Palo Alto takes a stand against death penalty Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Oct 2, 2012 at 8:24 am
Palo Alto thrust itself into a statewide debate over the death penalty Monday night when the City Council emphatically endorsed a proposal to abolish the practice, which officials characterized as both morally and financially crippling.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 6:20 AM
Posted by corporations are people, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Oct 2, 2012 at 8:24 am
The Mitt says corporations are people. I'll believe that when he starts pushing the death penalty for corrupt corporations. Start with corporations like Bain that keep laying off Americans and pushing jobs offshore.
Posted by Waste of Time, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:13 am
This is what the council spends their time doing at council meetings? No wonder te city is run like a car with no gas or oil. Here's a thought, discuss things that will help PA not be a craphole like California is quickly becoming
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:24 am
I used to be strongly against the death penalty. However, I have begun to rethink this in certain cases.
It seems that the ultimate punishment is fitting for certain crimes where the criminal does not deny what he did and the evidence is overwhelming.
I am thinking of the Connecticut case where two men who shot a father and killed a mother and two daughters (two underage) by burning them alive after raping them.
Life at taxpayers expense is just too good for individuals like this. Opponents of capital punishment argue that it is too expensive to implement. However, they are counting the appeals process -- which they will likely use anyway given a life sentence.
For animals like the men in the Connecticut case, the price of execution can be nothing more than a stiff rope. It would save taxpayers the burden of supporting them for 60 years (at a cost per year that is the equivalent to a lower middle class job per murderous inmate).
I also strongly believe that there should be "levels" of punishment in prison. Those who are convicted murderers and rapists should enjoy dungeon-like conditions for the duration of their life sentences. If they have any privileges at all, they should be earned only by confessing to crimes (such as telling where the bodies are located) and good behavior.
BTW, the first poster is ranting again about Mitt Romney. This is about CAPITAL PUNISHMENT and not the posters political persuasion and ridiculous rants about a financial services company that, despite the propaganda, has helped many more businesses than it has ever "laid off" or "pushed jobs offshore." Please leave the Bain Capital rhetoric to threads about, well, presidential politics or corporate regulation.
Posted by Phil, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:40 am
I too am opposed to the death penalty on a personal level. With that opinion in mind, I reflect on the business our city council occupies itself with. They state that the death penalty is both "morally and financially crippling". Here's another thing that is equally if not more crippling to our city. It is our elected officials expending wasted time and energy on an issue such as this, and not setting some priorities and focusing on the true challenges at hand.
They have made what amounts to nothing more than a symbolic statement. Now tell us what you plan to do with the budget deficit, a growing financial crisis, as well as vital infrastructure and public safety needs. The actions and time spent must match the priorities that have been set. Anything less sends an irresponsible and completely out of touch message.
Posted by musical, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:09 am
Well, yes, council attended to all other business first, before coming to this agenda item nearing 11pm. While all agreed there are moral aspects, and it seemed to me that those persuasive arguments were the motivating factor, the expressed excuse for council endorsement of Prop 34 was fiscal, in the tangential hope that Palo Alto might benefit along with the rest of California in the supposed $7 billion savings through 2050, or at least receive our share of the $30 million to be distributed in each of the next three years for law enforcement (though these funds appear to be earmarked for jurisdictions with much higher rates of murder and sexual assault).
I wouldn't expect to see any savings materialize. The lawyers will always stay busy. All those presently on death row will be retroactively commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole, just like Sirhan Sirhan got off death row in 1972 and now comes up for parole every five years.
We can look forward to seeing Cary Stayner again.
Except, as Prop 34 proponents lament, voters are in the mood to vote NO on every proposition without even reading them.
Posted by Concerned Retiree, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:42 am
Sorry, but there are some people which our civilization is better off without. Execution of those who have committed heinous murders should be a given. What That execution costs more than life in a cage is driven by our unending appeals process and the ironic concern that these criminals may feel pain in the process.
The Palo Alto Council often confuses its mission to govern with an urge to lecture about moral judgements.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:00 am
I find it morally wrong for people to make the choice that they should receive the death penalty by choosing to KILL other people. I find it morally wrong that people in prison get to still have a LIFE while their victims have received death. I find it morally wrong that Tex Watson, of Manson notoriety, has gone on, while in prison, to marry, to have children and an online ministry, while his victims moulder in the ground. I find it morally wrong that pedophiles who have killed children, have been able to get out and take the life of more children. Pedophilia has a 99% recidivism rate. I hear how Amnesty International wants more RIGHTS for prisoners, while not taking a moment to consider the rights denied to the VICTIMS.
Every day that a convicted killer lives, breathes, laughs, cries, eats, drinks, see's the sun, see's the moon, is a day that's been robbed from their victims. Why should such privileges be extended to the people who made that choice?
I agree the death penalty should be tightened up. A higher burden of proof, fewer appeals, faster process. But, in the worst cases, such as someone said above, what happened in Connecticut, there is no other acceptable solution. No one has the right to take away another person's life without knowing they may be forfeiting their own.
