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Re: death penalty discussion

Many comments worthy of response. Sorry about the timezone time-lapse.

EM: as I said, and golf charlie reiterated, the Chinese already do harvest organs of executed prisoners.

TinyCO2 and EM: I don't believe in this "scale from left to right". A few weeks ago here, trying (failing) to promote peace between golf charlie and Pcar, I mentioned Arnold Kling's excellent explanation of why conservatives, progressives and libertarians always talk at cross-purposes: because they evaluate better worse along different axes (order/chaos vs. tyranny/oppression vs. freedom/constraint). This is pretty good in the broad, though I think we each have built up our own "axis" through our lives. And of course we're all of us "centrists" on our own axis.

golf charlie: You're right that imprisoning people is expensive, but you haven't considered the plus side of the ledger. E.g. they don't need roads or trains; prison guards add to GDP, etc. Not that it will end up in the black, but a fair number of people not in prison wouldn't make it into the black either. Should we kill them too?

Supertroll: you suggest the courts will have looked after the victims. I believe that's incorrect. E.g. Australia's Director of Public Prosecutions says this on their web page:

The CDPP does not act on behalf of a victim as solicitors act for their clients. In carrying out its functions, the CDPP acts on behalf of the whole community.
Australia's is based on the British justice system, so I expect the same applies there.

Just to be clear, I am against capital punishment. The mincer rationale is that, if we must have it, it should be both terrifying and distasteful. I suppose there's a little of Swift's "Modest Proposal" in the idea.

Aug 18, 2018 at 11:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan

Once the last medical barriers to large scale transplantation are overcome expect another massive can of worms to open.

Aug 18, 2018 at 10:00 PM | Entropic man

I entirely agree. Science advances quicker than Law. A human life used to start at birth. A human life can be maintained long after a heart is no longer capable of beating, lungs breathing etc.

Aug 18, 2018 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"A lot of the comments here have the subtext that criminals should be locked away or executed "for the greater good". "
Aug 18, 2018 at 10:00 PM | Entropic man

Erm, no!

"At school in about 1980, I remember a teacher explaining that a punishment should:
1. be a deterrent, by not being something people would wish for
2. satisfy society that the perpetrator had been punished
3. correct the perpetrators mind set, so that no repetition would occur.

The Death Penalty solves all three points. Once that is removed from the options list, nothing else can guarantee all three."

Aug 18, 2018 at 4:21 PM | golf charlie

If you are not going to execute, or lock up for life, what is the purpose of a prison?

The Death Penalty may not be a deterrent, but it does stop repeat offending. My personal moral opinion is that the Death Penalty should be available for premeditated murder, including terrorism. I am under no illusion that this is likely to change the Law

Aug 18, 2018 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Aug 18, 2018 at 9:42 PM | Supertroll

It was the Law then, that executed prisoners should be buried within the Prison. I don't think it was therefore Consecrated Ground. I do not know whether a Prison Chaplain was allowed or barred from the internment. This was part of the punishment approved by our Christian predecessors.

Entropic Man has referred to "organ harvesting" from executed prisoners. This already happens in China, and presumably people profit financially.

Families were understandaby upset to find out UK Hospitals had been doing it for years

"This involved the unauthorised removal, retention, and disposal of human tissue, including children’s organs, during the period 1988 to 1995. During this period organs were retained in more than 2,000 pots[note 1] containing body parts from around 850 infants. These were later uncovered at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool, during a public inquiry into the organ retention scandal.

The scandal led to the Human Tissue Act 2004, which overhauled legislation regarding the handling of human tissues in the UK and created the Human Tissue Authority."

When Military Transport Planes have brought back the coffins of those killed in Afghanistan by IEDs, it is comforting for all to assume the coffin contains an entire body, carefully retrieved by colleagues whilst under fire in a war zone.

Aug 18, 2018 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf charlie, Supertroll

A lot of the comments here have the subtext that criminals should be locked away or executed "for the greater good".

I get very nervous when "the greater good" is invoked. It is too easy to go from imprisoning murderers to killing anyone with awkward political views.

As Supertroll pointed out, such powers are too easily abused.


"The idea that Courts would sentence more people to death to cope with demand for spare parts makes me very uneasy. I am also uncomfortable about early parole being used to reduce prison overcrowding for political purposes."

