My point is, it doesn't matter if the convicted understands their punishment.
Meh, nothing is a deterrent. Life imprison, jail time, getting arrested .... none of these things appear to deter crime. We don't stop doling out justice because it doesn't deter the next guy. It isn't really about that. It's about punishing people who deserve to be punished.
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I don't think it's meant to be a deterrent. Because as I think others have mentioned, I doubt Bundy or Scott Peterson or any other murderer is really thinking, oh boy I better not do this, I might get a lethal injection. In my mind, it's about paying their debt to the victim and so their families can get some peace and whatever closure is possible. I don't know if that's how I would feel if it were my loved one, but I can understand it to a degree. Travis Alexander's family wanted nothing less than death for Jodi Arias--of course it didn't turn out that way, but it seems that was their ultimate measure of justice. I think they felt she would enjoy her life in prison due to her fame and notoriety and they wanted her to suffer as their brother had.
Re Ted Bundy, for all his bravado, at the end, he definitely did all he could to spare his own life. I may not be pro-death penalty but I couldn't care less about any fear he may have felt when they strapped him into Ol' Sparky. There is no way in hell it could ever match the terror and pain he caused his victims and their families.
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On the other hand, I have a friend whose husband was murdered, and she has been an anti-death penalty activist even though that awful thing happened to her family. She's even testified to her state's house of reps to fight the death penalty. I don't think I'd be strong enough to stick to my convictions in that situation, which I guess is why family members and victims don't get to make sentencing decisions.
Death of the criminal does put a final end to it, but if we were actually able to keep murderers in jail forever, without the family having to show up and relive things every few years at parole hearings (or death penalty appeals for that matter), I think it would help some. Nothing can fix it when your loved one has been attacked - I am just of the opinion that the DP harms us all. It's one of those issues where I see a lot of merit in the other side, I just have a different view.
The thing about the death penalty is that there are no takebacks. And our justice system does make mistakes. Case in point, Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted in Texas of murdering his three children by setting the family home on fire. He was executed in 2004. In 2009, the Texas Forensic Science Commission found that "a finding of arson could not be sustained" and that the testimony of a fire marshal at the original trial was "hardly consistent with a scientific mind-set and is more characteristic of mystics or psychics".
I'd rather see the most depraved murderer imaginable living to a ripe old age in prison than one innocent person executed.
I can't bring myself to be in favour of the death penalty until we have a perfect justice system and as it is and always will be run by humans it will always be flawed. People are too often wrongly convicted because of biased evidence by 'experts'*, because they don't have the financial resources to get the best legal assistance or because a case is very public** or emotive and the powers that be think that SOMEONE has got to go down for it to appease the public and shore up their own position.
*Professor Roy Meadow. Several parents were sent to prison for murdering their babies based on the strength of his highly respected 'expert' testimony before their convictions were quashed. If we still had hanging in this country these people would have more than likely been executed before their convictions could be overturned. Meadow's evidence has since been widely discredited.
** The infamous (in the UK) Derek Bentley case where shots were fired at arresting officers and one was killed. He and Christopher Craig were attempting to burgle a warehouse when the police were called and arrived on the scene. Bentley was taken into custody almost immediately and was being restrained when Craig shot the arresting officer in the shoulder. Craig then went on to empty his gun upon other officers attempting to arrest him and killed one with a shot to the head, before falling and injuring himself while trying to continue his escape. Craig was eventually sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure and released after ten years. Bentley, who was illiterate and classed as "borderline feeble minded" in medical reports was executed, despite not having fired a shot and being in custody at the time. He was given a Royal Pardon in respect of his death sentence in 1993, forty years after his execution, and finally the conviction for murder was quashed in 1998.
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"You're going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well."
He tried to offer more bodies, hoping to buy 3 years at the end and the authorities shut him down. The Gov at the time said ' We are not going to have the system manipulated'.
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Bundy would probably still be alive but he killed in Florida.
I am going to come and burn the fucking house down... but you will blow me first."
He lost one of his last appeals, which was based on the jury instructions during the Kimberly Leach trial 5 to 4.
It's impossible to know for sure, but his confessions may have swayed that vote.
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