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March 21, 2011

So Sue Me

By Heather

The answers, please . . . .

The other day, I noticed a strange piece of news. A convict in Ohio, condemned to death for murder, had gone to the chamber for lethal injection. The executioners had difficulty getting the needle into his arm, and the execution was halted.

Now, the condemned man is suing the state of Ohio. Obviously, he’s still alive.

I admit, I’m not a lawyer. And I thank God that I am an American, even though I know that our laws can be strange and faulty at times. Our efforts are to preserve the rights of each individual. Human rights—which, of course, must be upheld. We were founded on this principle, and I’m a believer. We all know that torture is wrong, the innocent can be accused, and that the law is a game that only the most learned (and sometimes well-spoken, charming, and manipulative) should play.

But, you can’t help but stop and say, “Huh?” that this man can sue.

061161677_injection My mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, and step-father all died after or in hospital care. They needed IVs at various times; heck, I’ve had IVs, and many a time, the healthcare professional had to poke and poke to get a needle in. I’ve seen bruises all over the arms of those in the hospitals, and, of course, most of the time, it has nothing to do with cruel and unusual punishment, but rather thin veins. When there is trouble, nurses will stop and bring in someone who is an expert. But that doesn’t change the fact that a good percentage of Americans has had a bad IV at one time or another, and I’m willing to bet, 97% of the innocent-in-the-hospital did not get to sue over a problem with an IV. We all had our inalienable rights, and did not sue.

But, that’s not really my dilemma . . . .

I noted the incident on my Facebook page, and my question was, can we really allow the convicted man’s lawsuit to go through? What happened to the human rights of his victims?

I received an indignant answer. Of course, he can sue. If he can’t, we’re denying him our Constitution constitutional rights. To me, that begins with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Okay, once you’re incarcerated for murder, the liberty part is really not quite there anymore. And it’s unlikely you’re going to wake up happy in a prison cell, though people do come to peace and learn how to live—and even grow and help others—in prison. In prison, you’re not at liberty.

Back to the victims. What the hell happened to their inalienable rights? Did they have a chance to think about suing the state while they were being raped, tortured, beaten, or murdered?

 On a lighter note (if the death penalty can be a light note) we now have lethal injection as our main Chair means of execution in Florida. (No Florida bashing here, please, folks. We are working on the voting issue, I swear.) Previously, it was the electric chair; every Floridian has heard the words Old Sparky, and old Sparky was kept at Sparks, Florida. A prisoner went to the electric chair and his hair caught fire. (Why he hadn’t had a clean-shaven head, I don’t know.) People were outraged that this happened; he had killed five people, including a pregnant woman and child. But we don’t believe in torture, and we didn’t mean to torture him.

A local paper ran the headline, “Electric chair deemed dangerous!” Some of us scratched out heads, thinking we’d been aware of that fact.

We halted executions until a decision could be reached. I believe you now have a choice of how to go when you’re on death row. (I might be wrong on this; fellow Floridians--or anyone--feel free to correct me.)

Ah, but is lethal injection cruel and inhumane?

Guillotine-papercraft Should we bring in the guillotine? That was certainly quick . . . .

Do we abolish the death penalty nationwide? With this question comes another—are we capable of keeping men and women who admit they will kill again in prison? I mean, what is this? Twenty years for white-collar crime and fifteen for murder?

Or, at heart, do we, as human beings, want a man like this ripped to shreds? Or, in our heart of hearts, do we believe more in Dexter—is Jeff Lindsay’s success Dexter with his series of books partially due to the fact that we, as a people, can’t help but feel that such criminals deserve to die?

I don’t have the answers . . . I hope someone does!

 

 

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Comments

Long-timers here know my history with the death penalty--culminating with my being at my client's execution.

So, I'm against it.

I don't think there is a humane way to kill someone... Even physician assisted suicide makes me cringe a bit. But because in most death penalty cases, the act that got them put on death row was so unbearably inhumane, we can kill them back. It's cheaper for us to kill them then it is to feed and house and clothes them until they die and with a deficit as high as it is, maybe that's a good thing...