Crime and punishment has always been a moral minefield, which is why it generates so much political heat. No easy answers.

"Burke and Hare"

The WHO policy is that organs should be donated, not purchased, but it gives you an idea of the values involved. It is legal in the US to pay for blood donations, but not in the UK. There is already an illegal market in transplant organs.

Black market price for a kidney for transplant can reach $200,000. That puts the value of an executed criminal at over $1 million for the five main organs alone, not to mention corneas and other parts.

Once the last medical barriers to large scale transplantation are overcome expect another massive can of worms to open.

Aug 18, 2018 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Everyone else's family has the right to bury or cremate their loved ones, but the proposal being put forward by EM (and golfCharlie?) would deprive a convict's family of their same right. So you would deprive a mother of burying her (whole) child for no crime of her own? If this was done in the past, then shame on the past.

Aug 18, 2018 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Aug 18, 2018 at 6:54 PM | Ross Lea

"Care in the Community" saw many Mental Health Hospitals closed down. Former residents/patients, and others who would have benefitted from them, frequently ended up in prison instead.

Police Custody Officers do not appreciate having "disturbed" people in their cells. If they have been arrested drunk and disorderly, they sober up by morning. If there are psychiatric issues, what options do they have to protect the public, safeguard the individual's rights, and protect the individual from causing harm to him/her self? (not many)

Drink and drug related crime is the big problem. Alcohol related crime tends to involve events after consumption. Drug related crime may involve getting money to buy the drugs, crimes committed under the influence, smuggling, supply distribution, gang warfare etc. Alcohol is a legal drug, and alcohol related crime is easier to quantify. Non-alcohol drug related crime can be quantified to suit the person funding the statistics. But however it is all added up, the numbers are huge.

Aug 18, 2018 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Supertroll & Entropic Man
It WAS the case that hanged prisoners were buried within the Prison, in unmarked graves, quicklime applied, to reduce "overcrowding". I have no idea when the practice ceased.

In an era that produced Burke and Hare:

there was money to be made by selling bodies for medical research

Aug 18, 2018 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Kerbside Recycling

The Horrifying Thought That People Might Do Things Without The Man With A Clipboard

Not much different from Skip recycling - fill skip, next morning it's all been swapped.

Online/email reuse:
& Gumtree

Aug 18, 2018 at 9:03 PM | Registered CommenterPcar

"Golf charlie I am perfectly serious.
I personally oppose capital punishment. It is immoral to say "Thou shall do no murder" and then make it state policy.
But if the more barbaric among you are set upon capital punishment it should bring maximum benefit to society.
Organ harvesting is, as you say, already technically feasible and beneficial, yet you all seem too squeamish to accept it.
I find it amusing that among all you bloodthirsty right-wingers the centrist is the most hard-boiled of all.
Aug 18, 2018 at 6:59 PM | Entropic man"

It is not immoral to say "Thou shall not murder", and have Capital Punishment as a consequence, if that is clearly understood by all. You are entitled to your moral judgements, but you can not judge another culture purely based on your moral judgements. Those who commit a crime on British soil, should be tried and sentenced in accordance with UK Law. If UK Passport Holders choose to murder or smuggle drugs in a Country that has the Death Penalty, or Life Imprisonment for such crimes, they cannot demand leniency, even though it is often provided.

You state that Capital Punishment is barbaric. Is it? Is keeping someone in prison for the rest of their natural life barbaric?
Previous Christian cultures thought an Oubliette was less barbaric than the Death Penalty.
UK Prison Inmates have better rights to space, privacy and exercise than Royal Navy Submariners.

The Chinese are recycling rubbish to save something useful. Isn't this Green philosophy? The idea that Courts would sentence more people to death to cope with demand for spare parts makes me very uneasy. I am also uncomfortable about early parole being used to reduce prison overcrowding for political purposes.

In MY opinion, neither Ruth Ellis nor Derek Bentley deserved the Death Penalty. Myra Hindley and Ian Brady did, President Obama correctly authorised the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and the UK is correct to allow US Law to process the remaining ISIS murderers known as "The Beatles", having stripped them of UK Citizenship. You are at liberty to disagree.

If everybody was nice, polite societies wouldn't need to sentence anyone, or pay for their crimes.

Aug 18, 2018 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

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