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Call for an End of Executions

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  • #76
    One of the things that most disturbs me about the case in Georgia is the standard set in the appeal-- he was expected to prove his innocence, not that he was not guilty, which is the usual burden of proof. When that is the standard for a death penalty case?

    Rothgo, I think you've hit on one of the problems with this as a political issue (rather than a moral one). Arguing against the death penalty for a child rapist is asking for political trouble. "He supports_____!" I can see the headlines.

    I suppose, though, that would reveal some of the differences between real conviction, which I certainly don't expect in contemporary American politics, and political pragmatism or even self-preserving cynicism, which I do.

    The worst are those who are now trying to advance political careers on the backs of the executed. With all of the posturing about justice for victims, such people are actually victimizing doubly. f-ing hypocrites, indeed, Wanderlust.

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    • #77
      For me Georgia has moved very close to becoming a Rogue State. Where's NATO now?
      Google ergo sum

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      • #78
        Welcome to the land of states' rights, L'E! Clearly, Georgia's Board of Pardons, and its members political motives, is more important than international outrage, national opinion, and, most importantly, the value of one human life. I'm disgusted and sad.

        Comment


        • #79
          Depressingly predictable.

          I was going to write loads of stuff I realised was largely irrelevant.

          Depressingly predictable.

          Comment


          • #80
            Originally posted by Doc View Post
            Welcome to the land of states' rights, L'E! Clearly, Georgia's Board of Pardons, and its members political motives, is more important than international outrage, national opinion, and, most importantly, the value of one human life. I'm disgusted and sad.
            Actually I really don't care about international outrage, national opinion or a lot of that other stuf either but when there is no conclusive forensic evidence and 7 of the 9 witnesses recant, then there is definitely wrong in the state of Georgia. I have no moral objection to the death penalty as such but one cannot support it as it exists right now. Too much consideration is given to eye witness testimony which has been proven to be faulty as all hell. Too many DA's waste money chasing death penalty trials for political purposes when suspects are willing to plead guilty in exchange for taking it off the table. Too damned many innocent people have been convicted and sentenced to death row to trust the people responsible for the process from the DAs to the judges to the juries. Hell, as firm a believer as I am in the forensics it's starting to come out that lab technicians are willing to even fudge that. Given that I have to believe a moratorium on the death penalty is in order until a more secure system for applying it is devised, one in which most human fallibility is eliminated which of course might mean a total ban. The only exception I might consider would be for someone already serving a life term since there is no reason he has for not killing since he is already serving the max.
            herb

            Man spends his time on devising a more idiot proof computer. The universe spends its time devising bigger idiots. So far the universe is winning.

            http://www.wolfshead.net/wolfshowl


            http://www.wolfshead.net/books

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            • #81
              Originally posted by Wolfshead View Post
              ... Given that I have to believe a moratorium on the death penalty is in order until a more secure system for applying it is devised, one in which most human fallibility is eliminated which of course might mean a total ban....
              This seems to me to be the rational position in this matter. The current system is deeply flawed and needs fixing. Meantime, a ban on executions is the only way to prevent the execution of an innocent person. Or I should say, another execution of an innocent person. (A case in Texas several years ago.)

              "When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
              - Mark Twain, notebook entry, 1898.

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              • #82
                Wolfshead, your intelligent position I can fully respect, while still opposing capital punishment in principle. Thank you.
                Google ergo sum

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by Wolfshead View Post
                  Actually I really don't care about international outrage, national opinion or a lot of that other stuff either but when there is no conclusive forensic evidence and 7 of the 9 witnesses recant, then there is definitely wrong in the state of Georgia. I have no moral objection to the death penalty as such but one cannot support it as it exists right now.
                  You shouldn't be too quick to put your faith in "conclusive forensic evidence" either. The Birmingham pub bombings occurred on 21 November 1974 in Birmingham, UK. The explosions killed 21 people and injured 182, most of them teenagers. The police quickly apprehended six Irish men who had boarded a train from Birmingham's New Street Station shortly before the blasts occurred. When their hands were tested with something called the grease test they all tested positive for handling nitro glycerine. With such an open-and-shut forensic result they were duly convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. I remember the revulsion at the bombings and I'm pretty sure that had they been executed most of the country would've cheered.

                  Leaving aside other aspects of the case, as those who were convinced of their innocence and campaigned for their release eventually showed, you don't just get a positive result from the grease test for nitro glycerine; you also get one for nitro cellulose. This is used as a coating on playing cards. Guess what the six men were doing as they travelled on the train that day?

