (1) the suddenly freed individual may enjoy their remaining years, or (2) the suddenly freed individual may not enjoy their remaining years. You presented an example of the latter, but I don't see why the former cannot happen as well.

            In the outcome of the first scenario, there is no individual at all, and therefore no chance for the best outcome (2.1) or the middle one (2.2)

            Possible objection:

            Scenario 1 is preferable given the possibility of 2.2

            6 votes
            1. patience_limited
              Link Parent
              Scenario One also subtracts the potential value of a person's life and accomplishments in prison. While Nelson Mandela or Andrei Sakharov might be extreme examples of people who suffered lengthy...

              Scenario One also subtracts the potential value of a person's life and accomplishments in prison. While Nelson Mandela or Andrei Sakharov might be extreme examples of people who suffered lengthy incarcerations, most prisoners have families, including children, to whom they're important. Some life inmates have become model jail citizens, leading other prisoners to reform.

              It's impossible to discount the value of continued life over state-mediated death.

              2 votes
    4. [4]
      gpl
      Link Parent
      It’s 19th century shit even if it’s for treason and espionage, and plenty of countries have those provisions. Unfortunately capital punishment isn’t just another US-only oddity.

      It’s 19th century shit even if it’s for treason and espionage, and plenty of countries have those provisions. Unfortunately capital punishment isn’t just another US-only oddity.

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        Treason and espionage have all sorts of laws and history that relate to the laws of war so I kinda think of it as a separate thing.

        Treason and espionage have all sorts of laws and history that relate to the laws of war so I kinda think of it as a separate thing.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          gpl
          Link Parent
          You’re certainly right that those laws have their own unique history, but fundamentally many states still claim the right to legally kill their own citizens (and further, to determine what is...

          You’re certainly right that those laws have their own unique history, but fundamentally many states still claim the right to legally kill their own citizens (and further, to determine what is acceptable cause for killing their own citizens). I personally don’t think that any state should be able to claim that kind of authority.

          1 vote
          1. mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            There are certainly situations in which killing must not only be allowed but constitutes a moral imperative. Like yourself, I don’t think capital punishment is usually in that group.

            There are certainly situations in which killing must not only be allowed but constitutes a moral imperative. Like yourself, I don’t think capital punishment is usually in that group.

            1 vote
  2. dubteedub
    Link
    I would love if this became a real debate again. I think it could certainly be argued that these executions are cruel and unusual, particular this specific execution of Daniel Lewis Lee. For those...

    Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reiterated in one dissent something he has said before: he thinks it's time for the court to revisit the constitutionality of the death penalty.

    I would love if this became a real debate again. I think it could certainly be argued that these executions are cruel and unusual, particular this specific execution of Daniel Lewis Lee.

    For those unaware, Lee was explicitly not allowed to be given a sedative due to federal order for this execution.

    Lee was scheduled to receive a lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital at 4 p.m. Monday, but a federal judge's order prevented the execution.

    Lee also was forced to stay strapped to the execution table for several hours before he was executed early this morning.

    Lee's attorney, Ruth Friedman, denounced the government's action as "reckless and relentless," saying that her client remained strapped to the gurney for hours as the last legal challenges played out over night.

    John Oliver has also done a great piece on his show Last Week Tonight on Lethal Injections and the insane process some states go through to obtain the lethal injection drug cocktails that are used to kill these people. I highly recommend it as a watch.

    6 votes