There is no good answer but I don't think prisoners should have the right to sue, especially those on death row. They did something horrible to get there and I have never gotten a good IV on the first try- my veins do not like needles anymore than I do. So unless every doctor who missed my vein is going to give me free surgery, he needs to get over it and die already. Ok that sounded mean. But he's still on death row so what is he even suing for? Freedom? Obviously we tried that and it didn't work. Money? Can't generally use that when you're on death row... Hmmm

I'll confess I sure don't have the answers. Men who claimed they were innocent of the crimes accused of have been exonerated over the past few years thanks to DNA analysis; in one case the man was indeed on Death Row. What if he'd taken the Final Walk, and THEN the evidence comes out? Now what do we do?

Conversely, there are indeed creatures who look like people who should be flushed (I'm being polite here, you guys, and you know I am!).

I'm in the middle on the Death Penalty. In this country, it means a minimum of 13 years of waiting, air conditioning, three meals a day, excellent medical care, cable TV, etc. etc. Conversely, it also means the accused has every possible chance to present new evidence, his attorneys can try and persuade the courts to commute to Life, witnesses can come forward, irregularities can be brought out, and so on.

The System is not perfect, and Heather's description of The Law is accurate, but it's the best we've got right now.

Most of the time, I'd vote for Life in prison, no chance of parole. That gives rise to the problem of over-crowding, resources, expense, etc.

On the other hand, there have been cases when I thought Dirty Harry was a little too gentle in his methods.

It's a complex issue, we all know that. No easy answers, either.

I confess that I think there is an easy answer, and it's: no. I also don't think emotion has any place in the argument, because it will almost always lead us astray.

We're the last Western country to have the death penalty, and we persist in the face of mounting, actual proof of plenty of wrongful convictions in this country, whether on death row or not. Any son or daughter of any of us could be wrongfully convicted; for that matter, any of us could be. If we're going to overspend on prisoners, let's do it on making sure we don't kill people and then have to say "oops."

If we'd change our stupid drug laws, and stop turning our prison system over to private companies who profit from high prison populations, we'd solve the overcrowding problem. And don't even get me started on the national shame of our mass incarceration of our young black men.

I love it that you raise such an important question, Heather, and it *is* important if we want to keep our values in line with our actions.

consumer alert: a few of my novels have been, at heart, anti-death penalty books.

One more thing. . .

"During 2007, 24 countries, 88% in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States alone, executed 1,252 people compared to 1,591 in 2006."

Notice the company we keep. . .just sayin'.


Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html#ixzz1HEP2i6Lk

I'm with Josh. Against the death penalty, that is, not attending an execution. Killing the murderer makes us murderers, too, and that horrifies me.

Thank you, Heather, for bringing up the issue. I too am against it for philosophical reasons, believing that killing killers is not exactly the moral high ground. And would I be willing to flip the switch, or give the injection? No.

And considering how many innocent people throughout history (The Inquisition! the Salem Witch Trials!) have been executed, it makes sense to give those on Death Row every legal opportunity to slow the process. Which is horrifyingly expensive. Just as a practical matter, I'm not sure we can afford it.

Would I want to kill someone with my bare hands if I were personally connected to the victim of the kinds of crimes we're talking about here? Yes, but that's another story.

Philosophical or not, I might think someone deserves to die for the heinous acts they've committed, but please do not ask me to make that decision. Sometimes I think death is too quick a punishment, and if we had a well-run prison system, with solitary as past of the sentence (life in prision IN SOLITARY with no chance of parole), the prisoner would have lots of time to ponder his actions. However, no system is perfect, and the jury system is the only thing we've got. However, I agree with Harley on one thing...touch me or mine and all bets are off.

For all the reasons already mentioned, I am also against the death penalty. But I also think Nancy P made some well-considered points, and that our entire prison system needs to be overhauled. The issue with our young black male population needs to be addressed, for sure, before any fix of substance can happen.

Until we can be absolutely, 100% sure that we are taking the life that needs to be taken, the death penalty is just wrong.

Until the death penalty is applied fairly and the vast majority of those on death row no longer have darker skins and a lot less money, the death penalty is just wrong.

And as long as we are allowed to execute someone we know is innocent (Judge Scalia says that ACTUAL INNOCENCE is no reason to overturn a verdict handed down by jury...including one that has death as a penalty), a child or mentally retarded, the death penalty is just wrong.

You've all covered it, and have eloquently voiced my dilemmas as well.

So on a small tangent, where on earth did you find a picture of Barbie next to a guillotine? I kind of like it!

