Discussion 1

Death Penalty
Texas carries out the death penalty more than any other state.
Executions by State (since 1976)
         State                                                                                      Total Executions
         Texas                                                                                               515
         Oklahoma                                                                                  111
         Virginia                                                                                      110
          Florida                                                                                         88
          Missouri                                                                                    77
          Alabama                                                                                    56
          Georgia                                                                                      54
           Ohio                                                                                            53
           North Carolina                                                                     43
           South Carolina                                                                     43
           Arizona                                                                                     37
           Louisiana                                                                                 28
           Arkansas                                                                                  27
           Mississippi                                                                              21
           Indiana                                                                                      20
           Delaware                                                                                 16
           California                                                                                13
           Illinois                                                                                        12
           Nevada                                                                                      12
           Utah                                                                                              7
           Tennessee                                                                                 6
            Maryland                                                                                  5
            Washington                                                                            5
            Nebraska                                                                                  3
            Montana                                                                                   3
            Pennsylvania                                                                         3
            U. S. Federal Gov’t                                                              3
            Kentucky                                                                                  3
            Idaho                                                                                           3
            South Dakota                                                                         3
            Oregon                                                                                       2
            Connecticut                                                                            1
            New Mexico                                                                            1
            Colorado                                                                                    1
            Wyoming                                                                                   1


And a very large majority of Texans support continued use of the death penalty. Here’s a Texas poll from 2012:
What is your opinion of the death penalty?
Strongly support:          42%
Somewhat support:       31%
Somewhat oppose:        11%
Strongly oppose:           10%
Don’t know:                    5%
SOURCE: University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, May 2012
But we know several things:
* the death penalty is far more expensive than life imprisonment without parole;
* the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime;
* the death penalty is implemented in a racially unbalanced manner;
* the death penalty has been carried out on innocent victims.
If you don’t think those things are true, you can easily look it up to prove it to yourself.
Given that the above statements are true, why do we still have capital punishment in Texas? What justification is there – beyond simple blood-lust vengeance – for capital punishment? Is vengeance an adequate reason for the state to kill people, even if sometimes we kill someone who is innocent?
Check out this last table:

Rank                                            Country                                       Number executed in 2012[69]

1                                              People’s Republic of China     4,000+Officially not released.
2                                              Iran                                                         314+
3                                              Iraq                                                         129+
4                                              Saudi Arabia                                       79+
5                                              United States                                     43
6                                              Yemen                                                     28+
7                                              Sudan                                                       19+
8                                              Afghanistan                                          14
9                                              Gambia                                                     9
10                                           Japan                                                         7
11                                           North Korea                                          6+
12                                           Somalia                                                     6+
13                                           Palestinian Authority                       6
14                                           Republic of China (Taiwan)            6
15                                           South Sudan                                           5+
16                                           Belarus                                                      3+
17                                           Botswana                                                 2
18                                           Bangladesh                                             1
19                                           India                                                            1
20                                           Pakistan                                                    1
21                                           United Arab Emirates                       1


Does the company the US keeps by retaining the death penalty cause you to question our continuing to perform executions?
What’s your opinion?
Should Texas, and should the US, continue to carry out executions?
Yes, I know I’ve painted a completely one-sided picture of the death penalty. I haven’t, for example, provided descriptions of crimes committed that have led to executions. I haven’t provided statements from family members of murder victims. I haven’t done several things I could have done to make this a “fair” presentation. I decided not to do that because a) given that we live in Texas, I didn’t think I needed to present that side of the picture, and b) I thought some of you might not know some of those things and might not look them up before responding.
You’ll find that in this class I regularly do not give both sides of the story. My goal is to make you think — to question your assumptions. Hopefully when I present a one-sided story you’ll take the time to investigate the other side. There’s ALWAYS another side! Please do NOT assume you know what I think about this or any other issue based on the way I ask the question or based on what data I present. And please do NOT EVER tailor your answer based on what you think I want to hear. I promise you that you do not know what I want to hear, or even if I “want to hear” anything at all.
The only other rules about your responses to this and all the discussion boards are that you a) stay on topic, and b) remain respectful toward your classmates. Disrespectful posts will be deleted.
Remember you need to make your “Initial Post” of at least 250 words and you need to complete at least two responses (the “Final Posts”) of at least 200 words each to classmates by the dates shown in the course schedule.
Remember there is one date for your Initial Post and a later date for your Final Posts.

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