Death penalty, right to die, and those annoying civil liberties

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by bungrider, May 27, 2004.

  1. Anyone else find the irony here:


    Florida executes man who wanted death sentence

    TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) -- Florida executed a man Wednesday who strangled a fellow prisoner to get a death sentence rather than serve a life term for sexually assaulting a child.

    John Blackwelder, 49, was executed by chemical injection at the Florida State Prison near Starke for the 2000 murder of inmate Raymond Wigley.

    He was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. ET, said Jacob DiPietre, a spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush.

    Blackwelder had a history of criminal convictions and was sentenced to life without parole in 1998 for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy, a crime he said he did not commit.

    He said he wanted to die but could not bring himself to commit suicide and that he strangled Wigley in order to force the state to execute him.

    Blackwelder pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and told the judge at his sentencing hearing that if returned to prison he would kill "as many times as necessary" to be put to death.

    "I'm stuck in prison the rest of my life. There's no way of getting out. I'm not being in there. I can't handle it," Blackwelder told the judge.

    He had been scheduled to die on Tuesday, the 25th anniversary of Florida's resumption of capital punishment. On May 25, 1979, John Spenkelink became the first prisoner Florida put to death after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment.

    But the governor delayed the execution for 24 hours to investigate another prisoner's claim that someone else had confessed to Wigley's murder.

    State investigators found no reason to doubt Blackwelder's guilt and Bush allowed the execution to proceed.

    Wigley, also serving a life sentence, was convicted of raping, torturing and murdering 47-year-old Adella Maria Simmons in 1983.

    Death penalty opponents said executing Blackwell would send a dangerous message to all prisoners serving life sentences.

    "The message goes out to every lifer in the state," said Abe Bonowitz, executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. "If you don't like your life in prison, kill a prison worker or kill a fellow inmate and the state will assist in your suicide."

    Death penalty critics said Blackwelder is the seventh Florida prisoner to "volunteer" for execution in recent years. Others, including serial killer Aileen Wournos and anti-abortion activists Paul Hill, dropped appeals guaranteed under Florida's death penalty statute.

    A total of 911 executions have taken place in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court approved the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Blackwelder was the 59th executed in Florida since then.

    Texas, with 322, has the most among the 38 states with the death penalty, followed by Virginia's 91, Oklahoma's 73, Missouri's 61, and 59 in Florida.

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/05/26/execution.florida.reut/index.html



    Federal appeals court backs Oregon's assisted suicide law
    Decision rules out Bush administration role

    SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A federal appeals court Wednesday declared the Bush administration has no right to interfere with Oregon's assisted suicide law, the only one in the country to allow doctors to help patients end their lives.

    In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals said Attorney General John Ashcroft cannot sanction or hold doctors criminally liable for prescribing overdoses under Oregon's voter-approved Death With Dignity Act.

    "The attorney general's unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide," Circuit Judge Richard Tallman said. He said Ashcroft's threat to take action "far exceeds the scope of his authority under federal law."

    An Oregon official hailed the ruling as a victory for the states.

    "From our perspective, this is a clear defense not just of the Death With Dignity Act, but a clear defense of a state's authority to regulate its own medical practices," said Kevin Neely, spokesman for Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers.

    Oregon voters approved the Death With Dignity Act in 1994 and overwhelmingly affirmed it three years later. The law allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request a lethal dose of drugs. Two doctors must confirm the diagnosis and determine the patient to be mentally competent to make the request.

    Since 1998, at least 171 people have used Oregon's law to end their lives, according to state records. Most suffered from cancer.

    In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court said that there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide but that states may decide the issue for themselves without federal interference.

    Later, the Bush administration Justice Department concluded that suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose" under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal law declaring what drugs doctors may prescribe. The department threatened to punish doctors by revoking the federal licenses they need to prescribe medicine.

    Oregon countered by arguing that regulating and licensing doctors generally has been the sole responsibility of the states. Oregon also said that Congress intended only to prevent illegal drug trafficking by doctors under the Controlled Substances Act, and that it left decisions about medical practice up to the states.

    In 2002, a federal judge in Portland, Oregon, ruled against the Justice Department. In a rebuke to Ashcroft, U.S. District Judge Robert Jones said that the Controlled Substances Act does not give the federal government the power to say what is a legitimate medical practice.

    In a similar 1996 case from Washington state, the 9th Circuit ruled that assisted suicide was permitted because there was a constitutional right to die. That decision meant Washington state could not prosecute doctors who aided their patients' deaths.

    In a dissent Wednesday, Circuit Judge J. Clifford Wallace said the courts should give "substantial deference" to the attorney general's findings in the absence of a clear congressional policy.

    "Certainly, Congress is free to enact legislation limiting or counteracting the Ashcroft directive's effects," Wallace said.

