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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:56 am 
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After a hiatus of some years, Indonesia has resumed executions for drug traffickers, much to the displeasure of the governments of countries like Brazil and the Netherlands whose citizens have been shot.

It is interesting to note that the idea that drug traffickers should die is the norm in East Asia – trafficking it is a capital crime in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. In some countries the death penalty is an option, while in others (most notably Malaysia and Singapore) it is mandatory. No recommendation from the prosecution, no sentencing phase, no jury deliberation (and no jury), no consideration of prospects of rehabilitation, no mitigating factors, nothing. My understanding is that there is significantly less debate on this point than there is, for example, on capital punishment in the U.S. generally. A recent review in Singapore, for example, which proposed replacing death with life without parole for certain drug offences got nowhere.

This is once again a hot-button issue in Australia because two members of the ‘Bali 9’, nine Australians who were arrested carrying heroin in 2005, are expected to face the firing squad shortly. The other seven are currently serving sentences of twenty years to life.

The Governor of the prison where the two condemned men are currently awaiting transfer to the island where executions are held has actually come out and said that they are model prisoners who should not be executed because of the good influence they have on the inmates. Both were in their early twenties when they were arrested, and have used the intervening decade to turn their lives around to a remarkable degree. Myuran Sukumaran is studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts by correspondence and has launched his own clothing brand and turned it into a successful business. Andrew Chan has become a born-again Christian, leads a church service and counsels other prisoners. Both teach English and act in a leadership role in the prison. But at Indonesian law (as in the law in the other countries in the region) this is irrelevant. In fact, compared to some other countries, Indonesia is fairly benign. In Malaysia or Singapore, all nine of the convicted smugglers would have been hanged years ago, and they would have been kept in solitary confinement between sentencing and execution.

Another controversy comes from the allegations that the Australian Federal Police could have arrested the nine in Australia, but instead tipped off the Indonesian authorities. Australia will generally not co-operate in international law enforcement operations where there is the possibility that its citizens will receive the death penalty (this is the norm among non-capital jurisdictions IIRC).

The biggest issue, though, is that Indonesia generally and the new president, Joko Widido, do not want to be seen to be under western ‘colonialist’ influence. I read an article a little while ago which suggested that, had the Australian media not jumped on the story as it did, then the entire thing might have been quietly arranged between Jakarta and Canberra without the former looking weak. Any back down now, though, will look like a cave-in.

It is also worth noting that western countries have not been entirely consistent on this issue. Nobody complained when the Bali bombers were executed. The question is, do we object to the Indonesians having the death penalty at all (as our politicians claim), do we object to the death penalty for the non-violent crime of drug trafficking, or do we just not like Asian countries executing our citizens?

So Chan and Sukumaran will be shot, probably next week. Sympathy for them in this country has varied, from people holding to vigils to others arguing that they set out to try and make four million dollars and the expense of drug addicts and the victims of drug-related crimes knowing full-well what would happen to them if they were caught. High reward, high risk. A radio station ran a poll where 60% of responded suggested that Indonesia should execute the men in accordance with its laws. This bought a rebuke from the ABC’s Media Watch program, which said the poll should not have been published.

I have to wonder how effective the hard line on drug traffickers is, though. Singapore, for example, claims that it has made huge inroads in stamping out heroin addiction, yet people still seem to get caught and executed for having drugs.


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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:55 am 
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The Utah State Senate has voted to allow the firing squad to be restored as the State’s method of execution should the drugs used in lethal injection not be available. The bill now rests with the governor.

There are a lot of really strange things (to my mind) about capital punishment as it is applied in the United States, but one of the most strange is the inability of courts and legislatures to settle on a reliable method. Every other developed country that retains capital punishment uses either hanging or a firing squad. And, to my knowledge, every execution in the United States following the re-introduction of capital punishment in Furman using either of those methods has gone smoothly. The gas chamber has had issues, the electric chair has had issues, and lethal injection depends on a supply of difficult-to-obtain drugs, has issues and sometimes hasn’t worked at all. Yet states overwhelmingly stick to lethal injection, with the electric chair as a secondary option. It shouldn’t be that hard to kill someone, really. And my view is that if you're not willing to do it through a quick and reliable method because it looks too violent, maybe you shouldn't be doing it at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:16 pm 
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Yes, we seem to like the idea of capital punishment more than the brass tacks aspects of it. My feeling is if we as a society can't accept the most effective (and by effective I mean swift and certain) execution methods because they are considered too gruesome then perhaps we should just get out of the business altogether. You can't have it both ways. If you sentence someone to die, you have to make a corpse and there's no nice way to go about that that'll keep everyone's hands all pretty and clean.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:26 am 
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Personally, I think the guillotine was the most efficient and effective method. As long as the mechanism was working smoothly, it was fool-proof, quick and I would think relatively painless.