I am not a criminal lawyer or a constitutional lawyer. But this is fairly firmly established law.

The State has a responsibility to implement the death penalty. If the state violates it's responsibility, there are consequences. It has nothing to do with the original victims' rights. Those rights were enforced in the criminal proceeding that led to the imposition of the death penalty. We don't answer cruelty with more cruelty.

I used to be conflicted about the death penalty. But having spent some time discussing the U.S. Constitution, and knowing the founder's intent that "better 100 guilty go free than one innocent convicted" - especially in light of the recent cases exonerating convicted felons based on DNA evidence - I must now take a position against it.

From a spiritual standpoint, in recent weeks, I have re-learned a lesson that I have been trying to ignore for decades - life has a way of delivering vengeance without our help.

First, I am a soft-hearted person who thinks we should rehabilitate everyone that can be rehabilitated. That being said, some people can't be helped. As Bruce Springsteen once sang, "Sometimes there's just an evil in this world." What do we do with them? In California, we've kept Charles Manson around for decades. It might have been more humane to execute him - he's loony as a tune and just getting worse over time.

Second, if you can sue doctors who can't get a needle in you correctly, I need to get a lawyer. I've just hit the jackpot!

Third, and on a different subject, my blog was given one of those chain-letter Blogger Awards and I'm supposed to pass it on to five others and I just named 5 that I read all the time, so if you look at my recent post, you're mentioned. As far as accepting your award, I'm okay if you take it or leave it. Here's the link - http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com/2011/03/all-news-in-fits-of-print.html

For the reasons everyone has stated so eloquently, I also oppose the death penalty and second Nancy P's call for an overhaul of the entire penal system. I'm also with Harley et al. - touch me or mine and I won't be responsible for the outcome. Which is why I'm glad that victim's families don't get to call the final shots.

I will note that, here in Virginia, providing new evidence of innocence is extremely difficult. The fact that DNA evidence was collected x number of years ago and might be exculpatory is no guarantee that it will, in fact, be analyzed and used in a prisoner's favor. If that's not scary, I don't know what is.

The only problem with the death penalty is that it removes the ability to say "oops." Actually it has a few other problems. The legal costs and delays end up costing more than life in prison.

I have, from time to time looked at the hard numbers and the press fluff on the death penalty. For all the talk about racial inequality, if you get into the numbers, the race of the criminal is not as big a factor as the race of the victim. Killing a white person moves you closer to the needle than anything else. If you are a black person and you have killed a white person, the state will kill you about 70% of the time.

If you talk to the families of murder victims, they tend to talk in a very calm, clear voice about wanting the murderer eliminated from wasting the planet's oxygen. Many would prefer they leave the same way they killed. Let's try to remember that the 8th amendment was written by people who had been sentenced to death in England.

"...child or mentally retarded, the death penalty is just wrong." No it is not. Meet the killer of Christine Smetzer, http://www.ksdk.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=221722&catid=3. He consistently scores 68 or 69 on IQ tests. His prize for scoring 70? Needle in the arm. There is an incentive to do your best every day. Christine attended a school I worked in. I went to school with the prosecutor who convicted him. The TV crews seem to find his crying relatives. They did not have much to say after his second murder.

My biggest beef is with the blind press. They parade the press releases of the Innocence Project like divine proclamations. the Innocence Project does a very good job of writing press releases and gathering cameras. They also do a very, very good job of hiding their numbers. They get "about 3000 requests a year and have freed 267 inmates, IN 21 YEARS. That means, 99.58% of the prisoners requesting the Innocence Project really did it. The Innocence Project does not release the whys of why they do not take cases. My neighboring state of Illinois just eliminated the death penalty. Illinois has about 20 of the 267 cases. Had one police department taken their white hoods off long enough to look for a murder instead of a black man, nine of those 20 would never have been convicted. Nine different men where convicted of the murders of a single serial killer.

While I am beating on the lap dog press, I don't care to hear the killer's name, what he had to eat, what he had to say or who he prayed with or see his cryin' momma. How about the next time you start to cover an execution, you say "The killer of Jim Smith, a store clerk killed for $27 and a Mountain Dew was executed today. Now to Bob and the sports."