And last, SHUT UP PALO ALTO. You do NOT have my permission to speak for me, a 39 year resident of this City. You want to speak out against something? Do it under your own, individual names. Such a precedent is unsettling. A city should not speak for it's residents, unless it did a lot of upfront polling to see how the majority feels.
Posted by Chris Bernstien, a resident of another community, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:01 am
The 729 on death row murdered at least 1,279 people, with 230 children. 43 were police officers. 211 were raped, 319 were robbed, 66 were killed in execution style, and 47 were tortured. 11 murdered other inmates.
The arguments in support of Pro. 34, the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty, are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and false.
No “savings.” Alleged savings ignore increased life-time medical costs for aging inmates and require decreased security levels and housing 2-3 inmates per cell rather than one. Rather than spending 23 hours/day in their cell, inmates will be required to work. These changes will lead to increased violence for other inmates and guards and prove unworkable for these killers. Also, without the death penalty, the lack of incentive to plead the case to avoid the death penalty will lead to more trial and related costs and appeals.
No “accountability.” Max earnings for any inmate would amount to $383/year (assuming 100% of earnings went to victims), divided by number of qualifying victims. Hardly accounts for murdering a loved one.
No “full enforcement” as 729 inmates do not receive penalty given them by jurors. Also, for the 34,000 inmates serving life sentences, there will be NO increased penalty for killing a guard or another inmate. They’re already serving a life sentence.
Liberals are also trying to get rid of life sentences. (Human Rights Watch, Old Behind Bars, 2012.) This would lead to possible paroles for not only the 729 on death row, but the 34,000 others serving life sentences. On 9/30/12, Brown passed the first step, signing a bill to allow 309 inmates with life sentences for murder to be paroled after serving as little as 15 years. Life without parole is meaningless. Remember Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. Convicted killers get out and kill again, such as Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps.
Arguments of innocence bogus. Can’t identify one innocent person executed in CA. Can’t identify one person on CA’s death row who has exhausted his appeals and has a plausible claim of innocence. See Web Link
Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:29 am
This is the kind of B.S. that really makes me feel like I *need* to run for City Council. Believe me, I have no desire to do so, but it's almost an obligation at this point given how unfocused & bone-headed our current City Council is. Geez.
Posted by Bob , a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:30 am
The Palo Alto City Council was NOT elected to persuade pro or con on state or Federal issues. It does a poor job of running this city, and it does NOT/may not speak for the residents on those issues. $100M? was that the carrot the Council wanted to munch on? This bunch couldn't run a village. I read that years ago during the Vietnam War, the council debated at length to ban any Palo Alto business from selling anything to the military- and that included Hewlett-Packard, Varian, and others. A message to the council: MIND OUR BUSINESS. Your actions are arrogant.
Posted by RT, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:50 am
I am picturing a cartoon of the Titanic sinking except it is labeled 'Palo Alto' hitting an iceberg labeled 'Pension Costs' and the entire City Council is on-deck congratulating themselves for supporting a ban on the death penalty
Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm
I'm sorry - but I must have missed it when our city council decided to (d)evolve and become the Berkeley and/or the San Francisco City Council...wasting time on issues that have nothing to do with running our city.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm
@ da Big Man
Interesting question. Since you are asked, you might take the words of Paul and Peter at face value:
Paul answered: "I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these men are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!" - Acts 25:10-11
"Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." - I Peter 2:13-14
"For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good.
But if you do evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the evildoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." - Romans 13:3-5
So, it is possible that Paul and Peter saw the necessity of capital punishment of evildoers as a fitting consequence to a capital crime.
Posted by Paly Student, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm
There is little, if any, moral justification for capital punishment. Providing examples of horrific murders is not sufficient justification. It's a cheap political move.
The reality is that if you had been born Darryl Thomas Kemp, Kenneth Allen McDuff, and Bennie Demps, you would have been these people. You would have been born with the same brain, the same body, and the same flawed soul. These people have committee terrible crimes, but they had no more free will to be born future murderers than you and I had to be born who we are. As far as we're concerned, anyone could have been born a murderer.
We should be thankful that we were born with sane minds, we should grieve for the unfortunate victims among us, and we should terminate human life only when it poses an active threat to humans and cannot easily be captured (e.g. Bin Laden). But we should not execute a man, who poses no more threat in captivity, simply to "correct" a wrong.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm
a neo-con is a liberal who got mugged. "Paly Student" is probably too young to understand the suffereing caused by the killers.
As for our city council, they can probably understand it, but it has not happened in their families, so it can exist as a theoretical issue. I was opposed to the death penalty, too, until my niece was raped and murdered. Now I get it.
Capital punishment is not murder, it is justice.
Our city council should butt out of this issue. They know nothing.
Posted by Jan H., a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm
As a longtime Buddhist, I had always been against the death penalty just because humans do not have the right to take another life for any reason. It seemed completely uncivilized.
Now, I just do not know if that argument is valid. If a criminal has been proven beyond doubt , with DNA evidence, to be guilty of first degree murder, why should he get the luxury of life imprisonment, when he denied that to his victim(s)? When (s)he caused unspeakable pain, hardship, and endless grief to the family of the victim?
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm
@ da Big Man:
That is silly. You are comparing the United States executing MURDERERS and RAPISTS with the political and religious executions in Communist and Islamic states?
You asked "WWJD?" and I provided the answer from the Bible.
"Justice" matters...and it is unjust to let a murderous rapist or serial killer who inflicted unspeakable terror on his victims LIVE for decades at taxpayers' expense.
That said: I would also like to see the death penalty limited to cases where it was UNDENIABLY premeditated murder or murder accompanied by another crime (like rape). I have come to the conclusion that justice should prevail...but only when that justice is both blind and guilt is undeniable.
Posted by Jury Trials Not Fool Proof, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm
> Convicted killers are not innocent.
Unfortunately, “convicted killers” often are found guilty with faulty evidence, circumstantial evidence, and sometimes, even manufactured evidence. The whole trial-by-jury system is fraught with numerous problems, and periodically—people convicted of murder are subsequently found innocent.
This “indictment” of our justice system does not mean that every convicted “killer” is innocent, but it does open the door to a small margin of error—which means that periodically, innocent people are executed for crimes they did not commit.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm
We are having two debates here.
Firstly, I think it is interesting debating the death penalty here on Town Square. I would like to join the discussion quotes from the Bible with those interested, Peter and Paul's quotes are interesting but they are not the same as what Jesus said about turning the other cheek and rendering to Ceasar.
However, the thread is about our City Council taking time to debate this issue which is not a City issue. The talk about the costs is little more than a red herring. The City Council should be dealing with City issues, not moral or State issues. They were not elected to deal with moral issues or State issues. They were not elected to put the world to rights. They were elected to deal with City issues. They were elected to attempt to put Palo Alto's issues to rights, or at least to the forefront of their energies.
Those who wish to debate the death penalty are free to do it, but not as a City issue. Our City council can do what they like in their free time, but please do not take council time, energy or resources to do so.
Posted by Bob , a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm
I meant to say...left out a word.((Motto: don't type when you are seething angry).
Posted by Bob , a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, 4 hours ago
The Palo Alto City Council was NOT elected to persuade pro or con on state or Federal issues. It does a poor job of running this city, and it does NOT/may not speak for the residents on those issues. $100M? was that the carrot the Council wanted to munch on? This bunch couldn't run a village. I read that years ago during the Vietnam War, the council debated at length to ban any Palo Alto business from selling anything to the military- and that included Hewlett-Packard, Varian, and others. A message to the council: MIND OUR CIVIC BUSINESS. Your actions are arrogant. PS. Seems also they can't do anything without consulting a consultant or doing an expensive study. Next thing you know,they'll use card readers and hold seances.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm
>>>Agree with Ruth and others who are saying how inappropriate it is for Palo Alto to represent the beliefs of ANYONE without polling or surveying a large sample of residents.
Also agree with what was answered about Paly student. I also once was idealistic and full of benevolence and wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to others. Now, I'm considerably older and have learned,unfortunately the hard way, just what people can do to one another out of sheer malice.
Posted by Dennis, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm
The council represent the people of Palo Alto and are under no legal restraint regarding expressions of support and/or opposition to ballot propositions. If a position is taken which is not shared by the people of Palo Alto, then the people can make their dissatisfaction felt at the next election.
Personally, I think the death penalty should be available to the convicted as an option to serving a term of life w/o parole.
Perhaps death penalty advocates would agree to a compromise sentence of life w/o parole plus mandatory listening to recorded council meetings.
Posted by musical, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm
Several commenters seem to have an inordinate view of the time spent. This endorsement was a 10-minute dessert among a few diehards after a 4-hour heavy meal of housing, traffic, and other governance issues with up to 110 people present in the audience earlier. It would have been a much greater waste of resources to survey the residents, and probably more divisive. We get to vote in November.
Posted by dont_agree_with_action, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm
I thought it was WWBD? (and that the poster mis-typed ;-)
Be that as it may, I don't feel that this issue is or should be appropriate for the Palo Alto City Council to be taking up, much less voting on. What makes them think that they represent the citizens of Palo Alto on this point. Let them independently (as a group or not) write a letter to the editor of some newspaper expressing their opinion.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm
>an inordinate view of the time spent
Yes, there is much too much time with appeals, the purpose of which is to to prevent justice in California. Since my niece was raped and murdered, in California, I have been in touch with other victims' families. Those families in Texas get justice, and a sense of finality; we, in California are left to dangle. The pain is enormous, but I suppose you all just need to walk in our shoes. Our city council has no clue about the emotional pain.
The death penalty, without a lot of delay is justice.
Posted by life imprisonment?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm
I'm skeptical when the California state government "promises" it will be life imprisonment without parole. Betcha they get out under various loopholes.
Kind of like "the lottery is for the KIDS...the SCHOOLS! It will solve all their budget problems!"
I DO listen to victims/survivors of horrific crimes -- which is what these criminals have done (those on death row)and the ones I've heard in the media are concerned about getting rid of the penalty - gee, Richard Allen Davis ((Polly Klaas - victim) is still sitting snug after all these years...
Posted by Paly Student, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm
@Disgusted and Ruth
Just because you are "older and learned" and just because you finally realized "what people can do to one another out of sheer malice" does not justify capital punishment.
