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Opt-out Capital Punishment

Allows death penalty opponents to stop executions in their name
  (+6, -3)
(+6, -3)
  [vote for,

Those opposed to the death penalty should be allowed to prevent executions in their name. If someone has previously stated their opposition to the death penalty, then the state should not order capital punishment imposed if they are murdered. Underneath the "I wish to be an anatomical donor" line on driver's licenses can be the line "If I am killed, I do not wish the death penalty imposed." If a person is for the death penalty, then the line "If I am killed, the state may impose the maximum possible penalty allowed" can be added.

Under such a system, death penalty opponents would be able to reduce the number of people on death row, while those who are for the death penalty would have their wishes respected as well. Victims should have a say in their killer's punishment, and this would be one way of granting it.

mrouse, Nov 16 2002

murder statistics http://www.murdervi...rder_statistics.htm
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, homicide rates recently declined to levels last seen before 1970 [drfowler, Oct 04 2004]

capital punishment statistics http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cp.htm
I did not add these links to support nor oppose capital punishment. These are just some facts that I found interesting and you might also. [drfowler, Oct 04 2004]


       I hope I don't have to show my driver's license to Hannibal Lechter so he can decide.
Amos Kito, Nov 16 2002

       "Look here, Hannibal! 'In the event of my death, I want my murderer fried by Ol' Sparky'!" This could be an option if the state had more than one method of execution. :)
mrouse, Nov 16 2002

       Good idea. I would do this. Kinda subverts the legislative branch of government, though. Taken to it's extreme, everyone would be doling out his own justice on all wrongdoers ("in the event of someone cutting me off in traffic, I want the bastard hunted down and scalped").
snarfyguy, Nov 16 2002

       Hmmm, very interesting. What happens in the case of a multiple homicide where a single murderer kills two or more victims and only one of the victims has a "no death penalty" request?   

       [snarfyguy] It seems that it could only work as a request for reduction of penalty rather than an increase in the severity. Also, it seems it would only be valid in the cases where the crime resulted in the death of the victim, no?
bristolz, Nov 16 2002

       Now that I've thought about this more, I realize that the *only* reason I like this idea is that I agree with you about the death penalty. I must rescind my croissant, as the same idea could be used for the opposite end.
snarfyguy, Nov 16 2002

       Given that judges often (usually? sometimes?) weigh the words of the victim's family before passing the death penalty, you can just make sure they know your wishes.   

       [While largely opposed to the death penalty, I have seen descriptions of a few crimes which, if we are to have a death penalty at all, would seem to have been despicable enough merit it. However, in none of these crimes was the death penalty applied to the malefactor.]
DrCurry, Nov 16 2002

       Well, most people just don't consider trolling to be THAT egregious, [DrCurry].
bristolz, Nov 16 2002

       bristolz is right, it would only work as a request for a reduction in the possible penalty, and it would only be taken into account when the victim could not speak for himself (as in murder). This is one way of giving the victim a voice in the sentencing.   

       If there were more than one person murdered, and the victims' views on the death penalty differed, it would be handled in the punishment phase. To use an example, if all but one of a murderer's victims were against the death penalty, and he was not convicted of capital murder in that particular case, there would be no execution. If he *was* convicted of capital murder in the remaining case, he would be subject to the death penalty.
mrouse, Nov 16 2002

       I don't understand how saying "execute my murderer" and "don't execute my murderer" are substantially different (other than that they're complete opposites). What I'm saying is: you're imagining a system whereby a victim, rather than a legislative or judicial body, determines the punishment for a crime. Such a system seems ripe for extreme abuses.   

       Suppose I turned the idea on its head and posted "Opt - in Capital Punishment." In it's essence, it's the same idea with the opposite agenda.
snarfyguy, Nov 17 2002

       It's not the person throwing the switch, it's society! Society gets dirty real easy, waugsqueke! Got to keep it spick and span!
Admiral Hackbar, Nov 17 2002

       In the case of bris's 1st anno...majority rules!   

       I was kind of hoping this was something along the lines of...if you opposed the death penalty - "kill me instead of him!" kind of thing. You know how those people that stand outside of death chambers begging for mercy on the accussed...them dying in place of the murderer. Hey, People can still be martyrs for a good cause.   

       But, what if you change your mind while dying? What if it was a murderer who was a sadist or practiced ancient chinese torture. "excuse me sir, could you please remove these razor blades from beneath my finger nails so that I can change the death penalty option on my license?"   

