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Why texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

Death penalty rate declines across nation, but holds steady here.
(Chronicle login: semods4@yahoo.com; pw = speakeasy)

>>Hirschhorn and other legal experts point to the distinct sentencing laws here. Most states ask jurors to choose between death or a sentence of life without parole. In Texas, however, jurors are given only the option of a death sentence or a life sentence that allows for possible parole after 40 years in prison.<<
And for two consecutive sessions, Republicans have blocked the "life without parole" option that's typical in most of the country (New Mexico is the only other state that doesn't have that sentence; In Florida, death sentences have been cut in half since 1994, when life without parole became an option for jurors to consider).

>>Some [Republican!] legislators and prosecutors, including Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, believe it could be a dangerous policy, creating a population of hopeless inmates who would become violent without possible parole as an incentive to behave.<< However, states that offer life without parole report such increase in prison violence.

How is it that those who claim to espouse "Biblical values" have such a problem with "vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord?"

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!
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Hate! NT

In reply to: Why texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

q

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Hi caktus, they fixed it so we dont have to type 'NT'

In reply to: Hate! NT

when theres no text in the body of the message -- Its automatic! Happy

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(NT) (NT) Finally!

In reply to: Hi caktus, they fixed it so we dont have to type 'NT'

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Because most

In reply to: Why texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

more firmly believe in 'an eye for an eye'....and nearly all 'cowboy' states lived it every day. As the West was being habitated, there weren't any jails or prisons to hold the bad guys and 'justice' was swift. The mentality of most now is that if the bad guys have a right to a speedy trial, they should also have the right to a quick death sentence and the hell with the long term appeal process. I happen to agree.

TONI

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(NT) (NT) 'eye for an eye' is for the blind!

In reply to: Because most

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Re: (NT) 'eye for an eye' is for the blind!

In reply to: (NT) 'eye for an eye' is for the blind!

I was listening to the radio a few years ago, when the guy being interviewed was some kind of scholar on religion. He was explaining that the "eye for an eye" biz got started as a call for moderation in punishments. People were getting outrageous punishments for small crimes. So, the 'eye for an eye' thing was meant as an appeal to make the punishment more appropriate to the crime.

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Re: Why texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

In reply to: Why texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

Maybe many people in Texas, like me, think it is OK the way it is. Why spend so much money, what is it.. $50-70 a day to keep a prisoner for 40 years, or the same amount for life that may run an expense of 70+ years. Well, I personally may have difficulty condemning someone to death, but I also personally believe some should not live after committing their crime.

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Also read an article in the newspaper...

In reply to: Re: Why texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

a few months ago, about our Texas aged prisoners and their health problems. The cost is way up there. After 40 years it seems to me it would save the state $$ for the nation (US Govt), to pick up their health care with Medicare or Medicade. Hmmm...life without parole...

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Ive heard that it cost more to go through years of appeals

In reply to: Also read an article in the newspaper...

than to put a person behind bars for life. I personally dont care either way, but if itll save money, that might sway me to leave'em in and throw away the key. I sometimes wonder if thats not a fate worse than death.

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Re: Why Texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

Hi, John.

The strongest argument against the death penalty is the large number who end up on death row improperly. It's about 50% in Illinois (hence the moratorium), and Illinois has much better legal aid for indigents than most of Texas.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Improperly....or rather mistakenly?

In reply to: Re: Why Texas still leads the nation in death penalty cases

Improperly could be a loophole technicality that a defense lawyer discovered vs mistakenly because the person was actually proven to be innocent of the crime. There is a vast difference between the two, and I believe that unless a huge-able-to-drive-a-tank-through-it loophole that would actually reverse the verdict is found, the appeals process awarded is too darn long and drawn out and should be cut to no more than seven years after sentencing.

Most of those on death row know that if they wait it out long enough, there is a better chance of having all death sentences reduced to life in prison terms and they will beat the grim reaper. Much better odds than they ever gave their victims, doncha think?

We have become so freaking concerned with prisoners' rights that the victims' rights have been stomped on all over the place and most times not even been given a backwards glance during the appeals process.

Shorten the appeals process to something reasonable and use the execution method more frequently and the victims get justice rather than a mockery of it. As long as killers believe that they will be supported for the rest of their lives in jail, or that an appeals process that carries on for such a long period of time that their death sentence will become null and void (and can't be reversed even if the State brings back that death penalty), it will continue to send the message to the streets that killers get off so there isn't a deterrent. Give the victims back that deterrent and justice.

Or put all the killers into ONE prison, with no way to escape, and NO jailers, and little by little as they have to fend for themselves and protect themselves from each other, they will wipe each other out and save us the trouble. Most prisons are self-sufficient regarding growing their own food and making their own clothes so let 'em figure it out...they either survive 'as the fittest' or they die at each others' hands 'as the weakest'. Sooner or later, a bigger and badder will be dumped in among them and the cycle begins again.

TONI

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And your point is???

In reply to: ...or both.

This is exactly what I was talking about regarding 'innocent' vs 'improper'.

TONI

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Re: And your point is???

In reply to: And your point is???

My point is that any system that is designed to take a person's life has got to work much better than the system now in place. If the person is wrongly killed by the state there is little difference to them that the mistake was innocent rather than improper. Mistakes of any type must be extremely rare. Certainly a 70% mistake rate is bit hight even for the most bloodthirsty among us. At least I hope it is.

My goal is to be as sure as is humanly possible that no one is wrongly killed by the state and that all proceeding are as fair and equitable as we can make them. I'm sure you share that goal. The current system fails on both counts.

Dan

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70% rate??

In reply to: Re: And your point is???

I don't know what was on the page you linked in your earlier post - it wouldn't open for me - but I've never seen anybody claim that only 30% of the people on death row were guilty.