Hi, Alan. I did some volunteer work with the Innocence Project and found them very blunt about why they didn't take most cases, and it was not because they didn't think some of those people were "not guilty." In many cases that would be so, just because practically every convict who can apply to the IP will apply, and the non-serious ones have to be eliminated, of course. But there are many, many cases where the IP can't take a case because they can't provide what a court would demand in the way of new evidence, proof of actual innocence, or whatever. They have to turn down cases that are very tough to turn down, cases in which they may believe strongly in the likelihood of an inmate's innocence. But their resources are limited, their legal staff is limited, their volunteers are limited, and there are only so many cases they can take in any year. One simply cannot and should not draw any inference of guilt from the fact that the IP does not take a certain case. They can only take the cases they feel absolutely sure they have a very strong likelihood of winning. That means they have to pass on cases where there could well be wrongful imprisonment, but which they don't think they can adequately demonstrate to the court. It's very sad sometimes. Very sad.

Just want to clear up the idea that by taking such a limited number of cases in so many years it means that 99.85% of the convicts are guilty. It just means resources are limited and these are hard cases to re-try, especially with limited resources and in the face of entrenched hostility to re-trials. Etc.

I guess I'd also say I'm glad they get a lot of publicity for the few cases they can take. They have done tremendous work in raising public consciousness, imo.

lol, this seems to be a one-more-thing kind of day, sorry!

I just want to add that in the Kansas City branch of the Innocence Project, for instance, there is paid staff of six attorneys to handle about 300 active cases from convicts in prisons in five (or maybe 7? I can't remember) states. They're handling between 6,000 to 8,000 contacts a year, trying to decide which ones they can actually take. These are enormously difficult and time-consuming things--every one that isn't rejected out of hand has to be re-investigated from scratch, everybody re-interviewed, including cops, witnesses, families, etc., etc. A single case takes between a year and 10 years to pursue!

Most of the convicts who apply to them are in prison for reasons the IP can't handle anyway, so that accounts for a whole lot of turn-downs, and doesn't reflect on guilt or innocence.

Honest, they're doin' the best they can. :)

I know that I would be against the death penalty if we were capable of keeping people locked up. We're not; he hadn't been convicted of all the murders yet, but Ted Bundy was actually incarcerated in another state and escaped to come to Florida to kill four more victims. Dukakis let a man out of furlough--and the man killed during the weekend. A friend in Italy told me once that in Italy, it was necessary that it be abolished: the rich got off, the poor were sent to their deaths. In the OJ trial, his brilliant lawyers played the race card, and the prosecution was outgunned. I just wish that "life" meant life. I can remember, too, when Bundy was executed. Wound were raw down here; those poor, beautiful young college students with everything to live for--and an eleven year old girl--had suffered and died terribly. People sang a song to "Wendy." Who's gonna fry like microwave pizza, everyone knows it Bundy! Oh! And thank you for the wonderful and insightful comments--in both directions! And thank you brilliant Harley--yes, what a picture, Barbie and a guillotine!

I'm in favor of the death penalty, especially in crimes against children. But I want that guilty proved beyond a shadow of a doubt -- DNA evidence.

Ditto to what Elaine just said. We don't have the death penalty in Canada and it does boggle the mind the cost of keeping a criminal housed for their natural lifespan when there are so many people starving and budgets getting cut for education every year. Do we ever hear of budget cuts to prisons?

Yes, Gaylin -- here in California there are budget cuts to prisons. Conditions are already wretched. There's so much wrong with the prison system, and with our collective "lock 'em up and throw away the key" mentality about prisoners in general, making no distinction between serial killers and low-level drug offenders. There seems to be no will at all --let alone money -- for rehabilitation. Hence the high rate of recidivism.

And the cost of executing someone, after all the appeals, is enormous. I don't know if it's higher than the cost of housing them for life, but I think it is. Does anyone know?

I was watching KPAX (that movie w/Kevin Spacey as a light-traveling alien and Jeff Bridges as the head of Bellvue in NY).
Jeff's character was interviewing Spacey's as an alien and said, "Well, who makes the laws on your planet?"
Spacey's character shrugged and said, "No, one."
Jeff said, "Well, how do you discern who's right and who's wrong?"
Spacey looks at him like he's a child and says, "Well, everyone knows the difference between right and wrong."

And therein lies our dilemma. We need everyone to know and ACT right!

