Death Penalty - Could you demand it?

Do you favour capital punishment?

  • I support the death penalty
  • I am against the death penalty
  • For in theory, against in practice
  • I want to hear more about Norman Mailer

0 voters

Could people offer their views on all the arguments for and against the death penalty, especially as it relates to the social situation here in Taiwan?

Having lived for a few years in Saudi Arabia where the death penalty is mandatory for a number of crimes, I have to say that it does serve as a deterrent to some extent.
Public beheadings there (which usually take place outside big mosques on a Friday afternoon attract huge crowds of people.
I have to say though, that there’s no cheering or stuff like that when the sword falls, just a round of applause that “justice has been seen to be carried out.”
While this may go some way to deterring violent crime, society has to pay its price as their government is labeled barbarous and oppressive by the international community.
Certainly i do support the worldwide abolition of the death penalty, but feel that the threat of incarceration for life in a Western-style jail is not enough of a deterrent.
Perhaps Taiwan could experiment with “life with hard labor” for a while and judge results from that.

Today’s copy of The Times has a front page picture of Stephen Downing, shortly after the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction for the 1973 murder of Bakewell typist Wendy Sewell. Downing, now 45, spent 27 years in jail after being found guilty of the killing, which he always denied.
I think this is the harsh reality that will always rebut any argument in favor of the death penalty.

Life in prison with nothing to read but “The H Agenda” would be 10x worse than the death penalty.
I can’t believe anyone can be that boring by nature!
Are he and Dan Bloom the same person?

I wonder if we can look at the death penalty in another way. Two issues seem to be key, from the point of view of the government: (1) we want to remove this person from society, (2) we don’t want to use tax dollars to support him/her, because we have many more productive areas for using government monies.

Hence, in order to persuade the government to abolish the death penalty, what is needed is for a private organization to establish a prison which fully complies with government standards, and to raise the necessary funds, and then say to the government “Since we don’t agree with the death penalty, give this person to us, and we will support him for the rest of his natural life.”

Isn’t this perhaps the solution to the entire argument?

Great idea, Richard. Have you suggested this to AI?

Seriously though, how do private jails make their money?

Batgirl: Richard Hartzell and Dan Bloom are two completely different people. You can tell by their writing styles, regardless of what you think of their content. Richard uses much drier, almost clinical prose while Dan is more colloquial. Plus Richard has been here over five times as long as Dan has.

I’ve heard about the idea of private prisons before and for any government (local or national) to even contemplate such a notion would be tantamount to admitting it couldn’t properly handle its most basic function of maintaining law and order.
Though privatization of the penal system might have certain advantages, for the Taiwan government it would be a catastrophic loss of face.
Yah … where does it stop? Private cops sent out to arrest bad guys because the gov’t police are too incompetent/corrupt/lazy to do the job themselves?
C’mon Richard, I don’t know you personally but I do know you’ve lived here long enough …

One element of the debate on capital punishment is the supposition that justice must be infallible, but since it isn’t – as Monkey points out – there will be the instances where an innocent person is executed.
Humans are not infallible and as unsavory as the idea of executing the wrong person is, this is reality.
There is also another point touched on earlier – should prison be simply the depravation of freedoms, or should it also include “punishment” of some form or other? In Arizona not so many years ago, one intrepid warden had inmates do road work and the public had a fit, spouting “cruel and unusual”…

I think sentencing is supposed to serve three purposes:

  1. Punishment and deterrent - stop crime because you know something nasty will happen if you do it.
  2. Removal from society - so that you can’t rape and murder more people - keep the country safe from you.
  3. Rehabilitation - turn you back into a good citizen or in the case of rpison, make sure that whne you’re released you don’t go back to crime

The death penalty (and ‘true’ life imprisonment) are pretty useless for rehabilitation but really good for removal from society. I don’t have a sourcew, but I’m fairly sure that cross-state and across time studies int he US have shown that there saeems to be very little deterrent effect in even the death penalty.

The basic proiblems with the death penalty seem to be (my opinion)

  1. I don’t think the state (or anyone) should have the right to take a life.
  2. Unequal access to justice often means that minorities are overrepresented in death sentences
  3. The system always makes mistakes and it’s impossible to reverseor compensate a death sentence.

On the other hand the death penalty is qucik cheap and efficient(if you cut out long death row appeals).



regards your third point it could be argued that removal of the death penalty could be interrupted as a failure in the justice system.
If you are found gulity by a unanimous decision then you should be guilty. If the people say we can’t execute him, just incase we are wrong, then the problem is with the justice system. Of course this is just putting a spin on your point.

Regards rehabilitation, I wonder how many precentage of the time it works?
And does rehabilitation involve mind altering techniques and conditioning or is it just teaching them that crime is wrong?

The death penalty as a deterent doesn’t work. Maybe cause when people commit crimes they still think they can get a way with them. How many unsolved crimes go by every year?
Bring back Matlock, Perry Mason and Colombo I say.

Remember rehab, incarsoration, execution etc is only treating the symptoms and not the cause.


Private prisons do not remove the tax-dollar issue… because surely the client will be the government. It may lower the burden, IF the private jails can be run at a lower cost than the government ones.

And yet, there may be another way to lower the tax burden. How about having private prisons raise a portion of their revenues from the family of the convict? In effect, the family of a lifer would be paying to keep them alive.

