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RE: [humanism-174] Death Penalty, some info

From: user 9.
Sent on: Sunday, June 21, 2009 7:53 AM
Jakar, I have seen the studies about inflicting pain and I was not totally suprised. There is an element in many people thats hidden and when its sanctioned it rears its ugly head. Is it in all of us?  I dont know that answer but many would say yes. I have read conflicting data on whether capital punishment is a deterent so Im not sure if it changes my position. I think most of us feel emotional outrage at murder especially in the case of someone like BTK who enjoyed torturing his victims before ending their lives. I try to rise above my initial reaction and reason out whether capital punishment is justified if it works etc. I just dont feel comfortable intellectually or emotionally with it. The idea of setting a date and time for execution seems to me to be torture as well. I found your post gave me much food for thought however. Randall
---- Jakar <[address removed]> wrote: 
> Wise attitude, Randall.
> Information which may be interesting/useful, and a few points to ponder.
> I happened to be studying psychology in the 70's when the report on Philip
> Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment was released (description below), it
> is consistent with Stanley Milgrams experiment 10 years earlier that showed
> that students would apply an electrical charge to test subjects who gave a
> wrong answer to questions.  The test subjects were actually cohorts who
> would pretend pain, and the students applying the charge were the actual
> subjects of the test.  In nearly all cases, as long as an authority figure
> told the student to keep increasing the charge, even to lethal levels, the
> student would continue.  The students could have stopped any time and a few
> did, but the rest would have killed as long as responsibility could be
> placed on an authority figure.  That combined with Zimbardo's experiment,
> shows how even a supposedly neutral prison environment can degrade to
> cruelty and violence by the guards and pyshological harm to the prisoners.
> From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
> 	The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological
> effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The experiment was conducted
> in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo
> at Stanford University. Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70
> to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in
> the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Those selected were chosen
> for their lack of psychological issues, crime history, and medical
> disabilities, in order to obtain a representative sample. Roles were
> assigned based on a coin toss.[1]
> 	Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond
> the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and
> psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to
> have exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were
> emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early.
> After being confronted by Christina Maslach, a graduate student in
> psychology whom he was dating,[2] and realizing that he had been passively
> allowing unethical acts to be performed under his direct supervision,
> Zimbardo concluded that both prisoners and guards had become too grossly
> absorbed in their roles and terminated the experiment after six days.[3]
> 2,500 years ago the Buddha taught:
>  For hatred does not cease by hatred at any
>  time: hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.
> (Dhammapada, chapter 1, verse 5))
> Which correlates with Nietzsche's statement about dragons.
> Most crime is due to some psychological or physical dysfunction (others are
> usually value/ethics dysfunctions combined with economics).  Where there are
> effective treatments the convicts might be treated and released, but
> monitored.  Those who cannot be helped have to be locked up for the
> protection of the innocent and good of society.  Some prisons have been set
> up as treatment centers rather than cages, and more of those with
> untreatable problems are going to mental institutions (that's another
> story).  However, American culture is still strongly influenced by the Bible
> and there is desire for punishment (eye for eye - although that is old
> Jewish law and contrary to the teachings of Jesus).
> Where rights are concerned, each society decides what rights are granted and
> denied (for the U.S. by Congress or popular vote).  Those who cannot or will
> not abide by the laws must necessarily lose some rights (generally liberty
> and the pursuit of happiness, sometimes life) through due process.  Any
> penalty should be appropriate for the crime (in some places they cut off a
> hand of a thief).
> Another consideration for punishment, especially the death penalty, is
> deterrence: does the death penalty reduce the number of murders?  Yes, it
> does...
> 	Using a panel data set of over 3,000 counties from 1977 to 1996,
> Professors Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul R. Rubin, and Joanna M. Shepherd of Emory
> University found that each execution, on average, results in 18 fewer
> murders.[17] Using state-level panel data from 1960 to 2000, Professors
> Dezhbakhsh and Shepherd were able to compare the relationship between
> executions and murder incidents before, during, and after the U.S. Supreme
> Court's death penalty moratorium.[18] They found that executions had a
> highly significant negative relationship with murder incidents.
> Additionally, the implementation of state moratoria is associated with the
> increased incidence of murders.
> (http://www.herita...­)
> The full report states that each execution can save three lives, yet even if
> it were only one it would be justifiable (at a social level independent of
> laws and rights).
> That brings up the necessity of absolute certainty in having the correct
> person, and why the process can take as long and cost as much as it does.  
> One reason the legal system is complicated and slow is that not only guilt
> or innocence must be determined, but usually the degree of responsibility
> (mitigating factors, intentional or accidental, etc.), the actual
> consequences, the laws that apply, court cases as precedents, and so on.
> Whether we approve or not, the fact is that until we can essentially prevent
> crime, espcially murder (through economics, education, etc.), there is a
> necessity to use whatever means we have to control it.  Since prisons as
> punishment are ineffective, they basically serve as a means of quarantine,
> and therefore it is probably in society's interest to modify or replace
> them, as far as possible, with centers for education/training/t­reatment/work
> or psychiatric facilities.
> In an episode of Babylon 5, a doctor had to kill psychopath to save the life
> of her daughter.  At a hearing she was cleared of charges and someone said
> she did the right thing.  She responded: "I did the 'necessary' thing.  That
> is not always the same as the right thing."
> Without rules and consequences there is no order and justice.  Without order
> and justice there in no basis for the security required for cooperation.
> Without cooperation there is no exchange of services or production and,
> therefore, no society.  We cannot stop crime with love alone, but we do not
> have to hate the criminals to impose consequences and protect society; nor
> should we treat them cruely for that makes them worse; we need to reason
> through and do the appropriate thing within the law, which means sometimes
> doing the necessary thing.
> Jakar
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of
> Randall Tiedman
> Sent: Saturday, June 20,[masked]:56 PM
> To: [address removed]
> Subject: Re: [humanism-174] Death Penalty
> I have been against the death penalty not because of concern for the person
> who committed the crime but for what it says about me. Its the same for
> torture or hard labor. To quote Nietzsche "he who hunts dragons becomes a
> dragon himself" and I prefer to think of myself in kinder terms. I dont
> think they should live a life of comfort however. When I have watched what
> prison life is like on TV I would prefer to exit life as soon as possible by
> my own hand....Randall
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