Harley asked if anyone knows if the cost of executing someone is higher than the cost of life-time incarceration. I have heard that it is (in CT, anyway), but I don't know how that was determined.

As for myself, I DO oppose the death penalty for many, many reasons, many of which have already been stated here today. I believe so strongly that it is wrong that I have told my family that if I die at someone else's hands, I do NOT want the person to receive the death penalty. At one point a few years ago I had the name of an organization that could supply forms to be filled out to that effect. I have misplaced the organization's name but today's discussion reminds me that I need to follow through on this.

I know that if someone murdered someone I love, I would be blind with rage. I would hope, though, that I would realize that killing the perpetrator would not bring back my loved one. I believe in life imprisonment with no chance of parole.

This is two different issues for me. Over my lifetime, I've veered back and forth on the death penalty. Now I'm against it, primarily because I believe there are two many people on death row who were falsely convicted. My heart breaks every time I see a story of someone who's been imprisoned for 20 plus years and just got released because new evidence/new trial demonstrated the he truly wasn't guilty. Do I think those people have a right to sue for wrongful imprisonment? You betcha. Money can't replace the years lost to incarceration, but at least it can make the years of freedom more stable and comfortable.

I do not believe that a convicted prisoner should have the right to sue the system or an individual. When you are convicted and go to jail, you lose your right to vote. So should it be with bringing suit. If/when you're released, apply for right to suit when you apply to reestablish right to vote.

Everyone knows the name "Ted Bundy".

We remember the killers. We should remember the victims:

Joni Lenz
Lynda Ann Healy
Donna Gail Manson
Susan Elaine Rancourt
Roberta Kathleen "Kathy" Parks
Brenda Carol Ball
Georgeann Hawkins
Janice Ann Ott
Denise Marie Naslund
Unknown teenage hitchhiker
Nancy Wilcox
Melissa Anne Smith
Laura Aime
Carol DaRonch
Debra "Debby" Kent
Caryn Campbell
Julie Cunningham
Denise Oliverson
Lynette Culver
Susan Curtis
Lisa Levy
Margaret Bowman
Karen Chandler
Kathy Kleiner
Cheryl Thomas
Kimberly Leach

Some lived after the attack, most did not.

These are the KNOWN victims.

I am so torn; I have a horror of killing anyone; and the death penalty is killing, but there is an internal need for justice for the victims, and dare I say it, revenge. In California, yes, prison conditions ARE wretched, and they are getting worse. And every once in a while they just release the least offensive prisoners, to save money and space. Who knows what those ex-prisoners will do? There is this eternal question-why should we give the perpetrators what they didn't give their victims. The answer, of course, is that we aren't the evil perpetrators. I'm not even talking about the innocent. Wonderful work, Nancy.

While it does seem like criminals have extended rights (certainly more rights than the criminal allowed the victim), I think we have to consider this scenario: what if WE were wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, wouldn't we want those rights to have a say? To be able to speak up from our cells?

It's like the recent decision by the US Supreme Court, allowing the Westboro Baptist Church to continue with their vile funeral protests. Yes, we have to let them keep their rights to protest, so that WE may keep OUR rights to protest. If they are denied freedom of speech, so are we.

Harley, it's my understanding that when you factor in all the appeals, the trials, the appointed lawyers, etc, it does cost more to execute than to send someone to prison for life. It's also my understanding that juries are more likely to convict than not when they have the option of giving a guilty person life without the possibility of parole rather than the death penalty.

Thank you, William, for that list. Horrible.

While I am not in favor of the death penalty, I AM in favor of mandatory surgical castration for convicted murderers and anyone convicted of molesting, raping, or otherwise harming the life and well-being of a child. I'm thinking the threat of that particular punishment would carry far more weight than the threat of incarceration for decades, whether or not the death penalty was carried out at the end of many years of deliberations.

I remember that they were letting murderers go early because of costs a few years back--and that they locked up Martha Stewart at the same time. In my opinion, she took the fall for a lot of other people, but guilty or not is not the question. Was I afraid of Martha Steward being out on the streets? No! Fine the woman. Let her support herself--and keep the murderers in prison. That, I believe, is our problem. Honest to God, like an old Chevy van, we need a major overhaul! Someone, we have to actually keep the murderers in prison. And, find out how to use out immunity deals. Look at the Karla Homolka case!

