Some of My Answers to My Own Survey

For some time, I’ve had a link to a survey on KwikSurveys.com.  It has been slowly getting answers – but there are nowhere near enough responses yet for me to want to summarize the results yet – even if I’ve privately noted some trends.  But, I thought I’d mention my personal selections and why I chose them.  Some of this will be a repeat, some will be new.

I’ll skip the demographic information, so the first question is “Are you in favor of the death penalty?”  The answer to that is, “yes.”  I’ve explained before how I believe that at least on some level, people ask 3 questions before they do something that some authority (self, state, God, etc.) says is wrong: “is this wrong?”, “will I get caught?”, and “can I tolerate the punishment?”  The latter probably is more correctly “will the punishment outweigh whatever benefit I derive from this act?”  The fact that there are people out there who will commit all sorts of crimes, knowing their likelihood of getting caught is high, or fairly high, and that there are drastic punishments if they get caught, tells me that we need capital punishment.

The next question is “If you are in favor, what crimes should be punishable by a mandatory sentence of death:”  This is followed by a number of possible choices.  I chose:

  • Worst Murders (For hire, police officer, etc.)
    • In some ways this is obvious.  Nearly everyone who supports the death penalty in some way, believes that it should apply to the worst murders.  I believe that these murders should carry an automatic and mandatory death penalty – with some mitigation for age, mental  age (IQ), and insanity.  An incomplete list of conditions I would think move the murder into the category mandating a sentence of death would include:
      • Murder of police or fire personnel carrying out their job
      • Murder of political leaders for political purpose
      • Murder of judicial personnel in relation to their job
      • Murder of a witness to a crime, for the purpose of preventing testimony or in retaliation
      • Murder for financial gain.
      • Murder by involvement in a violent felony that results in the death of an innocent individual.  This should extend not just to the person who directly caused the death, but everyone involved.
  • Child Molestation
    • If current studies are correct, a molested child is scarred for life.  Further, this is preying on the most innocent members of our society and often friends or families.  Clearly, there needs to be a cap on the victim’s age and the difference between the ages of the victim and the criminal before the mandatory death penalty provision applies.
  • Multiple Rape
    • Persons who have raped multiple women – especially if they have previously been convicted of rape – are clearly incapable of controlling their need to dominate and subjugate women (or in some cases other men).  In many cases, cut off from women, they simply move to men.
  • Worst Rape
    • This has similar reasons as the last two.  In far too many ways, rape is almost murder.  Rapists are almost universally exerting power in a way that only the worst murders do.  I’m not equipped to quite explain exactly how I mean this, however.
    • One thing I would classify as “worst rape” is gang rape.
  • Crimes against State Security (Espionage, Treason, etc.)
    • Whether we like it or not, everyone relies on the State for protection from hostile insiders and outsiders.  In order to do that job, the State inevitably ends up keeping secrets – and if someone who has been trusted with those secrets and violates that trust has endangered everyone the State protects.

The next question is: “If you are in favor, what crimes should carry a discretionary sentence of death:”  I won’t repeat the ones I listed in the previous answer.

  • All Murders
    • Anyone who takes a life – except in truly unavoidable and accidental circumstances – should put their own life at risk.  But some of the less serious cases there may be grounds for an alternate to a sentence of death, and the judge or jury should be given the chance to make that determination.
  • All Rape
    • Again, rape isn’t that much less of a crime than murder, and may be equal.  So it should be treated equally.
  • Aggravated Vehicular Homicide
    • If someone is so drunk or so distracted that they end up causing a major accident, they should be treated like the murders that they are.
  • Perjury leading to the execution of an innocent individual, and Perjury in a capital penalty case that lead to a death sentence, regardless of execution.
    • One of the dangers of having a death penalty is that it will get applied to someone who is innocent.  I believe that it is rare that this happens without someone providing false testimony.  If that false testimony is deliberately given, especially knowing or intending the likely outcome, again this is tantamount to murder.  If an innocent person is executed, and someone perjured themselves to make it happen, their life should be at risk.  But even if the person is cleared before their execution, there are cases where I think that the death penalty should still apply.

The next question is “What methods of execution should be used.”  My answers were “Hanging (Long/Measured Drop),” “Electrocution (Electric Chair),” and “Lethal Injection.”  These are the three methods that, at least if properly done and not interfered with by outside agencies, should lead to rapid unconsciousness.

The next question is “Should a person facing execution have the option to choose the method of their execution?”  I answered “yes.”  It makes sense to give the condemned at least that much control.