                  The six spent 16 years behind bars before their convictions were overturned, but they were still alive. When it came to capital punishment this case changed the mind of, among others, then Home Sectretary Michael Howard. As he said at the time, however inadequate an apology and compensation might be at such a time it was still infinitely preferable to "the cold comfort of a posthumous pardon".

                  This is right. And I'm really glad it's now been half a century since we banished the barbarism of capital punishment from Britain.

                  Comment


                  • #84
                    Brilliant, Rob, and definitely a fine example to support the total abolition of death penalty.
                    Google ergo sum

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Rob Hansen View Post
                      Originally posted by Wolfshead View Post
                      Actually I really don't care about international outrage, national opinion or a lot of that other stuff either but when there is no conclusive forensic evidence and 7 of the 9 witnesses recant, then there is definitely wrong in the state of Georgia. I have no moral objection to the death penalty as such but one cannot support it as it exists right now.
                      You shouldn't be too quick to put your faith in "conclusive forensic evidence" either. The Birmingham pub bombings occurred on 21 November 1974 in Birmingham, UK. The explosions killed 21 people and injured 182, most of them teenagers. The police quickly apprehended six Irish men who had boarded a train from Birmingham's New Street Station shortly before the blasts occurred. When their hands were tested with something called the grease test they all tested positive for handling nitro glycerine. With such an open-and-shut forensic result they were duly convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. I remember the revulsion at the bombings and I'm pretty sure that had they been executed most of the country would've cheered.

                      Leaving aside other aspects of the case, as those who were convinced of their innocence and campaigned for their release eventually showed, you don't just get a positive result from the grease test for nitro glycerine; you also get one for nitro cellulose. This is used as a coating on playing cards. Guess what the six men were doing as they travelled on the train that day?

                      The six spent 16 years behind bars before their convictions were overturned, but they were still alive. When it came to capital punishment this case changed the mind of, among others, then Home Sectretary Michael Howard. As he said at the time, however inadequate an apology and compensation might be at such a time it was still infinitely preferable to "the cold comfort of a posthumous pardon".

                      This is right. And I'm really glad it's now been half a century since we banished the barbarism of capital punishment from Britain.
                      This is one of the reasons I qualified my statement about forensics. When I say I trust forensics it means a body of forensic evidence not one simple test such as you describe in this instance, which actually wasn't faulty forensics but the manipulation of such by either the prosecutor or the technicians. Also while I'm likely to buy tests such as those described above when they result in negatives I'm still leary of false positives in such cases. I would need stronger, less variable evidence such as fingerprints, DNA and ballistics along with any such tests.

                      We had a similar instance here many years ago where a young man, one usually involved in petty disturbances with the law and with a outlaw biker for a father, was accused of a murder during a robbery. He was convicted based on coerced testimony and the forensics of some version of the parrafin test. At the trial the prosecution witness for the forensics testified that the positive result was proof he fired a gun. It wasn't until later that it was pointed out that the same results could be gotten by working on a car engine, this in the days of leaded gas. The kid was a gearhead and had been working on a car when arrested. This was never pointed out to the jury, they were led to believe that the test was conclusive for gunfire and only gunfire. The prosecution was so in to this conviction that even after two guys in a FL jail eventually confessed to the crime and said they didn't even know the kid they still insisted he was guilty. The kid eventually won another trial but I moved out of state about that time and don't know whether he had one or the prosecution finally gave up.

                      All this shows why I say human fallability must be taken out of the equation which I don't know is possible. Prosecutors hate to take one out of the win column even when faced with evidence that they are wrong. A lot of evidence, some forensics, can be manipulated and even if the evidence is dead solid on the implications of it can be portrayed as something it is not. Until such stringent guidelines can be put in effect I believe a moratorium should be declared. If such guidelines cannot be devised then, while I can support the death penalty under such guidelines, I can also see the reason to ban it without the possibility of them. IOW I have no objection to the death penalty, I do have objections to the possibilities that it is to easy to apply to innocent people at the present time.
                      herb

                      Man spends his time on devising a more idiot proof computer. The universe spends its time devising bigger idiots. So far the universe is winning.

