Class Warfare Blog

April 8, 2013

The Death Penalty is a Class Warfare Issue

Filed under: Philosophy,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 7:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Yes, I am going to write about the death penalty. And, yes, this is a class warfare issue if for no other reason that the oft quoted: “our criminal justice system treats rich guilty people better than poor innocent people.” (S’truth!)

There are several levels in this discussion, I will limit myself to just two.

The Practical Level
Many are shocked to hear that “you have the right to have an attorney” so oft quoted in cop procedural shows on TV only dates back to the 1960’s when the Supreme Court established that right (the right to legal representation) as an aspect of equal and fair treatment of citizens by the government. Most of you think that “Public Defenders,” often portrayed as over-worked and under-paid public servants on TV, are ubiquitous and reasonably competent. This is wrong. Only eleven states have a public defender system that is statewide. Some states allow counties to handle the problem however they may. In some of those counties, judges have a list of local attorneys they can assign to defend poor folks accused of a crime, but in most cases they are limited in what they can be paid and what they can spend to create a defense. In one case, a case involving the death penalty, the public defender was given a whole one thousand dollars to create his defense, a thousand bucks, wow! Often they are also limited in competence. If your PD is drunk in court or falls asleep or tells the jury you are guilty, you will have to find another attorney who will argue to the court that their incompetence hurt your case. Otherwise, tough titty.

Rich people are never on death row. Period.

But innocent people are. There have been 140 cases in the recent past in which DNA evidence has been used to exonerate an inmate on death row, indicating that a sizable percentage of jailbirds sitting and waiting to be executed are innocent. Can’t tell how many there were in the past, but in the absence of any legal assistance whatsoever (competent or not), one has to believe that prior to the 1960’s the rate was probably higher.

And even if you have a Public Defender, his case load is 3-4 times higher than recommended by national law bodies, so I don’t expect they’ll have time to get you off if you are tried or retied if you are convicted.

The death penalty is neither fair nor does it involve equal treatment under the law. It has also been shown to be neither a deterrent to such crimes, or when it is one, a very poor one.

As a purely practical matter, a death penalty case costs us way more to prosecute than case involving a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole, actually it is several times more costly than locking the asshole up and throwing away the key, so we have to ask what we are getting for all of that money. I answer that next.

The Emotional Level
Notably a presidential candidate was asked in a debate that if his wife had been raped and murdered, would he approve the death penalty in that case. The candidate answered “no” not very effectively. I can answer it much better. If the son of a bitch were executed, it would end his suffering, so I would oppose it. I would like the bastard to be in a cell with a view, a nice view of the world he doesn’t get to be in any more, not tomorrow, not the next day, never. All he would get is a crummy prison cell, three square but boring meals a day, and if God is just, just Fox (sic) News to watch. I really want this guy to suffer. Why would I want to cut that off and pay a lot of money to do so?

The miscreant’s death (if indeed they are guilty) also precludes any reprieve from new evidence.

His death precludes him from finding redemption through meditation of even, ugh, religion.

It also precludes me from having the opportunity to find forgiveness. This does happen. Victims do find it in their hearts to forgive those who have wronged them.

Emotionally, the death penalty, is a form of retribution (vengeance, Bubba) that cuts off all futures . . . everything: continuing suffering for the crime, possible retribution, forgiveness, etc. all cut off.

It is basically a stupid idea born of anger and transformed by privilege: rich people get retribution on poor people but not vice-versa. If, in the heat of the moment, if I found my wife raped and killed, I would attack the perpetrator personally and do my best to fuck him up to the maximum extent, slowly if I could pull it off. But when cooler heads prevail, in our criminal justice system, if there is to be justice, we need to be rid of the death penalty.



  1. Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;
    Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
    And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks:
    Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.


    Comment by orwell1627 — April 8, 2013 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  2. Or, if the person were a conservative, the punishment could be watching MSNBC or reading your blog 🙂


    Comment by List of X — April 9, 2013 @ 12:37 am | Reply

  3. You do have a way of making life without parol look so much more appealing to those death sentence advocates. 🙂


    Comment by lbwoodgate — April 9, 2013 @ 7:06 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: