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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Does Literary Work Redeem Sin? OSC this ones for U (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Does Literary Work Redeem Sin? OSC this ones for U
The_Orange_ Order
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HOpefully you all know the plight of Stan Tookie Williams the death row inmate who started the street gang known as the "Crips" While on death row Mr Williams has wrote volumes of childrens books to try and provey the message of anti violence and anti gangs. He has been nominated for both a nobel peace prize and the nobel prize for literature. Mr Williams may be a prime example of reform and desearves clemency or should he still pay for his crime?
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BaoQingTian
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I am not OSC in disguise, but here's my $.02

Although it may seem a little cheesy given the recent popularity of LOTR, Tolkein summed up my feelings on the death penalty:

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

To answer your question, I don't believe writing children's literature redeems anyone, however you meant the word. But it seems as though this man has done some good in the world. If he were promptly executed, none of this would have happened. If he is executed now, what else may he and the rest of us miss out on? I'm not really trying to make a point here, just food for thought.

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ReikoDemosthenes
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I personally strongly disagree with the death penelty, but I think that in order for the courts to be honest and just, he must serve some sentence. Perhaps they should put it to review as to whether he should receive death or not, but he should not be let off without any punishment.
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Jacare Sorridente
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Poor grammar and spelling should be punishable by death.
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tern
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Did you know, by the way, that Tookie's bestseller sold 330 copies? The man has seriously changed lives, folks. And being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize...that's a truly difficult thing to do, as it takes the extreme step of having a university professor put in a nomination. Truly a great man.
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GaalDornick
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Jacare i agre wth u defnetly
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LadyDove
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I don't have an opinion on Tookie, since I haven't studied him or his work. I hate the death penalty, yet if I could switch Manson for Tookie, I'd do it based on the fact that Manson continues to influence people in a negative vein, while this Tookie appears to be making a positive impact, however small.

::looks at tern::
That sarcasm dripping from your pen is so unbecoming.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

I personally strongly disagree with the death penelty, but I think that in order for the courts to be honest and just, he must serve some sentence. Perhaps they should put it to review as to whether he should receive death or not, but he should not be let off without any punishment.

He's already served several decades (having spent, in fact, most of his life in prison), and I believe the governor is only able to offer clemency, not a full pardon -- which means he'd still be stuck with life in prison. Of course, given that he killed a number of people in cold blood while they begged for mercy, YMMV.

Which raises an interesting question. No one challenges the fact that Williams clearly reformed while in prison, and has done a fair bit of good once behind bars. But as a death row inmate who's managed to stave off death for far longer than would have normally been possible -- as someone who's certainly outlived his victims' desire for revenge -- should he even have been given the chance to reform? If not, why not? And if he has been given the chance to reform, and if he has in fact reformed, why is his death still necessary? But in that same vein, then, why would most death row inmates also not deserve the same opportunity?

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docmagik
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Not to be contrary, but lots of people are challenging the fact that Williams reformed while in prison. Including guards who've worked death row.

That does not change the premise of the question at all, but trust me. Here in California, it's hard to turn around without hearing somebody's take--whether in the media or on the street--on how sincere his recent actions are.

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King of Men
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What is it with all the people claiming he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? In the first place, this is not difficult to achieve. I mean, it's not as though I always agree with the Committee, but at least they pick just one person per year; but nominations? Hundreds of the damn things!

Second, it is completely uncheckable! The Nobel Committee does not publish its work, and anyone can therefore claim to have been nominated for a Peace Prize!

Incidentally, I was apparently nominated for this year, 'for his sterling work in eradicating the scourge of religion from teh Intarwebs.' :nods:

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tern
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Congratulations on your nomination, KoM. I was thinking about finding a sympathetic professor to nominate me (that way, I can put it on my resume) but it seems that some other dude is already starting a campaign. Of course, Tookie is in good company, Hitler and Stalin and Arafat (who even won), but I don't think he's killed enough people.

LadyDove, I'm afraid that sarcasm is my only well-honed rhetorical technique. I'm working on others, but a shoemaker should stick to his last. I feel that sarcasm is a better way to express the rage that I feel when I see people try to argue that an unrepentant killer should be given clemency because "he wrote childrens books".