My aversion to capital punishment is not based on my personal experiences (or lack of) but my belief in determinism (lack of free will). Also, I want to be clear that I am not giving the benefit of the doubt to murderers. Heinous crimes are committed and there is no denying that they are heinous.
Again, my point was that if YOU had been born the person who grow up to murder your niece, you (or anyone else) would have done the same thing. And there's no denying that. You would have been that person and thus done everything he/she did. Fate has simply ordained that you would not be born a killer.
Because people have no control over who they were born (and whether they would grow up to be "terrible" persons), I do not believe is that people should not be executed by the state. Our system of justice should focus on the cold facts: Heinous crimes are committed. Some people have a greater propensity to commit heinous crimes. Some people are extremely unlucky to have fallen victims to them.
Justice has to be about protecting people from heinous crimes while helping those who were born unlucky. We need to remove murderers from society not out of vengeance but for the safety of others. We need to do our best to reform broken persons, since it was not their fault that they were born who they are, and we should only release them when it has been ascertained that they pose no threat to society. And the state should only kill when removing the person from society cannot be done without harming other innocent persons.
If you disagree, please point out what flaws you see in my logic. But please do not use personal anecdotes to make your point.
Posted by Ruth, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm
>My aversion to capital punishment is not based on my personal experiences
'paly student', you have stated your position, that you have no personal experience. You are young, and naive, and I think most of us adults get that. Once you have experienced the pain from losing a loved one to a monster, or being close to a family that has experienced this horror, get back to us.
Posted by Distraction, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm
"This endorsement was a 10-minute dessert"
I assume the was staff present and security as well. 10 minutes with a lot of paid employees about can actually be quite expensive. Now add to that that they have their opinions on the subject has no impact on the outcome of the debate on the subject. This is just a foolish waste of resources on a topic that is irrelevant in their forum. Now show me one muncipal code violation that carries the death penalty and then I will consider it time well spent. They were just pandering to their constituents, not getting the city's work done.
Posted by Berkleyization of Palo Alto, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm
How about Palo Alto's council try doing a decent job of running the city rather than moralizing like the clowns in Berkeley.
I don't think the city gov't has any business taking a position on this either way, but I must note the breathtaking dishonesty of the death penalty campaign. Death Penalty opponents have put up infinite numbers of absurd procedural loopholes that directly flout the express will of their fellow citizens on juries. These multiple and unnecessary procedural objections (plus the ridiculous salaries of prison guards) are what have made the cost of the death penalty soar. I can respect sincere opposition to the death penalty as a moral issue-- but the deceit and dishonesty of most of the campaigners against capital punishment is nauseating.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm
@ Paly Student:
No one is born a murderer. No one is born "unlucky" to the point that they must murder someone. It is a choice.
A person's childhood, genes, bad parents, poverty, race, racism, bullying, etc... cannot be an excuse for violence -- let alone a VIOLENT CAPITAL MURDER.
Remember: There are varying degrees in crime. There is manslaughter, negligent homicide, third degree murder, second degree murder and first degree murder. Capital crimes are deserving of capital punishment.
It is the victims (and victims' families) decision whether or not to forgive. This forgiveness is not a legal matter. Therefore, it is the responsibility of a society's law to dispense justice.
I do appreciate your interest in this! Please continue to participate in these types of discussions with your fellow residents of Palo Alto!
I agree with other posters who question why our City Council even bothered with this. Their "opinion" does not represent the residents of the city -- especially since they didn't poll the residents of Palo Alto.
Why does the City Council feel a need to take a "stand" on the moral justification of the Law of the State of California (and the United States) when there is no platform our group of elected council members to stand upon in the first place?
What is the motivation of the council to even vote on this in the first place?
Who are they representing with this vote?
They obviously do not represent all of us.
Why take the time to take a stand without bringing it to the residents that they are supposed to represent?
As Sharon said, there are many issues affecting this nation. Most of us have differing opinions in regard to them. However, it is not the responsibility of our elected City Council to voice such opinions in the first place ESPECIALLY since we did not empower them to represent us in this manner.
Like someone else said, it almost seems like they are trying to showcase their willingness to "take a stand" like Berkeley.
This vote is as meaningless as a newspaper's endorsement of a candidate, party, proposition or piece of legislation. However, a newspaper has the fortitude to explain that it is the majority view of the editorial board for any such position and then explain just why.
Our City Council is not elected for this. Like one of the previous posters said, we need to be careful before our elected council members turn city council meetings into "newsworthy" efforts to appear "progressively cutting edge" like the circus bandwagon in Berkeley. There are enough issues in Palo Alto to focus upon without taking upon ourselves issues like this.
Posted by Paly Student, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:33 pm
"No one is born a murderer. No one is born "unlucky" to the point that they must murder someone. It is a choice."
That depends on whether you believe in free will. Most scientists, however, would back me up on this: You do NOT have "control" over any of your actions. Everything in this world — your life, your interactions, and even the activity in your brain — is one large physical reaction. You are just an observer of the life you were born into. To think that you can control your actions is to think you can suspend the laws of physics. Let me ask you a question: Can you control over what you think next? (The answer is no.)
