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Topics - Henrik - Sweden

The noose was already around his neck... You can't come much closer than that:

From The Guardian:

Iranian killer's execution halted at last minute by victim's parents
Convict had noose around his neck when victim's mother approached, slapped him in the face and spared his life

When he felt the noose around his neck, Balal must have thought he was about to take his last breath. Minutes earlier, crowds had watched as guards pushed him towards the gallows for what was meant to be yet another public execution in the Islamic republic of Iran.

Seven years ago Balal, who is in his 20s, stabbed 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh during a street brawl in the small town of Royan, in the northern province of Mazandaran. In a literal application of qisas, the sharia law of retribution, the victim's family were to participate in Balal's punishment by pushing the chair on which he stood.

But what happened next marked a rarity in public executions in Iran, which puts more people to death than any other country apart from China. The victim's mother approached, slapped the convict in the face and then decided to forgive her son's killer. The victim's father removed the noose and Balal's life was spared.

Photographs taken by Arash Khamooshi, of the semi-official Isna news agency, show what followed. Balal's mother hugged the grieving mother of the man her son had killed. The two women sobbed in each other's arms - one because she had lost her son, the other because hers had been saved.

The action by Hosseinzadeh's mother was all the more extraordinary as it emerged that this was not the first son she had lost. Her younger child Amirhossein was killed in a motorbike accident at the age of 11.

"My 18-year-old son Abdollah was taking a stroll in the bazaar with his friends when Balal shoved him," said the victim's father, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, according to Isna. "Abdollah was offended and kicked him but at this time the murderer took an ordinary kitchen knife out of his socks."

Hosseinzadeh Sr has come to the conclusion that Balal did not kill his son deliberately. "Balal was inexperienced and didn't know how to handle a knife. He was naive."

According to the father, Balal escaped the scene of the stabbing but was later arrested by the police. It took six years for a court to hand down a death sentence, and the victim's family deferred the execution a number of times. A date for execution was set just before the Persian new year, Nowruz, but the victim's family did not approve of the timing.

Hosseinzadeh said a dream prompted the change of heart. "Three days ago my wife saw my elder son in a dream telling her that they are in a good place, and for her not to retaliate ... This calmed my wife and we decided to think more until the day of the execution."

Many Iranian public figures, including the popular TV sport presenter Adel Ferdosipour, had called on the couple, who have a daughter, to forgive the killer. Although they did so, Balal will not necessarily be freed. Under Iranian law the victim's family have a say only in the act of execution, not any jail sentence.

In recent years Iran has faced criticism from human rights activists for its high rate of executions. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, accused Hassan Rouhani of doing too little to improve Iran's human rights, especially reining in its staggering use of capital punishment.

As of last week, 199 executions are believed to have been carried out in Iran this year, according to Amnesty, a rate of almost two a day. Last year Iran and Iraq were responsible for two-thirds of the world's executions, excluding China.

At least 369 executions were officially acknowledged by the Iranian authorities in 2013, but Amnesty said hundreds more people were put to death in secret, taking the actual number close to 700.

Iran is particularly criticised for its public executions, which have attracted children among the crowds in the past. Iranian photographers are often allowed to document them.

Bahareh Davis, of Amnesty International, welcomed the news that Balal had been spared death. "It is of course welcome news that the family of the victim have spared this young man's life," she said. "However, qisas regulations in Iran mean that people who are sentenced to death under this system of punishment are effectively prevented from seeking a pardon or commutation of their sentences from the authorities - contrary to Iran's international obligations."

She added: "It's deeply disturbing that the death penalty continues to be seen as a solution to crime in Iran. Not only is the death penalty the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment with no special deterrent impact, but public displays of killing also perpetuate a culture of acceptance of violence.

"Public executions are degrading and incompatible with human dignity of those executed. In addition, all those who watch public executions - which regrettably often includes children - are brutalised by the experience."

In October last year an Iranian prisoner who survived an attempted execution and was revived in the morgue was spared another attempt, though his family said he had lost mental stability and remained in jail.

(google "balal public execution" for more interesting photos)
It seems we all missed a court decision in the autumn of 2012 that with just one stroke of a pen removed one of Texas longest serving DR inmates from DR.

Pierce - now 53 years old - was just 18 when he murdered a restaurang manager during a robbery. He had been on DR since 1978. While on DR he also murdered another inmate over 30 years ago - allegedly in self defence.

Pierce made a plea agreement that got him a life sentence and also made him eligible for parole in the future.