Take a look at this link, it is the L.A. County D.A.'s response to Tookie's claim for clemency. I think that their point about how those calling for clemency ignore the victims is good, and it's interesting to see just how unreformed this guy really is.
PDF Link

quote:
When one person kills another, there is
immediate revulsion at the nature of the
crime. But in a time so short as to seem
indecent to the members of the personal
family, the dead person ceases to exist as an
identifiable figure. To those individuals in
the community of good will and empathy,
warmth and compassion, only one of the key
actors in the drama remains with whom to
commiserate—and that is always the
criminal. The dead person ceases to be a
part of everyday reality, ceases to exist. She
is only a figure in a historic event. We
inevitably turn away from the past, toward
the ongoing reality. And the ongoing reality
is the criminal; trapped, anxious, now
helpless, isolated, often badgered and
bewildered. He usurps the compassion that
is justly his victim’s due. He will steal his
victim’s moral constituency along with her
life.


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tern
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Now, if Tookie had offered to provide information on the Crips, I might think that he really did reform. He, however, is proudly holding solidarity to his "brothers".
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Lyrhawn
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Commute his sentence to life in prison.

His previous actions have caused too much damage to be totally absolved by writing anything, I don't care if he authored a new Magna Carta.

But he obviously wants to make a difference now, or at the very least he doesn't want to die. Allow him to live out the rest of his life performing restitution for his evils.

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tern
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I'm not asking this to be sarcastic - but what do prisoners serving a life sentence do to perform restitution for their evils? I don't think that making license plates counts. What could we have them do that would actually make sense to allow them to make restitution? If I thought that there were reasonable alternatives, I might be more sympathetic to commutation.
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Lyrhawn
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Well, if he sits in prison writing children's books that even one child might read, and as a result of which turns away from crime and stays in school, then I think he's doing a world of good.

Just an example. Not everyone is capable of acting towards redemption. This guy seems to be making a serious attempt.

Nor do I think this restitution is absolving him of his crime, but I'd say it's enough to not kill him.

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airmanfour
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i don't like paying for killers' food. especially ones that have killed people in cold blood and also have a large food-eating capacity.
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tern
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Take a look at the link I referred to earlier. He is in no way trying to make an attempt at rehabiliation. He could save far more lives by opening up on how the Crips work than by writing childrens books.

On the other hand, I wouldn't consider food expense when determining whether or not the death penalty is viable.

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Lyrhawn
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Well if you want to look at it that way airmanfour, we should be executing tons more people than we are now.

I don't want to pay for the food of rapists, child molestors, drug users, so on and so forth either, but its the price we pay to be a humanitarian free society.

tern -

Yeah, you make a good point, he isn't TRYING to redeem himself, but who cares what his intentions are? We aren't letting him out into the streets. Make him do whatever he can do best to help someone outside the walls of his prison. I don't really care what his motives are, the man found the Crips, he obviously has issues, just so long as someone is benefitting from him living, let him keep on living. And I don't disagree with you, opening up on inside Crip infor would be much nicer.

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Jhai
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Incidently, the cost of killing someone (including all of the required appeals) is typically much higher than just sticking them in prison for life.
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Lyrhawn
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Jhai -

You're making the assumption that someone with a life sentence wouldn't make the same appeals trying to get their sentence lowered or lifted altogether.

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dantesparadigm
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I say let him fry (or be injected, as I think is the preferred method in California)

First of all, as to the claims of his redemption, he hasn’t expressed any remorse or even admitted guilt for his crimes; which include shooting a 7-11 clerk and bragging about the gurgling sounds he made as he lay dieing, and killing a little girl while she was sheltering under her mother. The only claim I can accept for why he doesn’t deserve to die is an opposition to the death penalty in general. Tookie is a cold-blooded killer and the minimal evidence of his reform does not come anywhere close to restitution for his crimes.

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tern
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I would say that if one believes in the death penalty (which I do) then Tookie is a prime candidate. I think that the core of this issue is really about whether the death penalty should be applied at all. Tookie is just the poster killer of the month.
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LadyDove
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tern,
I'm not denying your point, I'm just pointing out that I've found you to be a bright and insightful guy and the cheap use of sarcasm takes attention away from your true qualities.

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TomDavidson
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I think this case makes the excellent point that if you're going to have a death penalty, it should really be applied within two or three days of the sentence.
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Tante Shvester
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Oh Tom, there you go again.
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Rakeesh
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That doesn't follow at all, Tom.

Unless you're talking about reworking the guilt and sentencing phases of death-penalty cases.

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TomDavidson
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Um...?
Where did I go?