Again, I stand by what I said: if you had been born the man/woman who became murderer you would have done what he did. How could you have done anything differently?
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2012 at 11:43 pm
@ Paly Student:
That is simply untrue. There IS such a thing as free will. You don't HAVE to commit violence. You can "walk away" and even seek "help" if you feel that you are prone to such a thing. You can't use a silly excuse that "murder is in my genes."
You say that "most scientists will back you up." Okay then: Prove it. Gather all of the evidence that you can find to support your hypothesis that individuals cannot control their behavior to the point of murder in the first degree.
Posted by Keep studying, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 12:28 am
Determinism is an easy argument to defend and a cop out to say we are what we are and cannot decide any of our own fate. This is simply a false premise. And still it does not excuse the fact that that they should not be punished for their actions, free will or not. This is logic. Control is not the issue, the severity of the punishment is. If your ideas were widely accepted, then we could weed out these offenders at an early age and send them away to avoid the pain and suffering of so many people they will inevitably hurt, since it is already determined they will do so.
And yes, council are idiots for even touching this. What are they thinking?
Posted by Alice Smith, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 12:33 am
I am proud of the City of Palo Alto for recognizing (a) the cost ($130 million per year) on death penalty cases and the lack of spending on vital services such as processing DNA in unsolved rape cases and murders (b) the fact that 300 or more Americans have been exonerated who had spent years in prison for charges for which they were wrongfully convicted and (c) the inhumanity of the death penalty. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, No Korea are our bedfellows for having the death penalty. Europe eliminated it more than 20 years ago.
From both a moral and an economic standpoint the death penalty is ineffective, costly, and just plain bad use of our resources. This is a city and as the County of Santa Clara showed, a county issue.
Your reporter provided an accurate review of the evening. No one supported the death penalty. Too bad your readers weren't watching the City Council on public TV or there.
Posted by Paly Student, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 1:00 am
Tell me how there can be such a thing as free will when you can't control what you think next. If you can't control what you think next, how do you have control over any of your actions? You say that a murderer didn't "have to committee violence," but that's just false. Do you honestly think if rewound time to the moment right before the murder, and pressed "play" things could have happened differently? No: same initial circumstances = same results!
You really should read up about determinism (and free will) since you completely missed the point of my argument. I was not saying that murder was in your "genes". I am saying that every action in the world — every interaction bet it on atomic, subatomic, or human scale — is caused by what occurs immediately before.
Countless people have written about free will. You can google it. There are plenty of articles in the Scientific American, The Stone (NY Times), Psychology Today. Just google the words "free will" and "illusion."
How is it a false premise that we cannot decide our own fates? You can't just say that's a false premise and not back up your claim.
Same with your other points:
Why should they be punished for their actions? Reason?
Why is control not the issue but the severity of punishment? Reason?
And yes, in an ideal world, we would identify the persons most likely to offend at an early age and provide the correct rehabilitation so that they do not commit these crimes. In the future we will have a better understanding of why some people commit crimes and will be able to prevent them in time.
Posted by musical, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:03 am
@Paly Student, technically the same initial circumstances, no matter how precise, do not equal the same results. Physicists wrestled with this 100 years ago. Quantum mechanics is heavy on a statistical interpretation. If you pursue a career in neuroscience, don't go down the same path as James E. Holmes.
@Alice, thank you for contributing some balance here.
Posted by Dudley Sharp, a resident of another community, on Oct 3, 2012 at 4:49 am
Jesus and the death penalty
God/Jesus: ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.’ Matthew 15:4
This is a New Testament command, which references several of the same commands from God, in the same circumstance, from the OT.
Jesus: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Jesus) replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43
It is not the nature of our deaths, but the state of salvation at the time of death which is most important.
Jesus: “So Pilate said to (Jesus), “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered (him), “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.” John 19:10-11
The power to execute comes directly from God.
Jesus: “You have heard the ancients were told, ˜YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court”. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca”, shall be guilty before the supreme court and whoever shall say, “You fool”, shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.” Matthew 5:17-22.
Fiery hell is a considerable more severe sanction than any earthly death.
The Holy Spirit, God, through the power and justice of the Holy Spirit, executed both Ananias and his wife, Saphira. Their crime? Lying to the Holy Spirit – to God – through Peter. Acts 5:1-11.
No trial, no appeals, just death on the spot.
God: “You shall not accept indemnity in place of the life of a murderer who deserves the death penalty; he must be put to death.” Numbers 35:31 (NAB) full context Web Link
For murder, there is no mitigation from a death sentence.
God: Genesis 9:5-6, from the 1764 Quaker Bible, the only Quaker bible.
5 And I will certainly require the Blood of your Lives, and that from the Paw of any Beast: from the Hand likewise of Man, even of any one’s Brother, will I require the Life of a Man.
6 He that sheds Man’s Blood, shall have his own shed by Man; because in the Likeness of God he made Mankind.
Of all the versions/translations, this may be the most unequivocal - Murder requires execution of the murderer. It is a command. The Noahic covenant if for all persons and all times.
"All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987.
Saint (& Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).
Pope Pius XII: "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.
"Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Christian and secular Scholars"
1) Saint (& Pope) Pius V: "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).