After the removal of mr Pierce there are now 5 inmates left on Texas DR with sentences that dates back to the 1970ies:

- #541 Raymond Riles (born 1950 on DR since 1976)
- #577 Harvey Earvin (born 1958 on DR since 1977)
- #609 Clarence Jordan (born 1956 on DR since 1978)
- #615 Jack Smith (born 1937 on DR since 1978)
- #636 Arturo Aranda (bornd 1948 on DR since 1979)

additionally there are 3 more offenders that have been on DR for 30 years or more and another 11 that have been there for 25 years or more.
John Selvage - on DR since 1980 for the murder of a police officer - died the 2nd of November.

Appartently it seems he was held on the psychiatric unit Jester IV since 2010.

Article at
A US Government mental hospital is seeking to eventually set free John Hinckley Jr, the man who tried to assassinate ex-president Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Hinckley, now 56, was committed to St Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington in 1982 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shock shooting of Reagan and three others, including Reagan's press secretary James Brady.

Prosecutors asked a closed court on Friday not to release him, CNN reported on its website today.

In their filing, they called Hinckley "a man capable of great violence" and said his mental condition left some concerns "that this violence may be repeated," the report said.

The hospital wants Hinckley to be able to live near his 85-year-old mother in Virginia.

Hospital lawyers and doctors filed a motion under seal at the end of July asking that Hinckley eventually be placed on "convalescent leave," but prosecutors quoted it in their own filing, making it part of the public record.

US District Judge Paul Friedman had scheduled up to a week of court hearings on the issue to start November 28.

Hinckley, a college dropout, waited for Reagan to walk out of a Washington hotel where he had given a speech on March 31, 1981.

Hinckley fired his six-shot .22 revolver at the then-US president. Reagan was seriously wounded but recovered.

Brady suffered a serious brain injury and never was able to return to his White House duties. Wheelchair-bound for the last three decades, he is now an advocate for gun control in the US.

Another article from earlier this year from CNN:
This information was new to me when I found it by coincidence today. I was under the impression that all male DR offenders regardless of their mental state was housed at Polunsky unit, but apparently that is not the case.

This link provides information which may not be completely up-to-date, but probably is correct in most cases. It seems like a couple of inmates are housed (permanently or at least for a long period I guess?) on the psychiatric unit Jester IV. Those inmates are:

#541 Raymond Riles (His mental issues are well known and have been discussed in a couple of topics here. Is ruled ineligible for execution since the late 1980ies)
#652 John Henry Selvage (No information)
#868 Nelson Mooney (No information)
#910 Syed Rabbani (From what I've heard he has been very ill for many years)
#999006 Steven Kenneth Staley (Recently had his execution stayed due to issues regarding his mental state)
#999290 Ignacio Gomez (No information)
#999493 Andre Thomas (The man who cut out both his eyes at separate occasions. Long history of serious mental issues both before and after he murdered 3 family members)
#999498 Moises Mendoza (No information but it seems he was transfered to Jester IV only a couple of months after his death sentence. On DR for the murder of a 20 year old woman)
#999524 Christoper Jackson (No information, seems he was transfered directly to Jester IV)

One woman is not housed on the Mountain view unit:
#999329 Suzanne Basso (Housed on Estelle unit. The reason for that is unknown to me)

Anyone who have access to more information? I know there are other persons on Texas DR that are ruled ineligible for execution but as it seems are housed on Polunsky anyway.
Today - the 23th of november - exactly 100 years have passed since the last execution in Sweden. The offender - Alfred Johan Ander - was decapitated by guillotine at the central prison of Långholmen in Stockholm.

Ander was a 36 year old waiter with money problems. At the time of the crime he had 3 earlier sentences for theft. The 5th of January 1910 he entered an exchange office and robbed it. During the process he beat a clerk - a woman named Victoria Hellsten - so severly that she later died. He was later captured and the police found a couple of evidence that linked him to the crime. He was sentenced to death the 19th of May. Neither his appeals nor a request for clemency to the king of Sweden were successful.  In the morning of the 23th of November he was strapped and placed in the guillotine on the prison yard. Exactly 08.06 he was executed. Ander never admitted the crime but there is no doubt that he was the right person.

Ander was the first person to be executed in Sweden for 9 years. In the upcoming 10 years a couple of other persons received death sentences, but all had their sentences commuted or - in one case - commited suicide while incarcerated.

In 1921 the death sentence was abolished during peace time in Sweden. In 1976 it was also abolished in war (it was never used during ww2 though)

As late as 1989 the last person to have received a death sentence in Sweden finally died, over 100 years of age.

