The Death Penalty

  • November 18, 2012 · 10:30 AM
  • Capriccio's
The United States is the only country in the Western industrialized world that still uses the death penalty. A 2011 Gallup poll showed 61 percent of Americans favored it in cases of murder while 35 percent opposed it, which is the lowest level of support recorded by Gallup since 1972.
Proponents argue that capital punishment is a necessary deterrent to prevent future murders and a just society requires retribution for the taking of a life. Abolitionists counter that the risk of executing an innocent person precludes the use of the death penalty and that the application of the sentence is arbitrary and discriminatory. Many people take a nuanced approach between the two extremes, maintaining, like the Supreme Court did in 1976 that "certain crimes are themselves so grievous an affront to humanity that the only adequate response may be the penalty of death," but that the current system is inadequate.
We will take on one of the most debated issues in the criminal justice system by discussing the social, ethical/moral, legal, philosophical and economical factors surrounding the death penalty in America.

 

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  • Tee C.

    excellent! I had so much interest in considering all of the factors involved. I had never considered cost of maintaining death row inmates, for example.

    November 21, 2012

  • Andrea

    Hi folks, thanks for a fascinating discussion! Some info I promised: http://deathpenalty.procon.org/ has lots of information on both sides of the debate, even including some people who argue that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime! I recommend ProCon.org for a lot of controversial issues - great site.

    As far as which countries permit the death penalty: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html

    The article about death row inmates in CA opposing the ban on death penalty: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/02/local/la-me-death-penalty-20121102

    Also, I got my numbers mixed up... I said that 3000 people have been executed since 1976, but it's 1312. I was confusing it with the number of people currently on death row (3254) - sorry! So, that makes the 9 that were executed, but possibly innocent more statistically significant, I suppose. And they are: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/executed-possibly-innocent

    If there's anything else I said I'd post, let me know!

    November 18, 2012

  • Patty

    Hi Jean, I'd say it's a complex issue, so I wouldn't reply with a carved-in-stone position. I think the idea behind our discussions is to explore the complexities and challenges of,an issue like this.

    November 18, 2012

  • Jean S.

    I object to the death penalty process. Seeing people on death row in a cage like an animal for years makes me sick to my stomach. The guy that I met in Florida has been living in a cage since 1989 - that is 23 YEARS... This issue has psychological, financial, and humane aspects. I would suggest that if someone is on death row for five years after the appeals process is completed, their sentence is automatically commuted to a life sentence. On death row inmates DO NOT mingle with each other. They each stay in their own cell all but one hour for outside exercise - alone. They are treated worse than animals. CHANGE the death penalty PROCESS!

    November 17, 2012

  • Jean S.

    FOR OR AGAINST? It would be interesting to find out a count in the group on Sunday of how many are for and how many are against the death penalty... I have been in other groups where is was all one-sided.

    November 17, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Against. Retribution doesn't work for me as rationale for death. Especially when you might get it wrong. And it is a barbaric rationale not worthy of a civilized society. I also am reasonably certain that the deterrent value of the death penalty is not of much use. Is the capital crime rate really any lower in states that use of the death penalty more frequently than others?

      November 17, 2012

  • Jean S.

    Andrea - Looking at the marathon route, are you sure there will be a place for us to sit together? The cafe is right at an elbow in the route for spectators...

    November 17, 2012

    • Andrea

      I am going to get there early to reserve spots for us, but since the Cafe is near the starting point, and it begins at 7am, I hope many people will be cleared out of the area by then.

      November 17, 2012

  • Andrea

    Folks, just a heads-up that since the Marathon is this weekend, parking and public transportation might be tricky. Please see this link for street closures and parking rules: http://www.philadelphiamarathon.com/hotel-travel/travel-tips

    November 16, 2012

  • Jean S.

    I had occasion to spend two days with a death row inmate in Northern Florida. The crimes were in 1886 and he has been on Death Row since 1989. I believe that there is a moratorium on executions in Florida also. I will say that he is alive and living in horrible conditions. No heat, no air conditioning, bad food, and no money. The prison system charges $5.00 to process a $25.00 contribution. I don't know the answers for dealing with person that commit heinous crimes. Years ago in Pennsylvania the prisons made license plates. Then the unions stepped in and that was the end of that... Hard labor? Hard labor doing what??? I hope that there is a space for me on Sunday.

    November 15, 2012

    • Andrea

      That is a really interesting experience, Jean. You are at the top of the waiting list, so please plan on coming since we usually have people drop off the list the closer we get. Florida still executes, but they have only had 1 or 2 executions per year for the last few years, but they have 404 people on Death Row at the moment. You might be interested in this op-ed from a Florida judge who is arguing for abolishing the death penalty in part because of the inefficiency in Florida.

      November 15, 2012

    • Andrea

      November 15, 2012

  • Andrea

    This is the first year since 1977 that no one has been sentenced to death in North Carolina. Fluke or emerging trend? http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/11/09/2473276/no-one-sentenced-to-death-in-north.html

    November 12, 2012

  • Andrea

    An article about the latest proposition in the country about the death penalty: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57547053/despite-cost-calif-votes-to-keep-death-penalty/

    November 8, 2012

  • Bill D

    Gotta love getting an email from meetup with subject line: "You're invited to The Death Penalty" ;-)

    October 2, 2012

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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