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July 18, 2006


Do you have any evidence of your assertion that most Americans do not support the death penalty for moral reasons alone? Also, what would those moral reasons be?

I have always read and heard that most Americans support the death penalty. If that is the case, then a significant portion of those would have to support the death penalty for other reasons, such as a deterrent factor. Has a polling been done on that question - i.e. "Would you support the death penalty if it did not have any deterrent effect?"

I don't think that the death penalty is a deterrent. People who are considering murder are always sure they won't get caught "as they are too clever". Look at how many murders occur in the US annually. If someone is out for murder, not much will stop them. My concern is that life in prison does not mean life in prison. Why is Manson and Sirhan Sirhan up for parole?

Kit Burn:
In the case of Manson and Sirhan... I believe they are up for parole due to the fact that at the time of conviction there was no such thing as life w/out parole in the state law. It is my understanding (though I could be wrong) that the law was changed after they were convicted. But... they are grandfathered in, so hence the parole option.

In other words this is a technicality of state law and really mute in the overall argument of life in prison vs. death penalty.

In addtion most states w/ the death penalty have a law that requires the case to be appealed. So the defendent ends up in a multi year process that can cost as much and sometimes more than if they had simply been sentenced to life w/o parole.

David B:
On the front of American supporting or not supporting the death penalty depends on how the question is asked. It's not a simple yes/no. Most Americans (in my opinion) support it either on grounds of prevention and/or abilty to contain the violence. In other words remove the killer so he can't kill again, and it will serve as a lesson to others. The problem is that neither really works. Most murders are acts of passion (serial killers are rare) and because of that, a death penalty doesn't really prevent future murders. (again my opion based on various readings of the topic.)

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