The other nordic countries have a similar history, with Finland as a notable exception. During the civil war in Finland 1918 approximately 10000 persons on both sides ("the reds" and "the whites") were executed. During  WW2 about 500 persons (mostly Soviet spies) met the same fate. Finland abolished the DP in 1949.
It was the 30th of March 2005 in Gävle - a city with about 100 000 habitants about 20 miles north of Stockholm. The local police recieved received an emergency call from a young man that his girlfriend was stabbed to death with a knife. Policemen and an ambulance arrived to the apartment soon and found out that it was true. The young girl - only 19 and the mother of a 3 month old baby - was brutally stabbed in her chest.

The young man - his name was Tommie - was taken to the police station for questioning. He wasn't a known criminal but he was unemployed and he didn't look like what we in Sweden call a "svärmorsdröm" (the perfect son-in-law). He told the police that he had woke up in the middle of the night when his girlfriend and mother of his child screamed loudly. He rushed into the kitchen. There he saw a complete stranger - a man with a checkered shirt - who stood over the body of his girlfriend with a bloody knife in his hand. Tommie panicked and run out of the apartment, downstairs to another apartment where his father lived. From there he phoned the police. Upon returning to the apartment the stranger had disappeared.

The police didn't believe his story. They had already examined the apartment and found no significant signs of burglary. Tommie was arrested. The police started questioning neighbours but no one reported that they had seen a man with a checkered shirt running away that night.

A long series of questioning in jail now started. The interrogations was held by two policemen who over and over again asked him to tell his story and then started to challenge what he just told them. They told him that he was the murderer and that he should confess.

This continued for about 2 months. Then a DNA-test finally was completed. The police investigators had found blood on the crime scene that didn't came from the victim. Now results showed that the blood didn't came from Tommie either.

Tommie was released from jail. He didn't get any excuses and he still wasn't excluded from the murder investigation. During the middle time his girlfriend had been buried and his son had been placed in foster care and he wasn't allowed to see him. Many people still saw him as a prime suspect.

Another 5 months went by. Then another young woman was brutally murdered in a similar way in a village not far from Gävle. She didn't have any known connections to Tommie. But as the investigation looked into her background they found something of great interest: The second woman and Tommie's murdered girlfriend had been placed in the same foster family, though at different times. What about this family? The police soon found out that the foster parents had a grown up son that lived in a small cottage by his own on their property. He had a history of long, psychiatric problems including delusions of various kind.

The son was taking in for questioning and DNA-samples were taken. It didn't take long for the police to reveal the horrifying truth: Though he didn't had any contact with the two young women anymore he had stalked them and finally he broke into their apartments and killed them. The second victim was stabbed 64 times and the offender - a 29-year old man named Lennart Persson - told the police that he had felt a desire to drink her blood. Psychiatric examination showed that he was seriously mentally disturbed and he was sentenced to incarceration at a mental institution.

So finally Tommie was exonerated. But his loss and his grief was still left. He told a newspaper that he almost lost his grasp on reality during the months in jail. He began to think that he perhaps was in fact mentally disturbed like the policemen told him and that he was "blocking out" the murder of his girlfriend. At some times he nearly confessed. To a crime he was completely innocent of. And even after his exoneration he had to struggle over a year before he finally regained complete custody over his daughter.

So what was my purpose with this story? Perhaps that unlikely stories of "intruders" not necessarily always are lies. That even the most likely and reasonable suspect not always are the actual offender. That even persons who appears to be "scumbags" sometimes can be completely innocent of what they are accused for. That with this in mind I would require absolutely bullet-proof evidence before allowing an execution even if I in fact was a pro. Because an execution like you pros like to state yourselves so much is an irreversible procedure. Sure the executed murderers can't come back to murder again. But the perhaps innocent can't come back to be exonerated either.

What if Tommie had been a Texan and the DNA on the crime scene hadn't been tested for some reason? (like in Hank Skinner's case) What if the police during trial had presented some other offender who told the court that Tommie had "confessed the crime" to him (How come I never heard of any such case in my own country)? What if the second murder hadn't occurred? Can you honestly and sincerely say that he would have succeed in having his verdict tossed out once he was sentenced?

Tommie - accused of a crime he didn't commit or took any part in.

The real murderer - Lennart Persson. Based on some similar offenders and cases my guess is that he will remain incarcerated for the rest of life

Well folks... I'm not around here as often as I used to be and I post even less. It seems I've run out of inspiration in my mission to convert you into nice little antis  ;)
Seriously: It has been an interesting couple of years. I've lost some of my interest i participating in discussions and perhaps also think the number of interesting topics have declined. But my years in this community definately have both broadened and deepened my views regarding the death penalty. Some of my arguments and views seems less convincing today even to myself. On the other hand some have been strengthened. I'm not gonna bore you with them, but one that seems of interest at the present time of the year is that the DP is of far more harm to the good society and its inhabitants than it is for the few that are directly struck by it. I wish I could believe that it heals more than it hurts since it is a reality that I cannot affect. But I believe that it often just creates more hate, fear and bitterness. And it's not a good thing to let your soul be filled up with this kind of emotions.

