Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Quote of the Day...

“Prison and the juvenile system, they don’t teach you how to be a man. They teach you how to keep reoffending.” -- Delcarlos Johnnie Jacobs, 22.

Jacobs -- who "has been incarcerated for much of his life" and whose father is currently incarcerated -- was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for myriad charges stemming from an incident with the police SWAT team. From the Examiner:

Police allege that Jacobs provoked the SWAT team to fire at him 29 times at 11:30 p.m. Feb. 1, 2006, by raising a rifle he was holding at the officers and firing it — a claim Jacobs has repeatedly denied.

The officers were at his Columbia home to serve a warrant for burglary, they said.

Jacobs’ attorneys said the officers’ stories are unbelievable because no bullet nor shell from Jacobs’ gun was found.

Regardless of whether he actually fired the gun, resisting arrest with a weapon in hand was certainly not the best way to handle the situation.

Is his above statement relevant to how conducted himself when confronted by police, how he got in that predicament in the first place (burglary), or both?

Or, did he just use his courtroom soapbox to take another shot at the justice system?


numbers.girl said...

Did you catch the part about him dodging the 29 rounds? I thought that only happened in really bad movies.

pzguru said...

I think it is very telling that a convicted criminal made the statement that he did. It shows just badly the system needs to be made tougher. Yet, instead, we have a misguided legislature and governor aiming to abolish the death penalty - sending yet another signal to criminals that Maryland is soft on crime.

I recently emailed a letter to every member of the Sate House and Senate, asking them to consider an alternative to eliminating the death penalty. My recommendation is that the State create a board, similar to a Parole Board or Grand Jury, that would review cases and decide who should face the death penalty. That should alleviate criticisms of racism (which I believe are bogus anyway,but..) and it would allow that penalty to still be available in cases that are more clear cut, or where the crime is particularly heinous (think of the sniper spree a few years back or the black family that was burned in Baltimore even more recently).

I urge anyone who supports the death penalty to contact their rep/senator and get them to vote against the legislation.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Pzguru- In the past you have made various pro-life arguments on another blog against abortion. How you reconcile your anti-abortion position with your position on capital punishment?

pzguru said...

Funny, I can not ever recall having previously posted a comment about abortion.

However, I'll entertain your question. The answer is very simple. An abortion ends the life of human being that committed no crime. The death penalty is assigned to human beings that have committed terrible crimes. See the difference now?

Anonymous said...

So, a life is not a life according to this argument. An accused criminal's life is worth less.

That argument also promotes human judgement reserved for the higher power.

pzguru said...

Wrong. It means that when you take someone else's life, you should forfeit yours. Trying to say that you can't be anti-abortion and pro-death penalty is just misguided - and a totally wrong analogy. You're comparing apples and oranges.

FreeMarket said...

I agree with PZG that the death penalty and abortion are apples and oranges, but not for the reasons he states. A fetus is not a person, so abortion does not kill anyone. I am for the death penalty, I think it’s a hell of a good deterrent.

numbers.girl said...

Misguided? Interesting choice of words.

Why is murder the only crime for which revenge is allowed? That's what it is, after all, revenge. Why can we not exact revenge on the rapists and thiefs of the world as well? And aggressive drivers and people who victimize the poor?

As for whether or not it is a deterrent, I'd like to see some statistical analysis on that, Freemarket. I'm not doubting, at this point, the veracity of the statement, but until I see substantiation, I reserve judgment.

FreeMarket said...

Familiar phrases are often used. I like to pretend, so I will just play along. I take it a priori that the DP is an effective deterrent (at least for premeditated crimes, probably not for crimes of passion), but if there is evidence that it is not, I would no longer support it. Admittedly, the DP does have a revenge element to it.

Hayduke said...

Death Penalty is Not a Deterrent. The link's from Amnesty International, so take it with a grain of salt.

A simple Google search of ""death penalty; deterrent"" yields numerous pages from similarly biased sources (on both sides), though more of the actual research seems to line up behind Amnesty. Read through it and draw your own conclusions.

numbers.girl said...

I have to wonder how many people, before deciding to kill someone, say "hmmmm, my state has the death penalty, I'm screwed if I get caught."

We are talking about people who act out of impulse and therefore don't have time to weigh the outcome of the crime, who are pure evil and don't care about the outcome of their crime, or who have nothing to lose anyway. Plus others, of course.

Can anyone explain how the death penalty would act as a deterrent for murderers? Speeders, shoplifters, bad tippers, maybe. But are murderers really the type of people to weigh their options?

FreeMarket said...