The next question is “Please order the factors below related to selecting a method of execution (either as the state or as the person facing execution).”  I ordered them “Sure to kill,” “Provide a deterrent beyond that of the death penalty itself,” “Limit Suffering,” “Limit time spent in restraint,” and “Limit discomfort of the witnesses.”  The first two are clearly the most important.  A method of execution that might not kill is of no use.  Both the noose and the chair have been symbols of what faces criminals, which enhances their effectiveness.  The next two are because the sentence is death, not torturous death.  While not making the witnesses uncomfortable is admirable, there is some value in discomfort to the witnesses as well.

The next question is “Please rank the methods of execution based on how much you perceive the person being executed suffers DURING the execution.”  I ranked the methods: Lethal Injection, Hanging (Long/Measured Drop), Electrocution, Lethal Gas (Gas Chamber), Hanging (Short Drop), Beheading.  The first three are pretty much going to leave the condemned unconscious very quickly.  The gas chamber is going to leave the condemned conscious for some time, and requires that they take positive action in an attempt to speed it up, but there will be pain and suffering.  Short Drop hanging is another form of slow strangulation, prolonging the time of consciousness.  While it seems that beheading should also be quick, I just cannot imagine that that blade passing through the neck isn’t painful.

The next question is “Please rank the methods based on how much you think that the person being executed will suffer BEFORE the execution. Consider things like time in restraint, what happens to them to get ready to be executed, etc.”  I’ll admit some of my personal biases are here, but I am the one answering. My ordering was Lethal Injection, Beheading, Hanging (short drop), Lethal Gas, Electrocution, Hanging (Long/Measured Drop).  In lethal injection, the condemned is, as I understand it, usually restrained before any attempts are made to get the IVs going.  I know how hard it can be to get an IV going when I’m able to move and corporate – and having it happen with me restrained would be worse.  On top of that, my understanding is that lethal injection has one of the longest potential times in restraint, which could be more stressful for me than the fact I was about to die.  The next three are beheading, hanging with a short drop, and lethal gas. I cannot imagine how stressful it would be to be facing those deaths.  The Electric Chair would require a bit more preparation (shaving head, leg) and time in restraint, thus making it worse than a properly done hanging.

The next question is “Please rank the methods of execution based on how uncomfortable they will be to witness.”  I put Lethal Injection, Hanging (long/measured), Electrocution, Hanging (short), Lethal Gas, Beheading.  Lethal Injection looks clean and clinical – especially if the witnesses only see the actual execution.  A measured drop hanging should appear to be a few second affair – even though the actual death can take 20-30 minutes.  Both the electric chair and the short drop will provide some noticeable time when the contemned is, or could be, suffering.  The gas chamber is as brutal to watch as it is to die in – maybe worse; and beheading is a bloody affair.

The next question is “Should executions be:” I answered both “Private with limited witnesses,” and “Filmed and kept in libraries.”  Public or televised executions become spectacle, and allowing the news to show it on tape delay isn’t much better.  But, having access to real executions would both enhance the deterrent and provide reference for research.  Admittedly, if this was the policy in the US, I’d have probably found one of the libraries that had these films and watched a few – but that too seems reasonable and not pushing into spectacle.

The next question is “What should be the youngest age at which a person should be eligible for a death sentence?”  O answered 16.  Some of it is a reaction to this time and place where kids are committing crimes as much or more than adults. I know that at 16 teenagers are fully responsible – but if they choose to commit an adult crime, at least some of them need to suffer the maximum punishment.

The next four questions involve the situation where I committed a crime carrying a mandatory death penalty, and then a discretionary death penalty.  In both cases I answered that I would turn myself in, after securing council, and plead guilty.  In the case of the discretionary death penalty, I would ask to be sentenced to death.  In both cases I’d allow only automatic appeals.

After that, the next question is “Give a choice of all of the methods of execution below, rank your choices.”  My ranking was Hanging (long drop), Lethal Injection, Electrocution, Lethal Gas, Hanging (short drop), Beheading.  A proper hanging minimizes the suffering both before and during execution, and the next two at least minimize it during the execution.  Of the other three, lethal gas ranks just slightly higher than a short drop hanging since I think it could be less painful or quicker.  Beheading just seems horrible to consider from any angle.

The last question (except for the one for opponents) is “What scares you most about your upcoming execution:”  My ranking was “Pain and discomfort while restrained prior to the execution,” followed by “The pain and discomfort caused by the execution itself.”  I expect to spend longer time conscious before than during the execution.  The next one is “The fact that you’re about to die,” and the last is “What will happen after death.”  My faith may partially explain that, but I think the reality of death is really what most people are scared of, not beyond.