I'm not religious but I wish that each and everyone here can let the spirit of Christmas fill their hearts for at least a couple of days and - if only temporarily - remove the "scumbags" and the rants against them from their minds. And that also goes for dark thoughts regarding the future of your land. I don't believe for a second that terrorists will kill us all, that the islamists will "take over" our western countries or that we're marching against the destruction. There is always good things in life, at least as long as your relatively healthy and not facing the risk of starvation. My thoughts here goes especially to GoB: I'm sure that all your grandchildren will grow up to a country that is still good to live in. It might not be the same country as today. But thing's change and even if we sometimes think they change for the worst we'll often find that we can live with it after some time and that our darkest thoughts seldom or never become reality.

In this spirit I would like to share some songs with you -  mostly Christmas tunes from Sweden. They are probably unfamiliar to you and may therefore not affect you in the same way as they affect me. But as I believe they are beautiful songs - here they are!

This is one of my absolute favourites. It's also a good example of the rich Swedish choir tradition - with almost 10% of the population participating in various choirs

Next is an example of the odd tradition of "Lucia" in Sweden dating back to the middle ages. On the 13th of december children and youth dressed in white clothing sing old songs, many of them about the saint Lucia. This youngsters are from a very well renowned school for musically gifted children in Stockholm. A friend who went to this school sang at the baptizing cermonies of my children and her singing sure can bring yout to tears :-)

Speaking of tear this Swedish singer really has a voice that can bring them to your eyes in this wonderful piece of muisc: ("Jul" is Christmas in Swedish)

This one may not be as "easy" to listen to but it is a song that I have become to love more and ore over the years. It was compoesd by Jean Sibelius (a Swedish speaking finn regarded as one of the greaest composers of the 20th century

Finally: This song is not a Swedish or even a Scandinavian one. But it is performed by the great Jussi Björling still nearly 50 years after his early death widely regarded as one of the greatest tenors of all times. He was especially popular in the US during the 40ies and 50ies

So: with this songs greetings from me and from a wintry Stockholm


Site Support / Unread topics-function out of order for me
December 22, 2008, 09:12:02 AM
Since a couple days back this function doesn't seem to work for me anymore. Everytime I enter the site, it tells me I have no unread topics since my last visit, even though there are a couple.
Found an article that might be of some interest, although it's 3 years old. It was written after gov. Perrys commutations of the DR offenders who were 17 at the time of the crime, but it's mostly about the men who were on DR when it was shut down back in the early 70ies:
Death row cons could be free someday

Recent court-ordered commutations may go way of '72's Furman 47

07:39 AM CDT on Tuesday, July 26, 2005

By DIANE JENNINGS / The Dallas Morning News

The notion that 28 Texas death row inmates might ever walk the streets seemed far-fetched last month when Gov. Rick Perry commuted their sentences to life in prison.

PAUL S. HOWELL/Special Contributor
'They'll have to do 40 [years], and after they do the 40, just as sure as the sun's coming up in the morning, they'll get out,' former death row inmate Calvin Sellars, part of 1972's mass commutation, said of inmates whose sentences were recently commuted.

But if history is any indication, most of them will indeed be freed one day.

Arthur Broussard was.

Mr. Broussard, 58, was part of the Furman 47, the last mass commutation of condemned Texas inmates. That was in 1972, after the Supreme Court decision Furman vs. Georgia, which halted the death penalty for four years.

Fourteen years after his commutation, Mr. Broussard was paroled. He had been condemned for killing a Houston grocery store clerk in 1969.

"I never thought I'd get out," he recalled in a telephone interview recently.

In fact, most of the Furman 47 were released. According to state prison records reviewed by The Dallas Morning News, 40 of the former death row inmates - 85 percent - have been released. Of the seven not released, two died in prison. Five others are still locked up.

At least two of the commuted inmates killed again, including Kenneth McDuff, who drew two more capital sentences in the 1990s for the murders of Melissa Ann Northrup and Colleen Reed. He was executed in 1998.

The collective fate of the Furman 47 contradicts the predictions of those who said inmates in the latest mass commutation probably would never again go free.

Mr. Perry had no choice but to commute the sentences after the Supreme Court ruled this year that the execution of offenders who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes violated constitutional protections against cruel or unusual punishment.

Most of the 28 men whose sentences were commuted recently were sentenced after the early 1990s, when a life term for capital crimes in Texas meant a minimum of 40 years. Texas added a life-without-parole sentence in the recent legislative session.

These inmates were 17 at the time of their crimes, so most will be in their 50s when they first become eligible for parole.