2) Pope Pius XII; "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.
3) John Murray: "Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life."
"... it is this same atrophy of moral fiber that appears in the plea for the abolition of the death penalty."
"It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merit." (Page 122 of Principles of Conduct).
4) Immanuel Kant: "If an offender has committed murder, he must die. In this case, no possible substitute can satisfy justice. For there is no parallel between death and even the most miserable life, so that there is no equality of crime and retribution unless the perpetrator is judicially put to death.".
"A society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else's life is simply immoral."
5) Billy Graham: "God will not tolerate sin. He condemns it and demands payment for it. God could not remain a righteous God and compromise with sin. His holiness and His justice demand the death penalty." ( "The Power of the Cross," published in the Apr. 2007 issue of Decision magazine ).
6) Theodore Roosevelt: "It was really heartrending to have to see the kinfolk and friends of murderers who were condemned to death, and among the very rare occasions when anything governmental or official caused me to lose sleep were times when I had to listen to some poor mother making a plea for a criminal so wicked, so utterly brutal and depraved, that it would have been a crime on my part to remit his punishment.".
7) Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "Again, every rogue who criminously attacks social rights becomes, by his wrong, a rebel and a traitor to his fatherland. By contravening its laws, he ceases to be one of its citizens: he even wages war against it. In such circumstances, the State and he cannot both be saved: one or the other must perish. In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen as an enemy. The trial and judgments are proofs that he has broken the Social Contract, and so is no longer a member of the State." (The Social Contract).
8) John Locke: "A criminal who, having renounced reason... hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or tyger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security." And upon this is grounded the great law of Nature, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Second Treatise of Civil Government.
1) US Death Penalty Support at 80%; World Support Remains High
Posted by Dudley Sharp, a resident of another community, on Oct 3, 2012 at 4:55 am
Less Justice is Not What We Need - Vote No on Prop. 34
If Prop 34 passes:
-- Murderers on death row will cheer and
-- The loved ones of those innocents murdered will cry
You will vote, accordingly.
1) Cost Studies: Fact Checking Anyone?
There are two problems.
A) No one seems to have fact checked the Paula/Alarcon cost reports.
Paula/Alarcon seem to have, primarily, depended upon the CCFAJ cost review, which has huge problems and appears, completely, undependable.
Death opponents are saying that it will only cost $15,700/yr/inmate when we transfer them from death row to their life cells.
Nonsense. The average cell cost for all inmates was $49,000/inmate/yr in 2008-2009 (1)
For higher security inmates the costs range from $71,000-$172,000/inmate/yr. (1), not $15,700.
There is zero credible evidence that ending the death penalty will save $130 million per year or that such ending will make available an additional $100 million to help investigations of murder or rape cases.
B) Paula/Alarcon both appear dedicated to ending the death penalty, making zero recommendations to fix the Ca problems, even though the solutions are quite clear and easy to implement, when the will exists to do so.
For example, Virginia executes within 7.1 years of sentencing, on average, and has executed 75% of those so sentenced, a protocol that Ca could implement and which would all but guarantee that costs would be less than LWOP.
All Judge Alarcon has done is to restate how irresponsible the system, inclusive of judges, has been, while offering no solutions. Same ole, same ole - standard death penalty opponent.
With a responsible death penalty system, as Virginia's, with all parties, working together, there is no debate in Ca.
But, when the defense bar, the judiciary, etc. are colluding together and in plain view, to thwart the law and the will of the people, that is what has created the problem.
2) Innocents Better Protected with Death Penalty
Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 10:07 am
@ Paly Student:
It almost sounds as if your opinion (and, yes, it is an opinion) about "free will" leads you to believe that some people are born to murder, rape and commit other heinous acts of violence. Since they are "born this way," you feel that they should not be held fully accountable for capital crimes.
Those two evil men who raped a mother and two daughters and then set them on fire in Connecticut were not zombies or clones devoid of an ability to make decisions. They CHOSE to rape and kill. A society of their peers chose to levy the ultimate punishment for such an ultimate crime.
Your idea of "no such thing as free will" in terms of behavior cannot explain how some evil men can also do good while some good men commit evil.
Adolf Hitler was probably the most evil man to ever plague this planet. He killed millions of Jews, Gypsies and other "undesirables." Yet, he treated his dogs well. In fact, he treated his dogs better than he treated many human beings. In biographies of his life, we learn that he appeared to be an average child with a love of nature, art and music.
So, what caused an average kid to become a monster? While his genetic pre-frontal function may have made him susceptible to coercion and persuasion (particular the early 20th century propaganda regarding racial and ethnic eugenics), this still points to outside influence nurturing his decisions, behavior and ideals. However, make no mistake: Hitler was not a "victim." He was a monster because of what he did. He gave into monstrous tendencies because of what he wanted to (or decided to) believe and propagate.
Few people would argue against "capital punishment" of someone like Hitler. In fact, most people -- in hindsight -- wish that it could have been inflicted prior to World War 2.
It is easy to argue that capital punishment should not be used on cases where the guilt of the individual is called into question. I agree. If there is ANY doubt that a convict may NOT have committed a crime, I wouldn't recommend such a punishment. I would argue against it.
