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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Capital Punishment Deterrent

Not the only reason, but this article just sums up why I could never support the death penalty.

34 Comments:

Blogger Charlie Hall said...

Agreed.

Two different rabbis have independently advised me that while the secular legal system in the US is sufficiently fair in most respects for Jews to participate in it (and specically, that I could serve on a jury if called), that they would not extend that evaluation to the treatment of capital cases.

Fortunately, we do not have a death penalty in New York State at the moment. And here in the Bronx, the D.A. has stated that he will never ask for a death sentence, ever. (He still keeps getting re-elected.)

This also shows that the Torah was correct in its limiting the admissibility of self-incriminating statements. People will confess to all kinds of things they didn't do when confronted by aggressive interrogators.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK,if you've been raped and watched your child strangled to death in front of your eyes and you still don't support the death penalty then I'll take your words seriously.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OM,

"Never" is a strong word. Would you have supported the death penalty for the Nazi war criminals tried at Nuremberg, for example? How about for Hitler, had they captured him alive? I suspect you believe that the death penalty is appropriate under at least some circumstances.

9:54 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I know that "never" is a strong word. Still, I don't see myself ever supporting capital punishment.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

OK,if you've been raped and watched your child strangled to death in front of your eyes and you still don't support the death penalty then I'll take your words seriously.

Good point. We should base our laws exclsuively on the perspective of families of victims of heinous crimes.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krum: I think his/her point was that one's perspective on the death penalty can change drastically when one has personal contact with a crime. Don't worry, Dukakis messed this up too.

"The issue of capital punishment came up in the October 13, 1988 debate between the two presidential nominees. Bernard Shaw, the moderator of the debate, asked Dukakis, "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis [his wife] were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?" Dukakis replied coolly, "No, I don't, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life," and explained his stance. . . . Many observers felt Dukakis' answer lacked the normal emotions one would expect of a person discussing a loved one's rape and death. Many — including the candidate himself — believe that this, in part, cost Dukakis the election, as his poll numbers dropped from 49% to 42% nationally that night."

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Somewhat Anonymous said...

I'm generally pro-death penalty, but I can see (and agree to a large extent) objections based on the possibility of mistake. However, I think that when there is something approaching absolute proof of guilt (Video, DNA evidence, etc.) the death penalty should be applied.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous jdub said...

"Fortunately, we do not have a death penalty in New York State at the moment. And here in the Bronx, the D.A. has stated that he will never ask for a death sentence, ever. (He still keeps getting re-elected.)"

Umm, yes you do. That's one of the reasons Pataki beat Cuomo. There is a death penalty in NY.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Somewhat Anonymous said...

Jdub - The Court of Appeals struck down the statute a year or so ago. No one is really moving to reinstate it so quickly.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

I think it's fascinating that a forum full of frum people can sit around discussing how they will never support the death penalty. Checked the Bible lately?

5:13 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...



I think it's fascinating that a forum full of frum people can sit around discussing how they will never support the death penalty. Checked the Bible lately?


Well, you have a point. I will rephrase, that I mean never, as long as we are discussing the non-Jewish, pre-Messianic court system. Also, let's not ignore the fact that it is very difficult to employ capital punishment under Jewish Law.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

Ortho:
We agree on capital punishment-I don't know you-but someone who knows us both told me that you're in a younger generation than I-thus I have believed that since before you were born.
Ortho I can agree with you.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

OM- Would you have supported the death penalty for Hitler? Don't duck the question.

7:53 PM  
Blogger DAG said...

We make choices with people's lives all the time in a democracy...how many die in car accidents because we have a July 4th Holiday, how many die from electrocution. We could live without legal Holidays and electricity. But we made the decision that we are willing to allow a certain number of deaths to lead better lives.

The death penalty is no different. As with cars and electricity, we must make the process as safe as possible...all death row inmates SHOULD be allowed a DNA appeal if that information could change the evidence in their favor.

But if we believe (and I do) that the death penalty when truly enforced (and it is NOT enforced today) IS a deterent, the unfortunate fact that we may inadvertantly execute an innocent shouldn't stop us.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'Checked the Bible lately?'