Some criminal justice experts doubt that succeeding generations will want to foot the bill to keep these men and thousands of other elderly prisoners behind bars that long. And, experts note, Texas prisons are nearly full again after a decade of tough-on-crime sentencing.

"It's going to be an issue for the Legislature and the parole board, 20, 30 years from now, what they want to do with these people" said Shannon Edmonds, staff attorney for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.

"But the reality is, those decisions are going to be guided more by the problems that those people are facing then, than what those people did back when they committed their offense," she said. "It's always been the way it's happened.

"I would probably expect at least some of them to be paroled."

Robert Black, spokesman for Mr. Perry said: "It's quite a stretch to try and predict what will happen 30 years from now, but in Texas we do have a system in place where the parole board will look at each case individually and make a recommendation. Gov. Perry has to put his faith in the system that's in place that it will work properly on behalf of the people of Texas."

New crimes

Of those who were part of the 1972 mass commutation, 22 committed new offenses. They range from minor infractions such as trespassing to major crimes such as murder.

The most notorious reoffender was Mr. McDuff. He's "the one that scares everybody," said James Marquart, a criminologist who studied the commuted inmates in the mid-1980s.

Another inmate killed his girlfriend and himself shortly after he was released in 1985, Dr. Marquart said. He could not identify the inmate, and no records reflecting that crime are available.

Of the 22 who reoffended, about two-thirds involved major felonies. Crimes committed in other states might not appear in state records.

According to state records, one former condemned inmate was eventually pardoned, and two had their cases dismissed.

"That's the thing with the death penalty," said Dr. Marquart of the widely varying outcomes. "You don't know."

About half of those paroled returned to prison, either for new convictions or technical violations of their parole, but many of them returned to quiet lives in the community.

Mr. Broussard, for instance, has met with his parole officer regularly for 19 years. He has, he said, done all right - even though he wasn't sure he would. When first told about his parole after more than 15 years of incarceration, "I didn't want to go," he said. "I didn't know nothing but the penitentiary."

Despite his trepidation, Mr. Broussard found work, got married, has not been in trouble with the law again and doesn't expect to be. He said he prays daily for forgiveness. Relatives of his victim could not be located.

Different laws

The sentencing laws under which Mr. Broussard and other inmates were imprisoned and released were far different from those now, even from when some of the current commutees were sentenced.

In the 1960s, a death sentence could be handed down not only for murder but for armed robbery or rape. But inmates could accrue "good time" - time off a sentence for good behavior - and if someone got life, it usually meant about 14 years behind bars. At some points in prison history, when overcrowding was an issue, a lifer could come up for parole after serving far less time.

Those commuted in 1972 spent an average of 10 additional years in prison. One got out six months later, when his case was overturned; that presumably could have happened even if he hadn't been commuted.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said experience dictates that some of the recently commuted inmates will be paroled eventually.

"It'll depend on the crime and it'll depend on the individual," he said, "but sure, some of them will be certainly eligible, and some will be paroled."

By the time they are paroled, however, they will be different people, he said, because of the difference between ages 17 and 57.

Former death row inmate Calvin Sellars agreed that age is a factor in how well an ex-con will do in the free world.

"Time takes care of everything," Mr. Sellars said. "They straighten up, not because of choice but because of age. Time - it takes a toll on you."

Mr. Sellars, 62, spent more than six years on death row. His cell was 12 feet from the electric chair, and he came within 18 hours of execution.

Six years after his sentence was commuted by the Furman decision, Mr. Sellars was released, not paroled. Representing himself, he convinced a federal judge in 1977 that he had been wrongly convicted on perjured police testimony. His case was dismissed.

Mr. Sellars, who now works as a legal investigator, said he was not surprised to learn that most of the men he knew on death row had been paroled.

"Time goes by, life goes on," he said, adding that the public eventually forgets even horrific crimes.

He expects those recently removed from death row to walk free in the future.

"They'll have to do 40 [years], and after they do the 40, just as sure as the sun's coming up in the morning, they'll get out," he said.

Mr. Sellars returned to prison for three years in the mid-1990s for carrying a prohibited weapon.

"You would have thought this guy would never get in trouble again," he mused. But, he said, he had a problem with alcohol and got into a confrontation at a bar while carrying a gun. He has quit drinking and hasn't had any other problems, and like Mr. Broussard, he doesn't expect to. Neither Mr. Broussard nor Mr. Sellars keeps in touch with fellow death row inmates.

For Mr. Broussard, who is still on parole, it's against the rules. But Mr. Sellars said he has no desire to see the rest of the Furman 47.