                      http://www.wolfshead.net/wolfshowl


                      http://www.wolfshead.net/books

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Wolfshead View Post
                        Originally posted by Doc View Post
                        Welcome to the land of states' rights, L'E! Clearly, Georgia's Board of Pardons, and its members political motives, is more important than international outrage, national opinion, and, most importantly, the value of one human life. I'm disgusted and sad.
                        Actually I really don't care about international outrage, national opinion or a lot of that other stuf either but when there is no conclusive forensic evidence and 7 of the 9 witnesses recant, then there is definitely wrong in the state of Georgia. I have no moral objection to the death penalty as such but one cannot support it as it exists right now. Too much consideration is given to eye witness testimony which has been proven to be faulty as all hell. Too many DA's waste money chasing death penalty trials for political purposes when suspects are willing to plead guilty in exchange for taking it off the table. Too damned many innocent people have been convicted and sentenced to death row to trust the people responsible for the process from the DAs to the judges to the juries. Hell, as firm a believer as I am in the forensics it's starting to come out that lab technicians are willing to even fudge that. Given that I have to believe a moratorium on the death penalty is in order until a more secure system for applying it is devised, one in which most human fallibility is eliminated which of course might mean a total ban. The only exception I might consider would be for someone already serving a life term since there is no reason he has for not killing since he is already serving the max.
                        FWIW, I mentioned the international outrage and national opinion simply because both are rooted in the inconclusiveness of the evidence, rather than any belief that the U.S. should necessarily do anything because of such pressures.

                        I agree that eyewitness testimony is beyond flawed, and in the GA case, was apparently never trustworthy. And you don't have to go far to find evidence of flawed forensic evidence or even doctored forensic evidence. There is the famous case in the West Virginia State Police lab nearly 10 years ago, where the analyst essentially made up evidence that convicted several people, most notably someone wrongly accused and convicted of rape--the bulk of the other evidence was circumstantial of the worse sort. He was Black and was at the mall where that rape occurred at the time it occurred. This foreshadowed a larger problem--as forensic evidence becomes more and more authoritative to juries, the analysis of that evidence is not always scrutinized. Sorry to bring up the Amanda Knox case, but if you listen to some of the reports of her appeal, people seem amazed that forensic analysis can be fallible.

                        This is an issue that people should consider even outside of the context of the death penalty.

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          Originally posted by Lucid Sirius View Post
                          Originally posted by Wolfshead View Post
                          ... Given that I have to believe a moratorium on the death penalty is in order until a more secure system for applying it is devised, one in which most human fallibility is eliminated which of course might mean a total ban....
                          This seems to me to be the rational position in this matter. The current system is deeply flawed and needs fixing. Meantime, a ban on executions is the only way to prevent the execution of an innocent person. Or I should say, another execution of an innocent person. (A case in Texas several years ago.)
                          I might suggest that the standard of eliminating most human fallibility doesn't go far enough. The stakes are too high for "most", as the state of Texas seemed to ignore in that case.

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            Originally posted by Wolfshead View Post

                            All this shows why I say human fallability must be taken out of the equation which I don't know is possible. Prosecutors hate to take one out of the win column even when faced with evidence that they are wrong. A lot of evidence, some forensics, can be manipulated and even if the evidence is dead solid on the implications of it can be portrayed as something it is not. Until such stringent guidelines can be put in effect I believe a moratorium should be declared. If such guidelines cannot be devised then, while I can support the death penalty under such guidelines, I can also see the reason to ban it without the possibility of them. IOW I have no objection to the death penalty, I do have objections to the possibilities that it is to easy to apply to innocent people at the present time.
                            Oops. Sorry Wolfshead. I got further in the thread and realized I was essentially repeating what you said (As a side note, that we say the same thing, even though I fundamentally object to and oppose the death penalty, reveals how complex this issue can be).

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              No sweat Doc, you make good points. The reason I pointed out my view on international opinions and such, which was totally reasonable in this case, was because there are other cases where the outrage is based on personal opinion rather than the merits of the case.

                              In this case the point that really got to me was the main witness, and the one who originally pointed the police to Davis, was later accused by some of the recanting witnesses as having confessed to them that he was the killer. Hearing witnesses saying that and knowing he was the original accuser should have put a brake on the whole process right there. Of course I'm only going by some reports in the news I've read so my info might not be right but if it is it cast major aspersions on the police's case right there. Why the rush, which I hate using considering he was on death row 20 years, but then no one was saying they had to let him out of prison right away but blowing off all the holes in this case and killing him makes no sense given the issues that have arisen lately about the death penalty. But then again those in charge of these kinds of decisions in that state are also those that pander to those who booed the gay soldier at the GOP debates last week.
                              herb

                              Man spends his time on devising a more idiot proof computer. The universe spends its time devising bigger idiots. So far the universe is winning.

                              http://www.wolfshead.net/wolfshowl


                              http://www.wolfshead.net/books

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                I think it boils down to "strong leadership" issues that bedevil many an institution, both private and public. In that strong leadership, as understood by weak people, is to never admit you could be wrong.
                                Last edited by Rothgo; 09-27-2011, 11:46 AM.

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