Seriously, if you're going to make the decision that someone either a) is so dangerous that he can't be permitted to live or b) has done something so heinous that no reform or restitution is possible, and therefore must die, it would seem logical to kill that person as soon as possible so a) he doesn't pose any escape risk and b) doesn't actually wind up reforming or making any restitution in the time between the sentencing and the execution, and thus making people feel bad about themselves. This would have the added benefit, if you're killing the person in order to provide closure through revenge to the community, of actually providing closure to the community in a relevant and timely manner.

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Rakeesh
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He hasn't reformed, he hasn't redeemed himself, guys, are you nuts?

I am at once shocked and depressingly unsurprised at how gullible some people are. Oh, he writes children's books. He's on Death Row! Why, oh why, does this guy staring at a dripping needle start doing something so cloyingly compassionate and public? Not to mention out of character? And without doing much else at all?

Could it be a plea for sympathy, an attempt to persaude that dripping needle not to stick into his veins?

Think of the children!

If you're against the death penalty, that's all well and good. Agitate to get his sentence changed to life instead of execution. But this talk of reform? Ugh! I swear, I should switch to a life of crime. I can write low-selling kid's books too.

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Rakeesh
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Tom,

I'm talking about how if you're going to have a death penalty, you should be beyond our normal degrees of certainty that the criminal is actually guilty and that we know as much as we possibly can about his trial and his state of mind and background.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

I'm talking about how if you're going to have a death penalty, you should be beyond our normal degrees of certainty that the criminal is actually guilty and that we know as much as we possibly can about his trial and his state of mind and background.

Which occurs, of course, before sentencing. Once we've decided that someone deserves death, why not just kill them before they leave the courtroom? Why have an interminable appeals process just to "make sure" that this person really deserves to die, especially if that person's going to make the effort to become a better person while in prison? If they manage to become a better person while waiting for their appeal, how should that influence the earlier decision that they didn't deserve -- or weren't capable of -- that change?
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Jacare Sorridente:
Poor grammar and spelling should be punishable by death.

No. Only the use of "irregardless" deserves the death penalty.
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Yozhik
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I think the writing of crappy children's books should MERIT the death penalty. (Yes, Madonna, Katie Couric, and Jay Leno, I'm talking about you.)
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Why have an interminable appeals process just to "make sure" that this person really deserves to die, especially if that person's going to make the effort to become a better person while in prison?
Personally, I think little of efforts to become a better person with a needle poking you in the arm, or a noose tightening around one's neck, etc. The appeals process is there because most human life is precious, and we should make every effort to make sure the life to be extinguished is not one of those.

Not that writing children's books while not actually repenting for crimes committed nor helping authorities to end them actually counts as trying to become a better person. I'm told Hitler was kind to animals. (Yay! Godwin!)

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by starLisa:
quote:
Originally posted by Jacare Sorridente:
Poor grammar and spelling should be punishable by death.

No. Only the use of "irregardless" deserves the death penalty.
Irregardless of whether or not it's in quotes?
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Lyrhawn
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Well you didn't actually call Tookie a Nazi, I don't think it's a violation of Godwin's law. Certainly nearing the line, but not crossing it.

As for whether or not he is trying to reform, I really don't care if he is not. I don't believe in killing someone for what their thoughts are. So if inside he is still a brutal killer, so be it.

I'm not necessarily opposed to the death penalty in principle, it depends on the situation. More often than not, I think it should be commuted to life in prison if the prisoner can be made to perform some sort of helpful service to socierty. It doesn't matter to me if they perform it willingly, as a part of rehabilitation or not, I don't care, so long as they do it, and it helps someone. All the better if they perform it unwillingly and are made to suffer.

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Hank
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The thing with the death penalty is that the only possible positive function of it would be to deter other potential criminals, but in the US at least, the death penalty is so rare that it doesn't even really do that. So what's the point?
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Lyrhawn
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Even if it weren't that rare it still wouldn't work as a deterrent. If it worked it would have made a dent somewhere in the last, oh I don't know, four thousand years.
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Telperion the Silver
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What I find insulting is how his buddies said that if he is executed then they will begin new gang wars and try and kill prison guards. This kind of behavior is disgusting and treasonous. This is nothing short of trying to blackmail society so they can keep their petty kingdoms on the streets. Williams also killed a number of people while he was in prison. Maybe he has changed... but he did do these horrible things. He should not be allowed back in the gene pool.

And Tom, I agree that if they are going to execut someone best to do it sooner rather than later. 25 years on death row is riduculous.

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Lyrhawn
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Telp -

They're gang lords, what do you really expect out of them?