"No," he said, adding wryly that on death row, "there's no 'band of brothers.' "


A look at what happened to the 47 men whose death sentences were commuted to life terms when the U.S. Supreme Court abolished capital punishment in 1972.

40 were paroled or released

23 are alive today

22 have died

2 have undetermined fates

10 years served, on average, after commutation and before parole or release

18 of those released later had their parole revoked

22 of those released later had new convictions

9 of the convictions were for violent or sexual offenses*

*The nature of one new conviction couldn't be determined.
U.S. Death Penalty Discussion / Federal appeals
October 30, 2008, 04:55:55 PM
I realise I don't fully grasp your legal system yet. Maybe a few questions can help if anyone would be so kind to help me by answering them:

1) At what point in the appealing process does the case enter the federal level (Which state courts has it went through, what issues have been investigated)?

2) What courts are or can be involved on the federal level? I know of the circuit courts and SCOTUS, but are there more?

3) What issues can be adressed on the federal level? What can the federal courts do? Can they only send back cases to state courts or can they reverse whole verdicts f.e?

4) Does SCOTUS have any legal privilegies aside from being in the top of the food chain that other courts don't have?
Less than one year after a similar incident where 9 young pupils were killed in Jokela it has happened again:

We don't have much more information in our local scandinavian news sources yet, but it appears that a young man published pictures or some kind of a movie of himself exercising with a weapon only hours before the shooting occured.
I thought we could discuss the role as well as the behavior of the defense attorneys in the legal system (WHAT legal system isn't that important I think, even though they behavior may vary dependning on in what country and in what kind of legal tradition they are working). The reason for me bringing up this topic is that many of you seem to have a very negative attitude against the lawyers (ok, scumyers  :)) in capital cases. I'm interested in finding out what behavior and how much effort you can accept without morally condemn them. Or is it perhaps so that some of you don't accept the idea of defending a killer legally at all?

I think we all can agree that lawyers shouldn't be allowed to give statements during trials that they know are lies. But besides from that? I sometimes get angry too when I here lawyers bringing up ridiculous claims or when they insult or even abuse a witness or a victim in order to put their client in a better situation. But isn't it so that the whole system in some aspects can be viewed as an arena or a stage of some kind of a theater were people plays different roles and that the legal safety that we all depend upon requires good lawyers that solely look after their own client's interest - not anyone elses?
We seem to return to this question over and over again. Not surprisingly we see it from different angles. The issue came up again in the Chamberlain-thread, but I think it has merited itself for a thread of its own.

I think we all agree that an execution causes new victims that has to deal with the fact that a close relative (father, son, husband, sibling, close friend etc) is dead and will never come back. I think that most of you can agree also that it must be a huge trauma to loose a close relative in this way, a person who often is quite young and healthy and could have lived for many years on. But who is responsible? The pro-position is simple: The condemned inmate solely! He did the crime, no one else is to blame. We as a society don't need to feel any guilt for the pain the execution causes for his relatives.

Of course there is a reversed position you can find among many antis: The inmate might have committed the crime, but the responsibility lays on the society if we execute him. There might even be statements like "He's another victim of the state"

I disagree with both this positions. One of my main principles is that if we are adults and not mentally insane, then we are responsible for all our decisions and actions - at least as long as there are other options available. The same goes for everyone of us: criminals, law makers or you and I.

The criminal/offender/inmate is responsible for his crime and how it all ended up, this I don't dispute. He knows that killing another person is wrong and can lead to the DP (and all the pain this will cause his relatives) in the US. He can't blame the state or anyone else that he was sent to death row. If he has any courage he should apologize without any attempts to explain away anything to both the relatives of the murder victim and his own relatives for all the pain he caused them.

This however doesn't mean that the society doesn't have any responsibility. We (or you) choose whether we shall use the DP or not and (if the answer is YES we shall) under what specific circumstances. This decisions isn't a question of real self defense where no other options are available. If a robber points his gun at me and it just so happens that I have a gun myself, then I have the right to shoot him to defend my own life. I'm not obliged to find out whether he really has any plans to shoot me - the risk is to high that he is serious and I could be dead any second. But with the suspect already caught and handcuffed this isn't the case. If the DP really was "self defense" it wouldn't be a motivated risk to wait for appeals to be exhausted - the wisest thing would be to kill him immediately after the verdict from the jury (with the risk of killing an innocent for a crime he didn't commit).