Agreed, Heather, about Martha. What a spectacular waste of resources.

Sadly, Karen, castration does no good. None.

Don't get me going on Karla Homolka. She and Paul Bernado are two of the best arguments for retro-active abortion in history.

What I wonder is . . . how do we go about changing the system? And, yes, as a first generation American, I know and believe that we're the best in the world, but we're the best because we are allowed to fix ourselves. I wish I had studied law, because I don't understand the sentencing. And, here's one place where--and I'm not talking about just the South!--prejudice still seems to exist. A good lawyer is worth his/her weight in gold. We're now mired in so many years of the way it is, how can we go about making sure that murder is a far greater crime than something white collar, or that the kid that holds ups up a store isn't in for twenty years while the man who "accidently" shot his friend is out in seven for good behavior?

William, you don't think if all these men (since more than 90% of perpetrators of violent crimes are male) knew they would love the family jewels they would be less likely to offend? Especially after their first round in the system?

Sheesh, if that sort of threat wouldn't work, then there is no hope at all.

What an exchange of opinion and information! I support the death penalty in a murder scenario if the killer is guilty beyond any shadow of a doubt. I also think that doctor assisted suicide is a terminally ill patient's right. I think that the prisons are too full, and our system needs fixing but for right this minute it's what we've got. I liked someone's opinion on prison cuts :) let our teacher's keep their jobs and the prisoner's can go without cable or a law degree.

Coddling criminals, guilty ones that is, has been the outcome of plea deals, payoffs and other manipulations in our justice system.
Life sentences vs death penalty verdicts will only be ultimate correct sentences will only be successful when honor becomes the rigueur.
A lot of valuable insights here..proud to be able to read the discussions.

I do believe we have the best system in the world, and as a first generation American, I was taught that lesson well. But, it's the best because our Founding Fathers afforded for change in the future, and for the fact that we're allowed to talk about what we think is wrong. I sadly admit to understanding little about the law; I wish there was a way to implement a system in which the murderer really received a life sentence--no good behavior, etc.--the victim will never "get out" on good behavior, and that killers received such sentences. Sometimes, a white collar criminal gets twenty years--and someone who shot and killed people, cut them up . . . walks away in seven because of good behavior. And what about the immunity deals? Look at the Karla Homolka case!

I am against the death penalty for pragmatic reasons.

1) It's MUCH more expensive to execute someone than to incarcerate them for life because of the appeals process, and you can't execute someone without an appeals process because there are no do overs once they are dead.

2) Speaking of no do overs, you can't release an exonerated person from the state of being dead.

3) I do not believe it is applied consistently or fairly.

SO. There tis.

Sadly, Karen, no. The circuits are already shorted out, and castration would simply mean that an implement or something worse would be used instead. It's not about sex; it's about anger, it's about rage, it's about power, it's a way of not feeling helpless (at least in their minds.)

Isn't there a pill that will give someone a massive migraine if they get sexually excited? With or without the family jewels, I think that would be a nice solution. Whether it's about sex or whether it's about violence.

Or am I just flashing back to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE? or maybe I'm thinking of Spike's implanted chip in BUFFY.

Seriously, William, thank you for that list. Very powerful.

The payoff is in the power. It's all about control.

Thank god for the Innocence Project. The death penalty should be prohibited by federal law. It should not be a "states' rights" matter.

I am and have always been strongly opposed to the death penalty.

There's a huge case going on in Connecticut right now, for the second of two brutal home-invasion killers. The first has already been convicted and sentenced to death. The second trial will likely result in the same outcome.

I wonder if I would have the courage to pick up a sign and picket the execution, in the face of the grief of the husband and father of the three murder victims, who witnessed and survived the murders. If someone had killed my loved ones,I can only imagine my rage.

These men, whose guilt is not in question, no doubt deserve to die. But I don't believe that this gives us (and, as a society, it will indeed be US) the right to kill them.

It's not always an easy opinion to hold.

I am in my 80's and for as long as I can remember, the death penalty has been the subject of hundreds of formal debates. The pro's and con's have not really changed over all those years. There are so many things to say in defense of either position. I personally change my mind on the subject about once a year. I guess the safest thing to do is to ban the death penalty so that no innocent person is executed, but it should be clearly stated that he has no right to sue.

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