Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Capital punishment--- A black hole

Good day to everyone,

I know that those of you who visited "Inside Xanadu" in February have been patiently waiting for my next post, and i greatly appreciate your patience. I mentioned in the last post, circumstances are such that I can not always respond as promptly as I may wish to, but I promise I will try to do so in a reasonably short time.

I have enjoyed the responses that I got from my first post. Some of them I can mention now.

--Cali in Columbia,
I appreciate your feed back. This is new to me, but I have a great deal to say. I would like to hear more from you and see what your blog is all about.
Thanks also to PF for your feeback, and yes it does make each person a bit colder to participate in a state sanctioned execution. I know that I may very well offend and even anger some people by that statement, but it's not my intention to do so.

Most people in general have no idea what it really entails to execute another human being. It's easy to sit back and say I'm for capital punishment, but what if performing an execution were like jury duty? ---What if your state government sends you a notice to appear and to participate in an execution? ---It's not really that different than admitting you are in support for capital punishment. What if the condemned was a relative or close friend? ---I know that most supporters of capital punishment believe in the "Eye for an eye" thing, but what does that really mean? ---Do we really believe that God or Jesus meant that we should kill each other for renvenge or justice? When a human being is executed, is there really closure? Or satisfaction? ---I do not mean any disrespect to anyone who may read this who may be a victim or relative of a victim. I can never begin to understand your pain or loss, but like you and everyone else, these questions are constantly part of my everyday life. I am only seeking answers.

Here are a few legitimate facts about the cost of capital punishment. For each man or woman who is sentenced to death in America, from the time they are arrested till their execution date, it is costing, on average, 3.5 million dollars per individual. If you factor in that there are close to 3500 people on death row in America, we're talking close to 11 billion dollars! And, ironically, only a very small percentage of that 3500 will actually be executed by the state. Many will have reduced sentences or die in prison before their execution date. (Many die of cancer) And the tax payers will have paid at least 10x more to house each person on death row than if they were sentenced to life without parole.

New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson signed into law on March 19th (or there abouts) a bill to abolish capital punishment in NM because it costs his tax pyers too much money to keep capital punishment on the books. As we speak, 10 other states are considering the same action, and Texas, of ALL STATES is among the 10 in question! New Jersey also abolished the death penalty in 2008 for some of the same reasons. (Cost and lack of quantifiable evidence that captial punishment is a deterrant). States like Maryland and Kansas both have bills in their state legislature to also abolish the death penalty. I believe Maryland is in the final stages, only waiting for the governor's signature.

All this information leads to one clear and obvious conclusion--- Capital punishment costs too much money and energy to continue. Money and energy that an be used in other more positive ways for our communities, like education and recreational programs for children and youths. To keep capital punishment alive for the states that have it, functions more as a political trophy than a meaningful crime deterrant. It's a beast that just sits idle and eats up huge chunks of money and energy and adds to the quotient of suffering in the world.

As always, I pray that my questions and opinions are not offensive or hurtful to anyone who may read them. I'm just another human being trying to find my way through a very confusing and divided world. I appreciate any of your feed back or questions.

Much peace,
BD Winslow


Petit fleur said...

Well said, and I couldn't agree more.

I also think there must be some way to institute programs into prisons that are much better and serve both the prisoners and the public. I'm not sure how it would work, but I think that if it were monitored correctly that some prisoners with good behavior records could be of real service to kids on the fringes/at risk. (How's THAT for an eyebrow raiser?)

Hang in there BD and keep writing. We're here and we're reading.

xo pf

Zengoof said...

You make some very good points, and although you didn't say it, what a lot of it boils down to, I think, is not whether or not one is philosophically opposed to capital punishment, but just that it's not a practical, reasonable alternative given the realities of the society we live in. Your arguments are compelling without even factoring overwhelming evidence that suggests that capital punishment is arbitrarily applied, and that verdicts are particularly unreliable when the circumstances of a crime are particularly disturbing or evoke particularly strong emotions - as they typically do in capital cases.

Keep writing; we'll keep listening.

Lady Lemon said...

Wow, you make some really great points about the finances involved. I really think that the death penalty (and the money spent on it) aren't something that the average person spends a lot of time on. It's uncomfortable to think about, and because of that many people choose to avoid it entering their minds. But, it is such an important issue - how we as a people treat our citizens - even the ones that commit crimes. It says something to the world, as well as to our own people, about who we are as a nation.

Kind of makes me think about all the talk there's been lately about water boarding. It's just not ok.

You know, I think that having citizens witness executions is a brilliant idea. They should have to watch waterboarding in practice, too. That would get things changed up in a hurry!

And holy shit about Texas. David Cross does a standup routine about George Bush and how he has the "courage" to execute the mentally handicapped while he was Governor of TX.

Thanks again for sharing!