However, most of the crimes for individuals on death row were convicted by evidence that left no reasonable doubt of innocence. In most cases, the convicted parties ADMITTED to their crimes. Most of those crimes were brutal and heinous in detail.
Correct me if I am wrong: Do you think that Hitler deserved to live if he had not killed himself and had been convicted? What about other serial killers? What about the two men in Connecticut who raped two young girls and a mother and then set them on fire?
Do you see the difference in degree of crime? Some crimes are so heinous...so violent...so repulsive...that they deserve a just punishment.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 11:28 am
@ greenie bo beenie:
First of all, you should not group or compare the United States -- which implements capital PUNISHMENT of convicts guilty of heinous rapes and murders -- with nations that execute individuals for political, religious and social reasons.
There is a difference between executing a man who tied up and brutally raped two young girls and their mother and then murdered them by setting them on fire...and the a country that kills individuals for free speech, religious ideas or political views.
Also, no one is "using God" to justify "murder." They are simply pointing out that capital punishment by a secular government of individuals guilty of evil crimes (like murder and rape) is not at conflict with the teachings of Christianity as some have implied.
Posted by Disgusted, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm
Use God to justify state sanctioned murder? STATE SANCTIONED MURDER? I love it when people say "State Sanctioned Murder". What a joke. How about the perpetrator caused the death penalty to be assigned when HE/SHE TOOK THE LIFE OF ANOTHER. Obviously you've never been close to a person who has been murdered and seen the effect it has not only on the victim, but the family and friends. One selfish narcissistic jerk can ruin the lives of many, by taking a life.
Posted by Oppose death penalty, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm
I oppose the death penalty. It is murder. Judges and juries are made up of people who sometimes make mistakes. Until we can undo human fallibility, a punishment with the irrevocability of the death penalty has no place in our laws.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm
You are trying to connect this nation that PUNISHES MURDERERS and RAPISTS with other nations that execute individuals for their beliefs, views and ideas.
As for the Christian teaching on capital punishment, how can you say that it is "bullpucky?" You cannot base it upon certain individuals within one or more denominations or sects. There are many Christians and Christian churches that do not believe that the punishment of murderers is in conflict with the teachings of the Bible.
In addition, the vast majority of Americans believe in the death penalty for murderers and rapists. The majority of Americans state that they are Christians. Thus, the adherents of the Christian faith in America do not feel that the death penalty is in conflict with their faith.
It is NOT "blood lust" or "immoral" to disperse proper justice on the most vile of murderers and rapists.
Let me ask you: Did Adolf Hitler deserve to live after his crimes against humanity?
It is easy to claim that you want people to "live" when their guilt is in doubt. No one should execute a person for ideas, values, etc... No one should execute an individual whose guilt is in question.
What about the rest?
What about the Hitlers and Stalins of this world? What about confessed killers? What about the serial killers? What about child rapists who brutally rape and murder children?
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm
@ "Morality & Family Values:"
I tell you what: Since you (probably under a different username) raised the issue in the first place, why don't YOU list all of the denominations and sects that take a stand against executing murderers and rapists. "Go ahead."
The rest are silent on the issue and allow individuals in the congregations to make up their own minds. You'll find that the denominations and sects representing a majority of adherents of the Christian faith don't try to indoctrinate those in the congregation on the matter.
And, like I said, the Bible makes some interesting implications in regard to the concept of justice. I mentioned those previously.
We aren't speaking about murdering political, religious, social or free speech dissidents. We aren't speaking about executing individuals who may not be guilty.
The eight Palo Alto City Council members took the time to "take a stand" that simply doesn't represent many residents of this city. They took a universal stand with the notion that capital punishment is "morally and financially crippling." They cited no sources for their position.
Is capital punishment never justified?
Should Adolf Hitler and other Nazis who oversaw/guided the tortures, slavery and murders of millions of innocent men, women and children have been executed for their crimes against humanity? Or, would you have supported "life in prison" for those monsters?
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm
@ "Morality & Family Values:"
My burden of proof? You're the one who claims that capital punishment goes against the Christian faith.
What are your sources?
The CATHOLIC CHURCH does not take an "official" binding, doctrinal position on the issue. Pope John Paul II embraced the idea of "lawful slaying" in certain cases and his successor agreed that it is justifiable in certain cases (see Evangelium Vitae).
The MORMONS take no doctrinal stand on the issue. However, they embrace a doctrine called "blood atonement" that reflects the "life for a life" notion of justice.
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS agree with capital punishment in principle that is applied "accurately and without prejudice."
AMISH and MENNONITES do not agree with capital punishment.
ANGLICANS/EPISCOPALIANS - There is no universal doctrinal position on the issue. However, there have been votes by bishops that vary in opinion and thought.
LUTHERANS - Most take no doctrinal position. The smaller "Evangelical Lutherans" denomination that you cited admit that there are varying positions on the subject by their adherents and they encourage this. As a position, the church leaders feel "Since human beings are fallible, the innocent have been executed in the past and will inevitably be executed in the future. Death is a different punishment from any other; the execution of an innocent person is a mistake we cannot correct. It is because of this church's concern regarding the actual use of the death penalty that we oppose its imposition." This speaks of capital punishment where there are questions of guilt. If the person is undeniably guilty, they do not speak of it.