I agree that there is a risk with keeping them alive, even inside prison. But let's be honest: This risk is present even with many other prisoners, not to mention many people not incarcerated. Say f.e. that the state of Texas decided to use the 400-or-so cells at DR for the 400 most dangerous men in the total population instead, how big changes would that lead to? I would guess that say around 50 or so of the DR prisoners would stay in their cells. The rest would be replaced by far more dangerous men and transported to gen.pop instead. But lets say we keep all 1st degree murderers in solitary confinement for security reasons and keep them handcuffed whenever they're not in their cells, how big risk would remain? Almost none I would say. Hey - even a more controlled environment in general might be enough. We have some nasty murderers and other criminals in Sweden as well. Very few of them are isolated and such things as handcuffs inside prison and non-contact visits aren't used. Nevertheless there have been no killings of guards or other prison personel in modern times here.

If we still see them as dangerous we can always give them drugs that calm them down.

I agree that there are arguments for using the DP even if you look behind this. But to say that we have to use the DP because we're absolutely forced to do so, is simply not true. Therefore we have to take at least some kind of responsibility if we choose to use it. Anything else would be to deny that we are adults who stand behind our own decisions and actions like real adults shall do. That also means that we have to admit that some of the responsibility for the pain caused to murderers relatives is on our shoulders. There were other options available. This doesn't necessary mean that it's wrong. We cannot always choose paths that causes absolutely no pain or damage to anyone.

I'm not naive - I think most of you is going to disagree. In fact I believe that this part might be cruicial for at least some of you. I see the empathy and understanding you have in general for other persons and if you believed or admitted that the responsibilty for a death sentence was shared I'm not sure that you could stand behind it anymore, knowing what this would meant for innocent mothers, childrens and wifes of the condemned murderers.

Finally: Note that I haven't talked about responsibility against the criminal. Their well-being is the thing I'm least concerned about. It's not compassion for them that creates my resistance against the DP, although I may feel sorry (without denying their responsibilty for their crimes) for some of them. For many of them I do however feel just disgust or nothing at all. I couldn't care less that Mark Schwab is dead, but I do feel very sorry for his mother.
Off Topic - Anything / The TDCJ DR-lottery
October 11, 2007, 01:38:50 PM
Just a bizarre thought that fled through my head in a way that forced me to share it with you. Don't take it too serious...  :P

Say you were an inmate on Texas death row with no real chance of escaping the execution in the long run. Would you accept if TDCJ offered you to join a lottery with the following options:

20% chance of having your conviction reversed and yourself set free.

20% chance of having your sentence commuted to life

20% chance of just return back to your cell

40% chance of recieving an immediate execution without any possibilities to appeal

I think I would take my chance...
Maybe this has been discussed already, but I can't find anything when I do searches.

What do you think about using the bible and what's in it when defending or opposing the DP? To me it's almost totally pointless. Why? Because the bible is what it is: A book filled with contradictory statements and opinions written down by different people in different times and different cultural contexts. Everyone who want's can find passages that justify (or seem to justify) his or her beliefs. The pro can quote the OT and say "An eye for an eye", "He who kills shall be killed" etc. The anti can quote the sixth commandment or "turn the other cheek". And both of them wil be right. Or wrong. Because that's the nature of the bible. On most subject's you wont be able to draw an uncontradictory conclusion about what the bible "really" says - no matter how many christians there are in the world that like to think otherwise.

Then there's also the fact that people do not agree about the status of the bible. To some it is the word of God (or at least written in the spirit of God). To others it is a book with some wisdom and some not-so-much wisdom. And to some it's mostly outdated rubbish written by some uneducated, goat-f*ck*ng shepherds thousands of years ago. (It may be wise of me to declare that I count myself in to #2 of the above mentioned cathegories). So when one person talks about "an eye for an eye" or "turn the other cheek" as an argument another one will just see this as an opinion with no really foundation.

Now I don't really expect (or worse: demand) that everyone will stop using the bible in their arguments. But this is what I think. What do you think?
Off Topic - Anything / Stockholm
June 25, 2007, 10:14:24 AM
Okay, I have to do some bragging  ;) I live in Stockholm - the capital of Sweden. For large parts of the year it's dark and cold here, as well as in the rest of Sweden. But during summer this city shows why it is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Stockholms was founded 750 years ago on a small island where the Baltic Sea meets the Lake Mälaren. Since then it has spread over the nearby islands and seashores. You're never far from water here, as I think this pictures will show.

Panoramic view from the seaside. In the centre of the picture is the Stockholm castle

This kind of contrast are typical for Stockholm. In the background you see "downtown"

City hall. This is were the Nobel price ceremonies are held every year.

Old town - on the small island were the city started. Most buildings are from the 16th or 17th century.

Another panoramic view of the central parts. Hope this one isn't too big

The guard on the Stockholm Castle - an old tradition
A comment I just made in another topic brought this subject up in my mind again.

