August 24, 2007

John Couey Sentenced to Die

Filed under: Capital Punishment,Democrats,Politics,Trials/Lawsuits — acepundit @ 3:40 pm

Whenever a high profile killer is sentenced to death I like to see how the folks at Democratic Underground handle it. While I don’t support capital punishment I will hardly feel sorry for the man who kidnapped, raped and killed a nine-year-old girl. Many Democrats feel the same way, but a great number are preparing for John Couey’s vigil. Call our system barbaric if you want to, but it gave him at least 24 chances; one for every burglary arrest on his record.

If any part of our criminal justice system needs an immediate overhaul it’s not the death penalty, it’s the lax treatment we afford to repeat offenders.


July 19, 2007

An Inconvenient Link

Filed under: Capital Punishment,Child Exploitation,Politics,Trials/Lawsuits — acepundit @ 4:44 pm

It isn’t published yet, but when this supposedly controversial study makes it rounds I doubt we’ll see any much needed changes to the status quo:

Experts have often wondered what proportion of men who download explicit sexual images of children also molest them. A new government study of convicted Internet offenders suggests that the number may be startlingly high: 85 percent of the offenders said they had committed acts of sexual abuse against minors, from inappropriate touching to rape.

The study, which has not yet been published, is stirring a vehement debate among psychologists, law enforcement officers and prison officials, who cannot agree on how the findings should be presented or interpreted.

This yet-to-be-published study surprises me as much as the discovery of the extensive criminal history of the rapist who just gave us another pretty white girl to bury.

Studies have widely found a link between pornography and violent criminals, so it’s only natural to see a link between child abusers and child pornography. Of course, not all subscribers and purveys of pornography are criminals, but unlike collectors of child rags they don’t have to suppress their sexual urges to be on the good side of the law.

It is simply not a baffling discovery when one who has been released on charges of possessing child pornography is found to be in the inappropriate company of children. The 85% statistic means that the other 15 weren’t bold enough to act on their desires.

Unfortunately, hard prison (the one rational solution) takes a backseat to theory of rehabilitation adopted by criminologists and “health experts” who try to do the humane thing by recycling society’s most depraved back into the community thinking they’ve made them more productive.

But then a body turns up and we have just gone from discussing what to do with middle-level sex offenders to debating capital punishment and how we could have “seen it coming.”

So we ask: How many offenders in that 85% category have been convicted of a felony or sex crime before molesting a child – before getting busted for viewing child pornography? Then we realize that a two-month sentence for inappropriate contact with a minor is too short and by getting tougher we can prevent someone from molesting a child who only then gets caught for the lesser offense of viewing child porn – because they’ll be behind bars.

It really is that easy.

June 11, 2007

Studies Show Capital Punishment Deters Crime

Filed under: Capital Punishment,Politics — acepundit @ 7:17 pm

The critics call the data “inconclusive,” which is another way of saying we’re not yet ready to agree with the findings contrary to our longstanding position. I’d recommend reading the entire article:

What gets little notice, however, is a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument — whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it,” said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect.”

A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. “The results are robust, they don’t really go away,” he said. “I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) — what am I going to do, hide them?”

Hide them is exactly what many criminologists intend to do. I spent a great deal of time in academia studying capital punishment and the conventional wisdom there is that the death penalty has no deterrent effect. Most criminals are irrational and don’t contemplate capture, let alone their punishment if caught, tried and convicted.

It seems to make sense, and because the majority of criminologists and law professors that teach at the universities personally oppose capital punishment, that view is most likely the one to prevail.

The only evidence they have is the comparison of homicide rates between the states that use the death penalty and the ones that don’t. But because each state in the union is uniquely different it’s hard to say how much of an influence the penal code has on criminal behavior.

Capital punishment has always been looked down on, hence the “inconclusive” label for these studies. Liberal law professor and death penalty opponent Cass Sunstein said the data needs “more study” and remarked: “If it’s the case that executing murderers prevents the execution of innocents by murderers, then the moral evaluation is not simple. Abolitionists or others, like me, who are skeptical about the death penalty haven’t given adequate consideration to the possibility that innocent life is saved by the death penalty.”