METHODISTS - Of the various Methodist denominations and sects, only the United Methodist denomination opposes it because "all possibility of change in that person's [the convict's] life ends."
CHURCH OF CHRIST - Most of the various "Church of Christ" denominations -- including the three largest denominations under this name -- hold no position on the matter. The "United Church of Christ" denomination has held a non-doctrinal view against capital punishment since 1969.
JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES - The denomination takes no stand on the matter either way. However, they embrace the law as it stands as the "authorities carrying out their God-given responsibilities." Their doctrine indicates that God will carry out "capital punishment" on evildoers "during Armageddon."
As for the other Christian churches...
Most, like the Assemblies of God, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Pentecostal, United Pentecostals, Apostolic, Northern Baptists, Disciples of Christ and others hold NO DOCTRINAL POSITION or NO PROHIBITION to capital punishment.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm
@ "Morality & Family Values:"
There is no "bloodthirst" in dispensing justice against murderers...any more than it would be "bloodthirst" to use deadly force in an effort to defend your child from a rapist or murderer.
My point is not to say that those churches are right or wrong. Rather, it is to counter the notion that Christianity teaches against it.
In addition to this, I already pointed to the Biblical anecdotes regarding the practice.
The bottom line for me, however, is that it is NOT the responsibility of the Palo Alto City Council to even take a stand...and that their stand does not reflect the views of the residents of Palo Alto.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
As for the Bible: I did not try to say that THOSE churches (in my rebuttal to the list that you gathered from an anti-capital punishment website) were right or wrong. And, of course, there is a difference between the Old Testament and New Testament positions on such issues.
Remember: Christianity is based upon the teachings of the New Testament. Therefore, I provided some NEW TESTAMENT anecdotes that seem to support the notion of capital punishment (or suggest that it is not in conflict with Christianity).
You had no "evidence staring" me in "the face." You simply copied and pasted a list -- with errors -- from an anti-capital punishment website. Moreover, I simply pointed out that your list does not reflect Christianity in this country as a whole.
Have a great day...and I hope that you realize that the subject is not "too easy." Therefore, the city council should NOT have spoken for the rest of us.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm
@ Paly Student:
How so? It is difficult to see how I specifically "missed your point" if you don't explain which point was missed. I spelled out clearly what I think about "free will" and how I disagree with it. That is not "missing" your point at all.
Posted by Dudley Sharp, a resident of another community, on Oct 4, 2012 at 10:24 am
Civilized & Industrialized Countries: Death Penalty Support
The idea that some subjective definition of civilized countries or an objective description of industrialized countries matters in regard to the death penalty is nonsense.
There are a lot of nasty countries that don’t have the death penalty, such as:
countries on 1 of 3 Amnesty Intl death penalty abolitionist countries lists: Yugoslavia, Algeria , Burma, Mexico, Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Uzbekistan, Croatia, Togo, Tunisia, Senegal, Nicaragua,
Some poorly industrialized and poorly civilized:
Some of the countries from the AI death penalty retentionist list: Bahamas, Barbados, United States, Belize, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Singapore, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines;
Some highly industrialized and very civilized.
Of much greater importance is that most people are good people and that it seems the majority of people in all countries support the death penalty for some crimes (1). Why? Justice.
Folks find the death penalty just and appropriate for some crimes, the same moral foundation of support for all criminal sanctions.
Let’s say I am right, that innocents are more protected with the death penalty (2). What is so civilized about countries that knowingly spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocents?
In complete disregard for the truth, some say that jurisdictions with the death penalty have higher crime rates than those without it. Such claims are absolute nonsense (3)
countries with no death penalty law: 96
countries with the death penalty: 101
source: Amnesty Intl. AI plays with the numbers, but when you weed through their nonsense, this is the reality.
Posted by Dudley Sharp, a resident of another community, on Oct 4, 2012 at 10:41 am
Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey.
He agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer:
“. . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy.” (p. 116).
” . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none. It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect.” (p. 111-113) Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992.
Some may say, well, that isn't the officla Quaker position. True. But can the officla Quaker position rebut Prof. Carey's writings? No.
In fact, an historical review of Quaker teachings finds support for executions.
Posted by Wasting$$, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2012 at 11:54 am
It IS too costly to keep prisoners in jail, ludicrous really.
But what are the other creative ideas?
Have police officers WITH the prisoners DOING WORK Projects!! Perhaps too costly also, I'm not sure.
Try tidying areas, planting trees and watering them, use them for projects, digging for new pavements.... Put some of them on the road paving, shoveling stuff... Have them build items that can be used--free, due to 1-2 managing folks a lot of prisoners that can build, dig, design, etc.
Posted by Jan H., a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm Jan H. is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Hundreds of people have been executed and later found to be innocent through DNA evidence. How do you correct that mistake?
On the other hand, sociopaths are born, not made. They have innate differences in their brains that cause them to have no conscience. How can they be rehabilitated? What good does life imprisonment do in their case?
This is something that is simply bigger than all of us, and possibly not solvable.