No other country has as many people in prisons and jails. One in 100 Adults Behind Bars (Pew Report) National prison population tripled from 1987 to 2007. Currently 2.3 million Americans in prisons and jails Cost of prisoner: $25K per year; $65K investment per bed About 1 in every 15 persons will serve time in prison during their lifetime.
Almost 1/3 of African Americans will serve time in prison during their lifetimes; 17% of Hispanic males, 5.9% of white males. Men are ten times more likely to go to prison than women. Source: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cri moff.htm#lifetime
Highest inmate count: 5% of the world’s population, almost 25% of its prisoners; Punitive Damages: usually not awarded in foreign civil courts; Bail for profit; Serving Life for Providing Car to Killers’ Sentencing adolescents as adults and sentencing them to life; Using partisan expert witnesses; Rejecting all evidence if police err; Freedom for offensive speech; Electing judges.
Autonomy and Rights Human Dignity Beneficence and Non- Malficence Justice and Fairness
“Laws designed to temper human conduct should not embrace a savage example. To me it is an absurdity that the law which expresses the common will and detests and punishes homicide should itself commit one.”- Casare di Beccaria (1764)
Punishment= “A harm inflicted by a person in a position of authority upon another person who is judged to have violated a rule.
Two ways of justifying punishment Backward-looking: retribution for a past wrong, the lex talionis Forward-looking: deterrence against future crimes
Lex talionis, “an eye for an eye,” “a tooth for a tooth” Core concept: the offender should suffer at least equally to the victim Is the lex talionis restricted by prohibitions against cruelty, etc. Distinguish between whether the offender deserves the punishment and whether we would be demeaned by punishing in that way.
Critics of retributivism have argued that it is just revenge dressed up in nice clothing. Replies: Yes, it is revenge, but that’s ok No, retribution is about something more than revenge: about balancing the scales of justice, about safeguarding the rights of victims, and about changing perpetrators.
Fundamental metaphor: an underlying balance which must, if upset, be put back in order. Punishment is seen as resetting the moral balance by punishing the offense Punishment of elderly Nazis
Victims, some retributivists argue, have a right to see the perpetrators suffer their just desserts Example: families of victims at executions
Some retributivists, especially in the Kantian tradition, argue that punishment should have certain effects on the perpetrators, including insight into their crime, including compassion for victim insight into their crime, including compassion for victim Will “wipe the slate clean”
Does it really justify punishment? Lex talionis offers little guidance in specific cases of punishment. Can lead in particular cases to punishments that are cruel and that have no morally good effects
Crime is a disease- psychological and social problems of the individuals. Is the death penalty as act of giving up hope on the possibility of salvation in this life for the murderer? Should we give up hope in some cases?
Some have objected that prisons are training schools for prisoners. May conflict with demands of retribution. May result in longer sentences in some cases, much shorter in others. May be very costly to administer
Both opponents and defenders of the death penalty appeal to the sanctity of life Opponents say life is sacred and no one should take it (Catholic Bishops) Advocates say that the way to honor the sanctity of life is to execute those who have so violated its sanctity by murdering someone
“Death penalty should be abolished as a manifestation of our belief in the unique worth and dignity of each person, a creature made in the image of God. Such an act is most consistent with the example of Jesus who both taught and practiced the forgiveness of justice.”
Many justify punishment as an institution by its deterrent effect Deters the convicted criminal from committing the same crime again Deters others from committing that crime
The deterrence argument has two premises: ◦ Empirical Premise: Punishment deters crime. ◦ Normative Premise: Reducing crime is good. Conclusion: Punishment is good.
Does the death penalty deter? That particular criminal Other possible criminals Some researchers have argued that the death penalty saves 7-8 innocent lives a year. Do capital punishment states have lower rate of capital crimes?
Common sense says that the death penalty is worse to an offender than life in prison. Questions: ◦ Do criminals think they will be punished? ◦ Does this establish a climate of brutalization?
If capital punishment is justified in terms of deterrence, then should we do whatever we can to increase their deterrent effect, including: ◦ execute more swiftly? ◦ televise executions?
“Punishment arises out of the demand for justice; justice is demanded by angry, morally indignant men; its purpose is to satisfy the moral indignation and thereby promote law abidingness.”
We bet on CP- CP works: some murderers die and some innocents are saved. CP Doesn’t Work: Some murderers die for no purpose. We bet against CP- CP works: Some murderers live and some innocents die. CP Doesn’t work: Murderers live and the lives of others are unaffected. Lets sum-A murderer saved= +5; A murderer executed= -5; An innocent saved= +10; An innocent murdered= -10.
Suppose that for each execution only two innocents are spared, then the outcome is: a. -5 + 20= +15 ◦ b. – 5 ◦ c. +5-20= -15 ◦ d. + 5 If bet on CP, a+ b obtain= +10; If bet against CP, c + d obtain = -10. To execute convicted murderers would be a good bet; to abolish the death penalty would be a bad debt- we unnecessarily put the innocent at risk.
The Innocence Project (157 exonerated): The Innocence Project (157 exonerated): http://www.innocenceproject.org/ Sources of Mistakes: 2 DNA Inclusions at Time of Trial 6 Other Forensic Inclusions 15 False Confessions 16Informants / Snitches 17 False Witness Testimony 21 Microscopic Hair Comparison Matches 23 Bad Lawyering 26 Defective or Fraudulent Science 34 Prosecutorial Misconduct 38 Police Misconduct 40 Serology Inclusion 61 Mistaken ID
Possible racial bias on basis of: Race of perpetrator Race of victim Subtle bias in terms of how offenders are charged, how the prosecution proceeds, etc.
Mexican nationals were often denied access to consular aid. Many other countries, including Mexico, do not have the death penalty
Statements from Doctors and Medical Organizations Curfman, et al;, “Physicians and Execution,” New England Journal of Medicine, January 24, 2008Video Breach of Trust: Physician Participation in Executions in the United States. This report, published jointly by Physicians for Human Rights, the American College of Physicians, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and Human Rights Watch in 1994, deals with the ethical issues involved with physician participation in capital punishment. PDF
In many places in the United States, children had been tried as adults even though they are less than 18. In Florida, a 14 year old boy was given a sentence of life without parole for killing a 6 year old girl when he was 12 years old. On March 1, 2005 the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for crimes committed when the offender was less than 18 years old in Roper v. Simmons. This affected In Florida, a 14 year old boy was given a sentence of life without parole for killing a 6 year old girl when he was 12 years old. On March 1, 2005 the Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for crimes committed when the offender was less than 18 years old in Roper v. Simmons. This affected persons on death row: Texas: 29 Alabama: 14 Mississippi: 5 Ariz., La., N.C.: 4 each Fla., S.C.: 3 each Ga., Pa.: 2 each Nev., Va.: 1 The younger the perpetrator, the greater the reason for trying to rehabilitate rather than simply punish.