Although I agree that a high error rate is a barrier to ethical use of the death penalty, I'd rather see the question focus on innocence vs guilt rather than on procedural issues. The Illinois innocence project did sometimes focus on actual innocence, and their results are troubling, but actual innocence has not always been the focus of the research done by others.

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Yup, 70%

In reply to: 70% rate??

That's the percentage of convictions that have errors significant enough to cause reversal of the decision. The percentage of people on death row who actually committed the crime in question is unknowable.

New studies of the legal system contributed to a rising tide of concern across the United States . Professor James Liebman of Columbia University School of Law studied twenty-three years of capital cases and found reversible error in seven of every ten capital sentences. He found so many mistakes, he concluded there are ?grave doubts whether we do catch them all.? When Professor Liebman looked at Illinois , he found the overall rate of serious error in capital sentences to be 66 percent, slightly lower than the national average of 68 percent. Professor Liebman concluded that ?flaws in America 's death-penalty system have reached crisis proportions.?

Innocence is an interesting concept, but not one that interests the criminal justice system. There is not process for finding someone innocent, just for finding someone guilty or not. That process is far too flawed to base life and death decisions on.

Dan

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It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other cases

In reply to: Yup, 70%

A claim of 70% error rate (worse than flipping a coin to decide the jury verdict) strikes me as somewhat hard to believe.

I wonder what kind of error rate they claim for routine non-capital prosecutions?

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Keep in mind ...

In reply to: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other cases

... who is determining instances of "reversible error" here, and defining it for the purposes of their study. Even if one gives the benefit of the doubt that there were indeed reversible errors, there is no indication that the outcomes of the trials would have necessarily been impacted. But getting back to what defines such error in the first place, I tend to be cynical and believe that any ruling that went against the defense might end up on that list.

Evie Happy

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I shudder to think.

In reply to: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other cases

Bear in mind that reversible errors do not necessarily imply that the defendant was exonerated, just that there were sufficient reasons to withdraw support for the original verdict. That's my understanding.

Dan

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Re: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other c

In reply to: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other cases

If the rate is that bad (70%) makes you wonder if we'd be better off to do away with juries, have 3 judge tribunals and be done with it.

I don't believe that really, but if anyone could prove that 70% of the convictions are wrong, I'd have to say the jury system sucked.

I don't know, but I strongly suspect that rate is not related to guilt or innocence, but to procedures and technical errors.

It would be bad if only 70% are right, if 70% are wrong, you might as well roll dice or flip a coin for trial.

RogerNC

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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Re: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other c

In reply to: Re: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other c

The rate is for cases with reversible error, not for exoneration of the defendant. A reversible error is one so significant that it requires the decision in the case be reversed or retried or otherwise amended.

A tribunal system of some type would avoid many of the errors cased by failures of the jurors, the jury pool, or the selection process. It would not address many other issues such as police and prosecutorial misconduct and the imbalance of defense and prosecution resources.

Dan
Dan

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Re: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other c

In reply to: Re: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other c

But a tribunal system wouldn't give the guareentee of a trail by a "jury of your peers". Not that I don't recognize that has problems too.

My comment was more in relation to the notion that 70% of all convictions had reversal errors. If that is the case, the system is worse than the defend yourself procedure of the frontier west.

RogerNC

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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(NT) (NT) Sad but true.

In reply to: Re: It makes one wonder what the error rate is in in other c

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Re: The jury system

Hi, Roger.

The problem isn't the jury system, it's the combination of an overworked police force and shortcuts being taken to convict the guy they (and the prosecutors) "know" is guilty. A good start would be to completely bar testimony from jailhouse informants without a tape or similar substantiating evidence.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Re: The jury system...is like a hospital half full of

In reply to: Re: The jury system

Quacks! I've stood on juries only to find many jurors eager to convict innocent's because of thier race, nationality, social status, etc.

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Re: the error rate is in in other cases

Hi, Dr. Bill.

Unfortunately, the error rate is probably much HIGHER for capital than non-capital cases. Why? Because the capital cases are so high-profile -- there's much more pressure on the cops to "solve" the case, and on the prosecutor to obtain a conviction (and in Texas, the death penalty -- I live here, and any time someone "only" gets life for murder, there are aspersions cast at the prosecutor). There's no such pressure in most less important cases (possible exceptions being rape and related crimes), so there's less chance that some handy defendant who was at the wrong place at the wrong time (often a criminal, but not guilty in THIS case, less frequently completely innocent) will be "fitted up" for the crime.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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"Any time" in Texas Dave??

In reply to: Re: the error rate is in in other cases

Re your statement:
"(and in Texas, the death penalty -- I live here, and any time someone "only" gets life for murder, there are aspersions cast at the prosecutor)."

Maybe in your vacation city of Galveston, or the nearby city of Houston you may yourself personally cast aspersions at the prosecutor. I live in San Antonio and have never noted aspersions cast at the prosecutor by newspaper articles or anyone when someone gets life for murder.

Come on Dave....still another jab at Texas.

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It would help to have some clarification

In reply to: Yup, 70%

For example, are these stats about people who have exhausted their appeals? Or are you talking about errors that are found during the appeals process? OR, is it about errors discovered long after sentencing has been carried out?

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Re: It would help to have some clarification

In reply to: It would help to have some clarification

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Deaths in hospitals

In reply to: Re: And your point is???

Consider a new study indicating that an average of 195,000 people die each year in American hospitals due to potentially preventable medical errors. This alarming statistic comes after researchers reviewed records of 37 million hospitalizations. In fact, the report, by Health Grades, Inc., which assesses hospital safety, finds that one in four Medicare patients who experienced a hospital error died as a result of it.

Deaths in England Due to Medical Errors up 500%

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