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Rakeesh
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Lyrhawn,

quote:
All the better if they perform it unwillingly and are made to suffer.
This is curious reasoning from someone who wants to show mercy to the man and spare his life. Stranger still since if asked, you would probably (I'm guessing, I could be wrong) say that your stance-opposition to the death penalty-was more humane than mine, support of it in very limited circumstances.

Isn't it a bit sadistic to wish someone constant long-term suffering with no hope of escape whatsoever, beyond tight confinement which is of course necessary? I don't wish him that-well, I do in my more vengeful moments, but I don't actually think that's what should happen.

Why is it more humane, more civilized, to wish someone a lifetime's suffering in confinement than to simply kill them?

And incidentally, your point about the "dent" throughout human history...well, really, that's not much of a point at all. We cannot possibly know or even guess if people would have committed more or less crimes without the death penalty during all that time. You're just assuming the death penalty has made no "dent" in the past-actual statistics on this sort of thing don't go back far at all.

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The_Orange_ Order
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I just want to point out that the main "point" of prisons is reform - if criminals see that even if they do try and reform that they stil get societies crap why would they even bother?

Secondly to try and compare Tookie to Hitler? Had hitler had a heart attack the day after his picture was taken for Times Man Of The Year Hitler would be a name that even today would be held up and revered. He united his country brought it out of a recession and got things movin again - At this point he was a pretty good guy but then he went off and created his hell on earth work/death camps.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
This is curious reasoning from someone who wants to show mercy to the man and spare his life. Stranger still since if asked, you would probably (I'm guessing, I could be wrong) say that your stance-opposition to the death penalty-was more humane than mine, support of it in very limited circumstances.

Isn't it a bit sadistic to wish someone constant long-term suffering with no hope of escape whatsoever, beyond tight confinement which is of course necessary? I don't wish him that-well, I do in my more vengeful moments, but I don't actually think that's what should happen.

Why is it more humane, more civilized, to wish someone a lifetime's suffering in confinement than to simply kill them?

And incidentally, your point about the "dent" throughout human history...well, really, that's not much of a point at all. We cannot possibly know or even guess if people would have committed more or less crimes without the death penalty during all that time. You're just assuming the death penalty has made no "dent" in the past-actual statistics on this sort of thing don't go back far at all.

It wasn't mercy for his sake. And I'm not sure if I consider my version more or less humane than yours. Let's compare: Write children's stories, or die. Unless maybe you're in a Dr. Seuss nightmare, I don't see how that could be considered any form of torture or inhumane treatment.

I'm not talking about slave labor? Besides, if they really don't want to do it, they always have your option, a quick and painless death, or long and somewhat painful if any states still use the chair. We still make prisoners pick up trash on the highway, some can choose to answer phones for telemarketers in return for rewards, do you call that inhumane torture? I think you're misunderstanding me.

If we were to give this man the option, you can either write children's stories and in some way try to make some sort of difference in the lives of inner city children and stop them from joining gangs, or you can die, do you really call that torture? Also, is that really a fate worse than death, as you seem to be claiming it to be.

If the man wants to live, but is still evil and really doesn't want to do this, then he'll suffer to a degree, but let's be honest, we aren't talking about torture here. Perhaps it's a little sadistic that I might like the fact that he is doing something he doesn't want to do to stay alive, but I don't think the families of his victims would disagree with me.

As for the death penalty as a deterrent. Most European countries (if not all?) don't have the death penalty, and their murder rates are lower than ours, and we do have it. Not exactly scientific data I know, but its certainly something to think about.

quote:
I just want to point out that the main "point" of prisons is reform - if criminals see that even if they do try and reform that they stil get societies crap why would they even bother?
Why bother wasting the money to reform someone who is spending a life term in prison? They will never get out, they will never become an active member of society. Reform is for those who will be reentering society and need to become productive members.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I just want to point out that the main "point" of prisons is reform
This is not universally agreed upon.
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Dagonee
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There are four "points" to prison:

1. Retribution
2. Rehabilitation (or reform if you will)
3. Incapcitation
4. Deterrence (specific to the prisoner and general to the community as a whole)

There is no purely reformative theory of punishment in use. Even those with the most rehabilitative bent contain the other three elements.

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Cali-Angel-Cat
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I've been hearing alot on this topic from my uncle who is a cop. His big complaint is that if there is no stay of execution, starting the day before the even, he'll be on 12 hour shifts.

I heard that the Bloods are offering to turn in their big arms if the Govenor will allow Tookie to live.

I am not a supported of the Death Penalty, never have been. Of course my uncle made the point that execution is one way to help the prision overpopulation problem.