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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:26 am 
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Personally, I think the guillotine was the most efficient and effective method. As long as the mechanism was working smoothly, it was fool-proof, quick and I would think relatively painless.


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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:16 am 
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JewelSong wrote:
Personally, I think the guillotine was the most efficient and effective method. As long as the mechanism was working smoothly, it was fool-proof, quick and I would think relatively painless.


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France used the guillotine until its final execution in 1977, and had no issues as far as I know. Although I can understand if people shy away a little from it given it must leave a truly awful clean-up afterwards.

I seem to recall a state legislator somewhere in the Southern U.S. trying to get beheading approved as the state's method of capital punishment. It would sure beat lethal injection for ease, reliability and swiftness.


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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:55 pm 
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I guess they wouldn't use a sword or an axe. But gahhhhhh. What River said.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:54 pm 
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The guillotine was developed to avoid the botched beheadings swords and axes were notorious for. Nice sharp blade, everything's lined up nicely and...yeah. Never fails but yeah.

Of course, someone has to clean up no matter what method you use.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:32 am 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
I guess they wouldn't use a sword or an axe. But gahhhhhh. What River said.


I'm sure a few jurisdictions in Europe continued to use beheading with a sword or axe into the 20th century, come to think of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:25 am 
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A strategically placed bucket would make clean-up a breeze.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:18 pm 
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You'd need some sort of spatter guard too. The pressure in major arteries is rather high. I'll let your imagination do the rest.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:55 pm 
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Didn't someone post once that there's some evidence that consciousness continues for a while after beheading?

I've read more than one anecdote about lips moving after the event (e.g. Mary, Queen of Scots). They may have been trying to communicate, but without vocal folds and lungs, no actual speech would be possible.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:33 pm 
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Jude wrote:
Didn't someone post once that there's some evidence that consciousness continues for a while after beheading?


I'd sedate them first. We've figured out how to do that safely pretty well.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:56 am 
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Not to indulge in morbid speculation, but I don't think anything beyond primitive reflexes would continue after that kind of neurologic and hematologic shock. No consciousness. Once you've experienced how instantaneous anesthesia is, you believe this viscerally. Or at least I do. Kabam! Hi! It's five hours later! How are you?

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:26 am 
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You guys! This thread! Ullllllllllllgh......
:scarey:

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 2:00 pm 
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:agree:

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:34 pm 
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Sorry. . . . :(

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 7:35 pm 
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Which, you know, kinda proves LM's point....

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:51 am 
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And that's why you don't allow engineers into the room when making this sort of decisions.

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 Post subject: Re: Capital punishment
PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:53 am 
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Seven people convicted of drug trafficking, mostly foreigners, were shot in Indonesia this morning. Indonesia’s Attorney-General assured the foreign media that “all shots were done perfectly. These executions were carried out smoothly and in order — much better than the first round of executions in January”.

The position of Indonesia’s Government – particularly the administration of new President Joko Widodo – is that capital punishment is an unpleasant but essential part of the War on Drugs. I expect that, based on this, the country will continue to work through the backlog of capital convictions which accumulated during the ten-year effective moratorium on executions for drug offences which existed under the previous Administration.

I am not morally opposed to capital punishment per se, but I think there is no way of making it achieve its goals in practice. This case has, I think, been a good example. The ten year moratorium on executions meant that two Australians who were executed, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, had spent a decade a custody between sentencing and execution. In that time (as I described in my post upthread) they were basically rehabilitated, and at the time of their execution were (as far as many people, including officers in their prison, could tell) could have been readily released.

Like many other people, I found the idea of these two men suffering the same fate as Amrozi the ‘Smiling Bomber’, who treated killing hundreds of people in the Bali Bombings as a source of delight and humour throughout his trial, unjust. For serious drug offences, though, Indonesia does not recognise these differences – drug trafficking is viewed on the same level as terrorism, and prospective or actual rehabilitation does not play much (if any) role in sentencing.

This does, however, expose the West’s inconsistency on this. The Australian public was happy for Indonesia to shoot terrorists who killed Australians, but object to them shooting Australians who traffic drugs. It also exposes the politics of capital punishment – the Indonesian government wants to show to its own citizens that it does not give into foreign (particularly Western) pressure when it comes to protecting them from drug-related crime.

On a personal level, I felt a sense of foreboding last night, and a sinking feeling when I awoke this morning knowing the men were now dead. My original attitude was “if you won’t don’t want the Indonesians to shoot you, don’t take drugs into Indonesia”, but after following the intensive media coverage I found myself sympathising with them more and more. Which was probably what the media was trying to do – it was an epic story in the making from the start.

Apparently they all refused blindfolds and sang “Amazing Grace” as they waited for the firing squad. I find that moving, but I have to ask – would I find it moving if they were rapists and murderers? But if they were rapists and murderers, would I like them to have the run of media coverage and public interest in their final minutes? It seems that capital punishment doesn’t work either way.


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