       Or what about a murderer that takes hostages, and releases only the victims who have chosen the death penalty as their preference? They get points for releasing hostages plus they get to live if someone "accidently" dies.
drfowler, Nov 17 2002

       This would only allow victims to "opt out" of capital punishment (in states that already have the death penalty), not "opt in" if the state does not have capital punishment. That is why the note on the driver's license would read "If I am killed, the state may impose the maximum possible penalty allowed." The maximum possible penalty may be life in prison, depending on the state. I am not certain how "extreme abuses" would occur, since the victim cannot change his or her view on capital punishment after they are deceased.   

       As for it not making any sense that the victim has a say in reducing the punishment meted out -- well, it makes at least as much sense as criminal A and criminal B committing identical crimes, but one state executes criminal A while another holds criminal B in prison for the rest of his life.
mrouse, Nov 17 2002

       The scene: a dark alley where Criminal A is mugging mrouse.   

       Mrouse has decided he's going to defend himself. Criminal A isn't having it and in a fit of Methamphetamine - fueled rage has made a pretty bad mess of mrouse.   

       Criminal A relieves the inert mrouse of his wallet. He puts the cash in his pocket, then notices mrouse's drivers license. Flipping it over, he notes that underneath the "I wish to be an anatomical donor" line is the following: "If I am killed, I do not wish the death penalty imposed."   

       Criminal A removes his gun from inside his jacket. No point leaving a witness who can identify him...
snarfyguy, Nov 17 2002

       (sorry to be so lurid; I don't know what came over me.)
snarfyguy, Nov 17 2002

       One of the arguments against the death penalty is that it does not deter murderers. If that is true, then people would not have to worry about being targetted simply because the penalty for killing them was less. If a person is sure enough to vote against capital punishment, he or she should have no doubt when it comes to their personal safety. If there are circumstances where the death penalty may deter someone, or there is some crime so heinous that the perpetrator should be executed, then your decision on capital punishment (and your license) should reflect that.
mrouse, Nov 17 2002

       annotator B says, "wow, that was lurid."
bristolz, Nov 17 2002

       //One of the arguments against the death penalty is that it does not deter murderers. //   

       I don't know about that. I mean just the thought of it pretty much keeps me in check. Not that I am a murderer. But, I can understand that view point involving "crimes of passion" cases (where the murderer just reacts to emotions). Pre-meditation however, is a completely different story. These people have time to think about what they are doing. The ones that are foolish enough to think they can cover it up go through with it...the others resort to therapy (which I must add is a million dollar "industry"). So let's look at statistics, there are more crimes of passion then pre-meditated, and there are more people in therapy than on death row. I think capital punishment has made it's point.
drfowler, Nov 17 2002

       <Food for thought>
An inmate helped build an execution chamber
That inmate was later released from prison
That former inmate committed murder while out of prison
That inmate returned to the same prison
That inmate was executed in the same execution chamber he helped build
</Food for thought>
thumbwax, Nov 17 2002

       I didn't like how my previous annotation sounded, so I'll try again. My belief is that those who truly oppose capital punishment should have their views respected when it is their own life that has been taken. Without such opposition in writing *before* the victim's death, the state should punish the criminal consistant with the law, up to and including the death penalty (if applicable). As an added bonus, politicians who denounce the death penalty without prohibiting the possibility of the state using it if they are murdered can then be exposed as the posers they are (hopefully before they are dead, of course).
mrouse, Nov 18 2002

       Makes sense in the sense of Madison in Federalist 45, that federal powers are to be 'few and defined.'
General Washington, Nov 18 2002

       Opt-out capital punishment for social justice:   

       Capital punishment's proponents tend to be those that are unlikely to ever face a death penalty themselves. That is to say, they belong to socio-economic groups that are not often pushed to crime.   

       I suggest that people be offered to opportunity to opt out. If you opt out, you cannot be sentenced to death (other incarceration penalties would apply). There'd be a there's a 5-10 year cooling off period to prevent people opting out for the purpose of murder and equally, nobody else would be sentenced to death for the murder of someone who opted out (details kept confidentially).   

       I think we'd very quickly see voters and legislators change their minds when they see the death penalty in terms of their own personal mortality rather than that of 'bad people'.
FloridaManatee, Apr 29 2003

       [drfowler]""). So let's look at statistics, there are more crimes of passion then pre-meditated, and there are more people in therapy than on death row. I think capital punishment has made it's point."   

       The statistics are simliar in countries where there is no death penalty. I think it has more to do with personal morality than perceived punishments.
ChewTheBeef, Apr 29 2003

       I think they call that opt out process voting.
STiMULi, Mar 21 2006


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