Strife begets Strife
Death begets Death.

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Pelegius
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If prisons were about justice, then actions such as his would be considered. But they are not about justice, capital punishment is certianly not about justice, they are about vengence and pounds of flesh. We lock people away who need serious help, help we will not give them. And then we kill them. If someone said that the best solution for a bad kid was for him to be put with a bunch of other bad kids and not shown any examples of good behaviour, would you agree? I hope not.
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Rakeesh
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Orange Order,

quote:
Secondly to try and compare Tookie to Hitler?
I was contradicting the position I saw suggested (or about to be suggested) that Tookie is a good guy now, because he's doing this nice thing for kids. You need to look at more than just one tiny facet of a person to have any hope of understanding, even a little, what sort of person they are.

--------

Lyrhawn,

quote:
It wasn't mercy for his sake. And I'm not sure if I consider my version more or less humane than yours. Let's compare: Write children's stories, or die. Unless maybe you're in a Dr. Seuss nightmare, I don't see how that could be considered any form of torture or inhumane treatment.
If it wasn't mercy for his sake, then whose was it for? Yours? His victims or their families? Society in general? If it was for your sake, then that's a bit selfish. I suspect his victims and their families might not be united at all in wanting the mercy you offer. The same for society in general...and if you ask most people, they'd say, "Fry the bastard."

You're truncating your version. I was commenting on the part of your version that said it's better if he suffers for the rest of his life. I'm assuming you weren't talking blisters on his feet suffering either, but a real agonizing and hopeless existence of remorse without peace. Or just mild suffering?

If it's the first, then I submit killing him now is more humane, to spare him that level of suffering. If it's the latter...what's the point? Certainly mild suffering does not make anyone feel better, except perhaps you.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that I was in favor of torturing the guy. You were the one who brought up suffering, not me. But I understand what you meant a little better now. You meant the mild suffering involved in doing boring labor for the state (incidentally, how is that not slave labor? They have a choice to do nothing, or be slaves and do something).

quote:
Perhaps it's a little sadistic that I might like the fact that he is doing something he doesn't want to do to stay alive, but I don't think the families of his victims would disagree with me.
It's definitely sadistic, let's be clear about that. I'm not being insulting here, either, or personal-it's something everyone feels...but many people like to shy away from it and hide behind their humanity. Some people are a bit wiser and realize that it is such impulses towards sadism-that we want it-that makes that impulse dangerous and worthy of circumventing.

I think you're kidding yourself if you think the families of his victims are getting much pleasure from his crappy writing.

---------

Cali-Angel-Cat,

What possible bearing does this offer of turning in "big" arms from the Bloods have on anything? Does that mean they keep their uzis but turn in their AK-47s? Or just grenades?

Anyway...it certainly shouldn't have any bearing because such an offer is worthless. They wouldn't do it.

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Cali-Angel-Cat
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quote:
Cali-Angel-Cat,

What possible bearing does this offer of turning in "big" arms from the Bloods have on anything? Does that mean they keep their uzis but turn in their AK-47s? Or just grenades?

Anyway...it certainly shouldn't have any bearing because such an offer is worthless. They wouldn't do it.

I don't believe that it will have a bearing at all on the situation because they can always get more to replace what they give up.

To me it is just a last ditch attempt and nothing more.

They guy claims to have reformed, but how can we know that he is legit and not just saying it so he can get out of facing death.

This will be the fist time that I will have experienced the State's protocal for an execution. The cops are on 12/12 shifts with no vacations and no time off. Cerfews are imposed because of the chances of riots. We didn't have this back in Ohio.

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Lyrhawn
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It's not forced labor Rakeesh, it's an offer. People do things they have to do all the time in order to survive. I don't really feel especially sorry for someone who did things as heinous as he did being forced to do the same kinds of things that we all do day in and day out.

I think you're being a little melodramatic.

Actually, I'm understating. I think you're being very melodramatic.

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Rakeesh
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I think you'll find that when it comes to making convicted and unrepentant repeat murderers suffer, I'm quite a bit more draconian and sadistic than you are, Lyrhawn.

I feel no pity for Tookie at all. In fact, he should be grateful for his circumstances but it is a testimony to the quality of human being he is that he is not. Had he been born even fifty years ago, he would not have had long to complain.

You're the one who brought up questions of suffering and humanity, not me. It's a choice between drudgery labor without pay and doing nothing. The distinction between "forced" and not forced seems quite fine to the point of nonexistence to me. But I have no problem with someone like Tookie being forced to labor against his will.

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