I don’t know how much more “studying” would need to be done to get the skeptics on board with the majority of Americans who favor the death penalty, but something tells me the Sunsteins of the world will never be persuaded.

June 9, 2007

Majority Still Support Capital Punishment

Filed under: Capital Punishment,Politics — acepundit @ 7:12 pm

The Death Penalty Information Center, a group that opposes capital punishment, conducted a survey and found that 62% of respondents favor the use of capital punishment.

The results are hardly surprising as Americans have steadily supported the death penalty despite the group’s saying support has eroded, pointing to a decline in the number of executions carried out in recent years.

However, recent legal challenges have contributed more to the decline of executions than public support, and this year the federal courts have upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection. Bad news for the citizens of death row.

June 4, 2007

ACLU Happenings: Child Porn and Spotlighting Executioners

Filed under: ACLU,Capital Punishment,Child Exploitation — acepundit @ 5:04 pm

This week in ACLU Happenings, former head of the Virginia ACLU pleaded guilty to charges that he purchased child pornography so graphic that prosecutors called it “sadistic.”

Charles Rust-Tierney, 51, admitted that he accessed more than 850 pornographic images of children as young as 4, including a six-minute video depicting the sexual torture of children set to a song by the band Nine Inch Nails. Authorities said Rust-Tierney used a computer in his 10-year-old son’s bedroom to view the files, some of which were contained on CDs bearing an American flag logo.

Not much one can really say about this other than the lack of media attention for such a prominent interest group. In other news, the ACLU wants to make the names of those involved in state and federal executions public. They claim it’s necessary to know who’s involved when investigating claims of executions gone awry possibly resulting in cruel and unusual punishment. The question is whether the benefit of knowing who took part in an execution is worth the risk of their safety with their identity being known.

May 31, 2007

Death Sentence for Rape

Filed under: Capital Punishment,Politics,Supreme Court — acepundit @ 10:03 pm

Reports CNN:

Louisiana’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a man may be executed for raping an 8-year-old girl, and lawyers say his case may become the test for whether the nation’s highest court upholds the death penalty for someone who rapes a child.

In 1974, a gentlemanly bloke named Erlich Anthony Coker, who was serving a number of sentences for murder, rape, kidnapping, and assault, escaped from prison. During his short period of freedom he broke into a Georgia couple’s home, raped the woman and stole their car. For the rape charge the Georgia courts sentenced him to death.

In 1977 the Supreme Court by a vote of 7-2 overturned the “grossly disproportionate” sentence in Coker v. Georgia saying that the non-homicidal rape of an adult woman does not warrant our nation’s highest form of punishment.

This case involving the 8-year-old girl could give the current Supreme Court the opportunity to once again decide the applicability of capital punishment to rape. It’s possible that the court will overturn Coker entirely and allow the states to decide which crimes warrant the death penalty, but I believe if this case reaches the Supreme Court the justices will expand Coker to include rapes against minors.

Lately, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has most often aligned with the conservatives to form 5-4 majorities, the most recent being Tuesday’s Ledbetter decision that still has Ruth Bader Ginsburg fuming.

But Justice Kennedy is very leery when it comes to capital punishment and wound up siding with the liberals in two very big 5-4 decisions that barred the use of capital punishment on minors and the mentally retarded. I would not be surprised if we saw another 5-4 decision with him joining the liberals barring capital punishment on offenders guilty of non-homicidal rape.

As an opponent of capital punishment I don’t like the idea of capital punishment being expanded to include lesser crimes, and to avoid calling rape a “lesser crime” I’ll say I’d hate to see it applied to, say, armed robbery. Or grand theft auto. Or tax fraud.

But nevertheless capital punishment is a debate for the states to have. The Constitution clearly invites the use of the death penalty via the Fifth Amendment so let the states decide how it should be used.

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