This discussion reminds me of a movie I saw called ”The Life of David Gale” that rattled my stance on the DP a few years ago. Have you seen it PZG? I’d be interested in what you thought about it.

pzguru said...

I have not seen it, but I have heard of it, although vaguely.

If you want "evidence" of a punishment = deterrent factor, look at countries that punish thieves by cutting off their hands. Cruel some say, but those countries don't have much of a theft problem now do they?

I disagree with Numbersgirl who says that the DP is revenge. Not so. Revenge is if the victim's family kills the suspect before a trial/conviction occurs. The DP is metted out by a judge and/or jury, so that is different. By Numbersgirls argument, any punishment is a form of revenge. How about if we just ask the criminals to say they're sorry (unless that's considered cruel and unusual too) and we can let them go free.

Here's an analogy. Look at drunk driving. Why is there so much of it? Because the punishment for killing someone while DWI is pathetic - maybe 6-10 years, if that. Many get off very lightly or get a few years of probation. Now, what if the punishment was 20 years in prison? Don't you think people would wake up a bit and the incidents of DWI deaths would decrease? We probably won't ever know, because MD will never get that tough on drunk drivers.

I also believe the DP should be considered for crimes other than murder, like rape, child molestation, setting people on fire, and other serious crimes. The DP will be a better deterrent when it is applied swifter and more often. Then criminals might actually take the justice system seriously.

Anonymous said...

"The DP will be a better deterrent when it is applied swifter and more often"

Seeing the phrases death penalty and swift put together should set off alarms in all of our minds.

Our justice system is not perfect. I'll repeat that for you - our justice system is not perfect. Innocent people have been executed repeatedly. Some innocent people were luckily exonerated while on death row. It is abhorrent to have a "justice system" that occasionally commits the greatest injustice of all, depriving an innocent person of their every right, by extinguishing their right to life.

If you're looking for better deterrents to serious crimes, there are far more effective solutions than continuing a barbaric fallible practice that only continues in a very few countries. If you check the list of the other countries, you won't find it terribly flattering.

And there are many other countries without death penalties that are far more effective at deterring crime. Why do you think that is?

numbers.girl said...

I'd hardly call life in prison the equivalent of asking criminals to say their sorry and being set free.

Other countries also meter out their punishment in public arenas. Like the Taliban did. Why not take that approach?

Anonymous said...

Let's not lose our heads over this. Let all of them free, during rush hour traffic.

pzguru said...


Which other countries, and what are their methods for deterrent?

Also, please keep things in context. In my first comment, I said that a panel should be enacted to determine which cases are CLEAR CUT and which might not be, to help decide which ones should be elligible for the DP. In THOSE cases, the DP could certainly be carried out swiftly without fear of executing an innocent person.

"Innocent people have been executed repeatedly". HUH? Where are you getting your information from.

I understand that there have been some high profile cases where DNA evidence has exonerated a convicted person. However, those cases tended to be older cases, when DNA evidence was in its infancy, compared to now when it has become much more refined and exact. Hence, the chance of a wrongful conviction is LESS now than ever before.

The system is not perfect. True. And what about the guilty people who are wrongfully acquitted? What if those people go on to kill somebody else? Isn't that a good rationale to do away with "double jeopardy" laws? If new evidence comes up, shouldn't the person be tried again? Right now the system is tilted so far in favor of criminals that its laughable. Vague interpretations by courts on how and when miranda rights need to be read. Constant public mistrust and uncooperation with police.

And, what if we do decide to only give life in prison? With over 300 murders in Baltimore City alone, each year, how many more prisons will need to be built over the next 40 years, or 60 years? Part of the reason why prisons are so overcrowded is that there are too many criminals. And nobody wants to build more prisons, so they let violent criminals out even earlier to make room for new criminals. So there is no fear of long term incarceration for most criminals. They bide their time, get out of prison, and continue their criminal ways. Is that a system worth celebrating just because it appears to be "kinder"?

The problem in countries like Iraq where beheadings would occur is that the punishment might be for committing adultery (look out Bill Clinton) AND there is rampant corruption among the state influenced judges such that there is a high possibility of executing an innocent person. In the US, with judges and juries, and defense lawyers abounding, those same arguments do not apply.

Think about the old west. Horse thieves got tried, sentenced, then hanged. No endless appeals. Parents brought their children to the hangings to show them what would happen to law breakers. If you don't think that was example enough to set most kids straight, nothing would. Nowadays, you can rob a bank, shoot three tellers, assault an old lady, shoot a dog, steal a car, shoot at police officers, then get a good defense attorney to get you off on a technicality. Now that's justice!

Maybe I'm off base thinking people obeyed the law better back then than now, but...

Anonymous said...