Yes. If New York State passes a death penalty law that requires two witnesses to warn the perpetrator immediately before the crime is committed, and to be the ones to carry out the execution, and also forbids self-incriminating confessions, I'll consider supporting it.

'eath penalty for Hitler? Don't duck the question. '

I would have shot the rodef.

'e believe (and I do) that the death penalty when truly enforced (and it is NOT enforced today) IS a deterent'

There is precious little empirical evidence of that. Within the US, the states with the lowest crime rates mostly don't have a death penalty, or never use it (New Hampshire). Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state, hasn't executed anyone in over a century and a half, yet it has a low violent crime rate. Canada and most European countries have no death penalty and much lower rates of violent crime than the US.

'the unfortunate fact that we may inadvertantly execute an innocent shouldn't stop us. '

And if the innocent person being executed were your mother would you feel the same way? Don't duck the question.

11:28 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka
Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

OM- Would you have supported the death penalty for Hitler? Don't duck the question.


Yes.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Somewhat Anonymous said...

Hitler would not be a Rodef if he was captured and behind bars - I do believe you ducked the question?! ;-)

The Hitler question is just a way of getting at whether your opposition to the death penalty is about possibly killing the wrong person (not something to be dismissed easily, even if you believe its a risk worth taking) or about a belief that executions are in and of themselves wrong, even if the party in question (Hitler, Timothy McVeigh, Osama Bin Laden, etc.) is unquestionably guilty of horrific crimes?

Who here thinks Israel shouldn't have executed Eichmann?

11:46 PM  
Anonymous me said...

Charlie hall.- A Gentile may incriminate himself. The chinuch has a chidush that the reason a person cannot incriminate himself is because "אדם קרוב אצל עצמו"
"odom karov aitzel otzmo".
But since a relative may testify against a Gentile, the Gentile is therefore permitted to incrimaninate himslef.

Jak blak is correct. If the Torah tells us. "and they shall see and they shall fear and they shall not sin again." We must believe it to be true. Typically speaking places like Saudi Arabia which have a capital drug law and public beheadings have a much smaller drug problem, then countries like America which have liberal judges, a guaranteed appeal, minimum 10 years on death row before the possiblity of execution, non-public executions, etc.

Momof4- A Gentile court is required to enforce the 7 noahide laws punishable by death. According to some commentaries, that is the reason Shimon and Levi Rightfully slew the inhabitants of Shechem, because they were obligated to judge Chamor and did not. The requirements for a Gentile court are much more lenient than a Yiddishe one. Aydus can be one person, even a woman or relative, hasra-a is not necessary etc. Yes, what can I do, it seems G-d is a racist.
Charlie hall- The places that you identify have a different lifestyle than NY or California. Most of Europe is more conservative than America. The unbridled freedom to anything you want with no responsibility is particularly American and we while we benefit from it we suffer from it as well.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Somewhat Anonymous said...

Most of Europe is more conservative that America? I'd be interested to know (seriously) what definition of conservative you are using. When it comes to religious affiliation and seriousness and general modesty/prudishness, etc. I can't imagine that the U.S. isn't the most, if not one of the most conservative western countries (thank you christian right).

2:05 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'Typically speaking places like Saudi Arabia which have a capital drug law and public beheadings have a much smaller drug problem'

If you really see Saudi Arabia as a model of justice, I feel sorry for you.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous charliehall said...

'some commentaries, that is the reason Shimon and Levi Rightfully slew the inhabitants of Shechem'

R'Hirsch says of that incident, "There was no justification."

12:31 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'A Gentile court is required to enforce the 7 noahide laws punishable by death. '

Source, please?

Are you really saying that the gentile courts must institute a death penalty for larceny?

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Somewhat Anonymous said...

"'Typically speaking places like Saudi Arabia which have a capital drug law and public beheadings have a much smaller drug problem'

If you really see Saudi Arabia as a model of justice, I feel sorry for you."

He was just bringing an example of capital punishment being a deterrent, not advocating Saudi policies.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

OU official spokesman Nathan Diament supported a death penalty moratorium, but not abolition, in 2001:

http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=10

1:35 AM  
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