Pro-DP:s often advocates the prinicple of "an eye for an eye" to justify the DP. However they often seem more reluctant to apply it on other criminal cases. F.e: someone attacks you in a bar and during the fight one of your arms becomes broken. Wouldn't it be appropriate given the EFAE principle to broke the other guys arm on the same place to have justice served?

Or give this scenario a thought: A burglar breaks into my apartment and steals $1000. To me EFEA justice here is not just taking my 1000 dollars back, but rather take another $1000 from the burglar (if possible). Does this seem reasonable to you?
Off Topic - Anything / Longest DP survivor?
May 14, 2007, 12:39:24 PM
This is just a odd history about a man who maybe holds the world record in being the longest survivor of a death penalty.

In 1908 there was a strike among the dockers in the harbour of Malmö (Swedens 3rd largest city located in the nearby area of Copenhagen). The employer eventually hired strikebreakers who spent the nights on a ship named Amalthea. One night a young swede named Anton Nilson placed a bomb on the ship. The bomb exploded and one of the men was killed and several others were injured. Nilson - a socialist activist - was arrested and prosecuted along with two companions. The court gave him a DP. The DP was still active in Sweden this days - two years later another murderer was executed. After some time however Nilson was pardoned and recieved a life time sentence instead.

Some years passed and there was a growing opinion for the release of Anton Nilson who was regarded as a political prisoner (although he admitted the murder). A lot of political meetings were held - even in the U.S, involving famous activist Joe Hill - regarding his case. In 1917 around 10.000 workers arrived to a little city in which prison Nilson was incarcerated, in an attempt to acquit (disembrass?) him. The prison staff (who were armed with machine guns) had orders to rather shoot Nilson than leaving him to the demonstrators. But the attack never came and the demonstration was dismissed.

Later the same year Sweden got its first social democratic prime minister and Anton Nilson was pardoned from his sentence and released. Nilson's dream was to become a pilote. A swedish banker helped him with the money needed and Nilson got his flight certificate. Shortly thereafter he - still a socialist - travelled to Russia and enrolled himself in the red army where he served as a pilote. During his years in Russia he met both Lenin and Stalin. But Anton Nilson became more and more critical against Stalin who he thought betrayed the working people and transfered Soviet into a police state (said as early as 1925 which shows quite a good insight despite of his rotten political beliefs)

Anton Nilson returned back home to Sweden where he lived a more quiet life. He was a member of the swedish communist party - but later in life he became less extreme and joined the social democrats instead. In 1987 he celebrated his 100th birthday - still active and still lecturing about his life and his experiences - mostly among young people. In 1989 he finally passed away. He was almost 102 years old and more than 80 years had passed since he recieved his death sentence. Compared to that Roland Chambers is just a ridiculous junior  ;D ;D ;D

There are things in life that are very hard to imagine how they would feel as long as you haven't experienced them by yourself. This is perhaps especially true when the feelings involved are strong. At least when I think back of watching the birth of my first son and - some years later - losing my own father in a sudden heart attack I see that there was no way I could have fully imagined the feelings inside before these events really happened.

In this sense it is of course true when Eryn and others claim that no one can really know if they would remain an anti-DP if someone murdered a close relative or friend. However, I see a couple of problems with this argument - at least as long as it is used to argue for the pro-DP side:

a) It's obvious that experiencing a murder on a close relative doesn't automatically turn you into a pro-DP either. As a link in another topic showed, there are in fact a lot of people who remain more or less strong antis even in the U.S.

b) Even if it's true that actual experiences can change your mind and opinions I think the opposite is equally true, at least among people who have considered their views carefully. If you f.e. are really convinced that killing is wrong in any other situation than in self-defense - why would you change your mind just because someone killed your brother? I don't doubt that you would fantasize about vengeance - that is a part om human nature whenever we feel ourselves insulted. But eventually I think you would go back to your original point-of-view in most if not in every cases.

c) You forget the opposite side of the coin. If experience of being a close relative to a murder victim would turn antis to pros - what about experience of being a close relative to a person sentenced to death and transferred to DR? If we admit that we don't know if we would remain antis in the first case (I admit it, what else could I do?), then logically a pro have to admit that he or she can't be sure of what they would think if their brother, husband or father received a death sentence.

d) The "lack-of-experience" argument can always be stretched into other fields as well. If a relative waiting for the execution of their sons murderer get to know this murderers innocent relatives and become friends with them (such things HAS happened) can we be sure of that they would maintain their wish to have the murderer executed if they really experienced the grieve and pain of the murderers relatives, awaiting their sons death in the execution chamber? To me the answer is clear enough: We cannot.

Therefore - with all respect to the Baugh family as well as others striked by similar terrific events - I cannot agree with the "experience would turn you into a pro"-argument. Because we never know for sure what different kinds of experiences could turn us into.