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/05/26/assisted.suicide.ap/index.html
     
  2. TigerO

    TigerO

    lol.

    America, right up there and going strong with totalitarian, unfree countries like communist China, North Korea and Iran where murder is also legalized.

    We couldn't even join the EU if we wanted to because of our barbaric practises, irrespective of which we are still one of the most violent and brutal societies with one of the worst crime rates compared to other really civilized countries in the world.
     
  3. Now see, if they'd have just executed him (instead of giving him life) for his other heinous crimes - the whole thing would have been moot.

    The problem's not that they executed him now - it's that they did NOT execute him then.
     
  4. Lucrum

    Lucrum



    Agreed
     
  5. Coins

    Coins

    Maybe they should offer prisoners with life sentences to be contractors in Iraq.
     
  6. Escape from New York (paraphrased) - "...you have been sentenced to the federal prison of New York for the rest of your life...if you wish to exercise your option for immediate termination, notify the guard before you enter the transfer area..."

    Look at all the money we'd save!!!
     

  7. Some laws are stupid - like here in Brazil minors (younger than 18) won't spend prison time. Crime is rampant with youngsters putting 10+ bullets into random victims just for fun.
    Criminal organizers exploit them into becoming criminals - lackeys of drug lords and so on, but I wouldn't see them killed because of this either.
    600 000 people have been murdered/killed over the last 20 years in Brazil - by police and criminals. Yes, sometimes the police are the criminals too - especially here in Brazil - so I won't differentiate.
     
  8. Penalties aren't just for punishment, but they also serve as deterrant.

    But when the penalty (and probability of its application) is less consequential than the probable gain from a criminal act, there is no deterrant - e.g., if the chance of getting caught dealing drugs is comparatively small and if you are caught the probability of conviction is fairly low and if convicted the sentence is typically maybe only six months in prison ,then compared to the enormous monetary gain achievable, it becomes a pretty easy decision for many.

    It can be a thin line between draconian and properly balanced - but some crimes deserve harsh and mandatory sentences, e.g., commission of a crime using a firearm should be life in prison without parole (don't restrict people's right to use them, properly punish those who abuse them), rape/sexual abuse of a child should be a mandatory death sentence (only because castration and then leaving them naked in the middle of the desert would be considered too cruel for many), premeditated murder should be a death sentence, drug trafficking (focus on dealers and makers, instead of users) should be a death sentence (actually this should be a large scale military search and destroy - the only "war on drugs" that has any chance of working is a real war, but that's another discussion), etc.
     
  9. TigerO

    TigerO

    Results are what count. Unfortunately that's where the US is sadly lacking. America has the most draconian punishments of all so called developed countries - never mind for now that no other developed and civilized country still uses legalized murder apart from us - and yet America is still the most brutal, violent and criminal society out of the developed countries, with the largest portion of it's population per capita behind bars vs other developed countries.

    That is what I'd call total system failure.
     
  10. Maverick74

    Maverick74

    Dude, wake up. Here is a list of countries that use cpaital punishment. It's not a short list.

    Afghanistan
    Algeria
    Antigua and Barbuda
    Armenia
    Bahamas
    Bahrain
    Bangladesh
    Barbados
    Belarus
    Belize
    Benin
    Botswana
    Burundi
    Cameroon
    Chad
    China (People's Republic)
    Comoros
    Congo (Democratic Republic)
    Cuba
    Dominica
    Egypt
    Equatorial Guinea
    Eritrea
    Ethiopia
    Gabon
    Ghana
    Guatemala
    Guinea
    Guyana
    India
    Indonesia
    Iran
    Iraq
    Jamaica
    Japan
    Jordan
    Kazakhstan
    Kenya
    Korea, North
    Korea, South
    Kuwait
    Kyrgyzstan
    Laos
    Lebanon
    Lesotho
    Liberia
    Libya
    Malawi
    Malaysia
    Mauritania
    Mongolia
    Morocco
    Myanmar
    Nigeria
    Oman
    Pakistan
    Palestinian Authority
    Philippines
    Qatar
    Rwanda
    St. Kitts and Nevis
    St. Lucia
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    Saudi Arabia
    Sierra Leone
    Singapore
    Somalia
    Sudan
    Swaziland
    Syria
    Taiwan
    Tajikistan
    Tanzania
    Thailand
    Trinidad and Tobago
    Tunisia
    Uganda
    United Arab Emirates
    United States of America
    Uzbekistan
    Vietnam
    Yemen
    Zambia
    Zimbabwe

    Albania
    Argentina
    Bolivia
    Bosnia-Herzegovina
    Brazil
    Chile
    Cook Islands
    El Salvador
    Fiji
    Greece
    Israel
    Latvia
    Mexico
    Peru
    Turkey

    What were you saying about the US again?
     
    #10     May 27, 2004