1. poptarts
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    poptarts Member

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    would you write a letter to a serial killer on death row?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by poptarts, Mar 5, 2011.

    i just found out that there's this person who's still sitting in prison in the state i live in after being convicted in 1999, and he will probably be executed within the next two years. he's been given a homepage and an address where compassionate people could write to him.

    i'm familiar with his story and i know that he tortured/killed several women, and i have no intention of feeling sorry for him. yet i've been having a morbid urge to write to him and just learn more about the way his mind works. at the same, though, i'm terrified of the things he might put in his letter to me if i decided to write him. and on some level, the thought of touching a letter that has been written by a hand that has murdered other human beings disgusts me.

    would YOU consider writing a letter to a serial killer?
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, never. I wouldn't want to fill my mind with the imaginings of what he has done or might want to do if he were out of prison. Also, I wouldn't want to waste taxpayers' money on the paper and stamps he would be supplied with in order to correspond with me.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    No. Never. I don't need someone like that in my life. If you are interested in serial killers, and what made them there is a wealth of literature on people like Ed Gein, Jeffery Dahmer and the like.

    Also, I've been on a tour of a mental institution. I've seen all the crazy I ever want to see.
     
  4. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I would write a letter to somebody in prison I would write to someone in jail for some more common, "boring" crime, someone who has a life ahead of them and a chance of rehabilitation.
     
  5. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    i might...but i truly doubt that the response would give me anything in the way of a glimpse into their mind...
     
  6. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    It really all depends on your reasons for wanting to communicate with him. At the end of the day, he's a fellow human being, and if he wishes to be communicated with in this final chapter of his life, and you want to do it, then I see no problem. Having said that, I don't feel that a "morbid urge" is a particularly clever reason for contact.

    It's not inevitable that a murderer on Death Row will have an interesting story to tell, but equally it's not inevitable that he'll introduce any unpleasantness into your life, just because at some point in the distant past he has been in a situation where he has taken the lives of other human beings.

    Some people have committed murders of such atrocity that it can be very difficult to spare any sympathy for them, but I am a vehement opponent of capital punishment, believing as I do that it is always wrong to take the life of another human being where a credible alternative exists. Indeed, the USA stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the world's pariah states in still cold-bloodedly executing criminals (China, N.Korea, Iraq, Iran), and it's a practice which, IMO, has no place in a civilized 21st Century society.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    People say this all the time when the Capital Punishment issue comes knocking, I used to say it a lot myself but I no longer understand: what's so special about the 21st century?
     
  8. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on whether I thought he was innocent or not...!

    Like Halcyon, I am staunchly against the death penalty in any circumstances. How can you teach children that an eye for an eye is makes the world go blind when the state sanctions it?

    (Some Gandhi there, did you notice ;))
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I must admit. I used to be very much against capital punishment, but now I'm beginning to swing to the other side.
     
  10. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's interesting Lemex. I usually see people go from pro to against. Any idea why you feel that way? They do say people become a bit more conservative as they get older.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    For me it's got nothing to do with any conservative views I may have - if anything I'd say my politics are just left of center.

    One reason I'm swinging away from the Against is that phrase that is repeated over and over to the effect of: 'Stuff like that should not happen in this day an age/civilized 21st century' is actually pretty meaningless - it's marking this century out as somehow special; we still have wars, and genocides. It's not pleasant, but it happens. Humanity is still a pretty simple, violent creature despite what we may like to think.

    I Just find it rather arrogant to suppose; and it's not just said in a debate on capital punishment either. Some of my more radially atheist, Dawkins-quoting friends say the exact same thing about religion.

    Another reason is, yes, murderers and serial killers are human beings, and I have some form of pity for them, but they are still very very dangerous to society.
     
  12. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see your point. I think when people say "in this day and age" it's because there's an expectation of progress and it's exactly because of wars and genocide that we need to keep progressing.

    It also means "they used to chop people's hands of for theft" or "women were denied the vote way back when." Some people, myself included, thinks "the state used to kill people" should be consigned to history. I understand when it comes to serial killers and paedophiles, that view is severely tested. I still have it though.
     