Personally, I am against this idea because it forces one individual to pay for the crimes of another - just because they are related. (Of course, the family could refuse and therefore the sentence would revert to capital punishment.) Nevertheless, in family-based societies, the idea may have support. But a bit too…well… grotesque for me.

Expense to tax payers is so great that prisons lack space and facilities. In the States, this means that overcrowding forces the early release of many convicts.

A case could be made for privatization based on these economics. Covert prisons into high security factories, they turn a profit, and relieve the government of this tremendous financial burden. After the initial investment and administrative costs, prison factory line labor is free. OSHA or some other entity would be left to monitor working conditions.

Enter Chinese prisons and the goods from them – embargoed by the US because 1) who can compete with free labor, and 2) who can guarantee these places aren’t concentration camps or gulags?

If prisons were privatized in Taiwan, they wouldn’t be able to export for this reason. They probably wouldn’t be able to sell domestically either because other local non-correctional manufacturing facilities couldn’t compete. I think that’s been the death blow to the argument of privatization.

To Wolf. Sheriff Joe in Arizona is wildly popular. The national media throws ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ at the rest of you, but we love to see female inmates in chain gang duds cleaning up the sides of our roads under the close supervision of burly, shotgun toting deputies on horseback.

To deal with over crowding, Sheriff Joe sticks convicts in circus tents and lets them sweat. No TVs, no AC, no gyms – just dirt. We’re all tickled pink – just like the color of their boxer shorts. (Prison issue boxers were being smuggled out so Sheriff Joe dyed them all pink thinking nobody would want them. Result was increased demand. Now gang bangers all over the valley hike they’re shorts way up and sport the pink prison issues like a badge of courage.)

Don’t forget Ironside…

I find much of the commentary above to be enlightening. However, if we do not allow private prisons, which can raise the funds to support their inmates in any way they see fit, then don’t we run directly into the crux of the problem?

The crux of the problem is this: Many people are against the death penalty, and so they are very critical of this policy. However, they do not bear any responsibility for their criticism.

It is easy to criticize without being responsible, is it not?

Someone says: I don’t agree with the death penalty, so that type of punishment should be removed from the statutes.

But the government replies: “Fine, but who pays for building new prisons, and who pays for supporting the people incarcerated there?”

These critics reply: “Well, of course, that is your problem!!!”

Isn’t this extremely hypocritical, and at least a little unfair???

If someone wants to criticize, should they not be responsible for IMPLEMENTING A BETTER SOLUTION?

Implementing or suggesting?

If the only ones allowed to criticize are those who have the power and money to carry out any changes… isn’t that a dictatorship or something close?

I pay taxes. I have every goddam right to criticize if I think the government’s not making the best use of its money.

However, if I were to say, for example:

“I disapprove of the death penalty, but don’t you dare raise my taxes or take budget out of the road construction budget to pay for more prisons,” then yes, I guess that would be hypocritical.

But not even being allowed to criticize? Wrong side of the Strait, at least so far, Richard.

On another note, wouldn’t raising Taiwan’s low tax rates go a long way to solving the money-for-prisons question?

Richard has a point - often people demand services (and being against the death sentence is pretty much the same as demanding a bigger prison service) and then are not prepared to stump up the cash - or, if they do see the need for taxes, often want someone else to pay for it… preferrably someone richer than they are. Personally, I think there is a demand for better government services in Taiwan and that people would put up with a slight rise in tax rates - but only if the goiverment didn’t seem to wste so much of their money in poor quality construction.

I think this discussion could be usefully broadened to include all government services. Taiwan has a low tax rate - its true. But look at this place. It’s falling to bits! It takes an age to get anything done and then the bloody thing falls down in less time than it took to build.

Taiwan’s infrastructure is lousy - and I mean lousy compared to other Asian cities. Its leisure facilities are poor, too. The national electricity system can be brought to a standstill by the failure of one cable! Its public transport system … well, not the best, eh? Buildings are falling apart. And prime sites in the centre of town lie dormant.

Now, is the problem too little government spending, or just bad government spending, or perhaps something more fundamental - people never saw Taiwan as a place to live long-term, so they never bothered about building it up right?

Bit of a digression - I know. Sorry. If you want to move this to a new thread, fine by me.

The issue seems pretty simple when you simplify it. If it’s wrong to kill somebody, then it should be wrong for the gov’t to kill as a form of punishment. That’s the only hypocrisy I see.

Anyone have any data on the $$ spent for incarcerating a person for 40 years vs. executing them (appeals, security, additional death row costs, etc.)?

It costs more to execute a person in the US than it does to keep them alive. What about Taiwan?

And one more point.

Back when Chen whats-his-name rapist murderer was awaiting the bullet, I recall that there was a public opinion survey on the death penalty and the consensus was overwhelmingly – overwhelmingly, in favor of capital punishment.

Doesn’t that count for anything?

Seen in Ann Landers –

As long as countries like the USA have capital punishment, we must make every effort to reduce the danger of wrongful death sentences. The Constitution Project in Washington, D.C., has created a bipartisan death penaly initiative consisting of supporters and opponents of the death penalty. The members include law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, prison officials, victim advocates, religious leaders, journalists, and others.

Whether they support or oppose the death penalty, we hope your readers will want to learn more about the fundamental aspects of the current system and how we can fix them. The report is available at