  13. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, that's easily remedied. It had no place in the 20th Century either. Indeed, I was a letter-writing campaigner for Amnesty International in the 1990s, and expressed my opposition to the death penalty in communication with the representatives of many countries.

    Capital punishment has always been wrong, but it becomes even less defensible with the passage of time and the growth and appreciation of human rights, particularly regarding the rights of the individual in being protected from the State.
     
  14. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow, there's something I didn't know. Working for Amnesty International would be my dream job.
     
  15. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well... There is a lot of research done about death penalty and scientifically speaking:
    ¨
    Death penalty isn't cheaper then prison.
    Death penalty don't make society safer. It don't make crime rated go down.
    Death penalty don't give the family closure or comfort, they generally feel worse then if the perpetrator lives.

    If there isn't any good arguments or effects death that can be documented objectively, I don't see why anyone would defend death penalty.
     
  16. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    The academic discourse is that punishment should only be used if it has a deterrent effect. Unfortunately, not many punishments do. There's no evidence that capital punishment has a general deterrent effect. It's a minefield but I do think low conviction rates have a bolstering effect for criminals - like if the conviction for rape is 3% (like in Scotland) instead of 90% (not that it ever would be), there's really a negligible chance of being caught.
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    'It had no place' what does that mean? And of course it had a place, it happened, so it has a place in the history of the 20th century. It still happens in the 21st century too. So it has a place, regardless of whether it being morally acceptable or not. I'm really trying to understand what you mean by this 'it has to place'.

    It has, has it? I bet the Romans, or Alexander the Great cried themselves to sleep at night sometimes.

    Maybe the zeitgeist changes, that I can see. You have a human right not to be murdered by a mugger, yet it happens. Human rights in some places are literally meaningless.

    I'm not saying I'm a big supporter of Capital Punishment, I'm not even really a supporter, but I'm beginning to think in some extreme cases, it has merit as an alternative.
     
  18. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lemex, universal human rights are to protect the individual from the state. They shouldn't be disapplied just because you don't like someone or what they did.

    In your mugger example, nobody can stop an individual killing another individual. It doesn't mean the state must also murder people.
     
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  19. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A quick search on "death penalty deterrence statistics" seems to indicate that even if there is a academic discourse of death penalty has a deterrent effect, the majority of the studies seem to indicate that it don't or that the effect is neglect-able.
     
  20. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    But what is a 'state'? Anthropologically speaking it's society. A human society is going to reflect the morality and mindsets of the prominent people in that society.


    I know, I've heard that too. It's weird isn't it.

    And anyway:

    This I'm going to have to look up. I'm not sure why this should be. It would be really interesting to find out.
     
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  21. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on your expectation of what a nation state is for. I don't want my country to descend to killing citizens. If it does it's no better than the mugger on the street who stabs someone to get their handbag.
     
  22. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well. That statistic was meant for a state with a modern working legal system, with human rights and so on not the sort of nation where you shoot people behind the chemical shed.

    If I remember correctly it was that death penalty created this huge overhead cost of administration, legal cost, health cost, the cost for already spending years and years in prisons etc.
     
  23. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    To me a government should act in the best interests of the many. If it's more expensive to kill murders than simply jail them for life - something I can't work out why that would be, but regardless - then I suppose the slight vibration of my attitudes would go straight back to completely opposed.

    Actually. Legal costs were never something I considered. Very good point.

    [Edit]

    In fact. The more I think about it, the higher potential legal costs seem to be able of climbing. I think you've just won this debate. I'm convinced.
     
  24. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would personally be loathe to say yes or no to the death penalty on the grounds of cost. Essentially, I simply have a respect for the sanctity of human life. Once created, I feel strongly that it should never be ended against the will of the individual concerned if an alternative exists.

    Capital punishment seems to exist mainly in states where a god-based religion has a powerful hold. It's almost as if these societies feel justified in sending the perpetrator to be dealt with by some higher power. Happily, I'm unencumbered by religious beliefs.
     
  25. Sabreur
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    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

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    I support the death of those who have wronged me. My right to vengeance is greater than their right to live.

    ^Death penalty in a nutshell. Do I agree with it? Well, maybe...
     

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