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April 23, 2008

Still more perspectives on the death penalty

These two items noted at How Appealing this morning provide perspective on how many different perspectives there can be on the American death penalty:

  • "Cruel and Unusual History: The Supreme Court has repeatedly ignored the barbaric history of the death penalty." Gilbert King has this op-ed today in The New York Times.
  • "Serial killer Daniel Siebert dies of pancreatic cancer on Alabama's Death Row; Daughter of New Jersey victim says justice not served": This article appears today in The Birmingham News.

Comment away on whose perspective seems more compelling.

April 23, 2008 at 08:46 AM | Permalink

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» One more thought on methods of execution from Concurring Opinions
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Tracked on Apr 28, 2008 6:11:11 PM

Comments

In the second piece, the family seems to be, understandably, confused about what it is they want. On the one hand, it seems they want Siebert to die in a manner that is less humane than the deaths of his victims, yet in their last sentence, they seem to be saying that they wanted him to get the humane execution he deserved. I wonder if they know what they really want. Do those more familiar in working with families find this kind of apparent confusion to be normal? I would assume it changes over time as well. Was the second line simply a plug from the AG's office/Prosecutor whatever to help support the idea that executions are humane?

Posted by: Christopher | Apr 23, 2008 11:24:41 AM

The irony to me about the Siebert case is that his death from pancreatic cancer was much more painful and agonizing than it would have been had he been executed.

Posted by: justice seeker | Apr 23, 2008 10:55:48 PM

Siebert's cheating of the executioner's needle points up the utter irresponsibility of the Supreme Court staying executions during the pendency of Baze. These guys had their chances to challenge lethal injection and chose to wait until the last minute, and the Supreme Court rewarded such behavior--behavior which it has specifically condemned in the past, and behavior which any legal system worth its salt condemns. Perhaps the Supreme Court didn't want to suffer the slings and arrows of the New York Times editorial page whining about executions while the Court was considering the constitutionality of the execution method, but that's why they get paid the big bucks, and to quote Hillary, if you can't stand the heat . . . . So, for a lack of moral courage, the Court made victims suffer needlessly and violated its own rules. So much for the rule of law.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 23, 2008 11:02:57 PM

What is interesting is how the article notes that Siebert was never convicted of the murder whose victim's family is complaining about the lack of execution. Thus, it would seem that their complaints are totally without foundation - was there any evidence besides the confession that Siebert actually was the killer? There are many cases where serial killers have taken credit for murders they did not commit in order to bolster their reputation (and of course, the police also encourage this practice so they can close a cold case).

Justice was served in Siebert's case - he spent the rest of his life in prison which is the exact same result which his execution would have reached. The fact that cancer killed him rather than Alabama is irrelevant for the ends of justice.

Posted by: Zack | Apr 25, 2008 10:36:15 AM

Thus, it would seem that their complaints are totally without foundation - was there any evidence besides the confession that Siebert actually was the killer?

Oh, maybe the fact that he killed 5 others by the same method and roughly at the same time.

There's reason to doubt that Siebert killed McDougall, but McDougall's family's complaints aren't "totally without foundation."

Posted by: | Apr 25, 2008 3:54:01 PM

The first article misrepresents the cases. No one is suggesting that firing squads, electric chairs, or lethal injections always go without a hitch. There have been imperfect executions in the past, and there will likely be more in the future. So what? The NYTimes's graphic descriptions of the executions are a little rich considering that anti-dp types often get upset when the Supreme court graphically describes the circumstances of a murder before ruling on the murderer's procedural rights or on the Eighth Amendment issue before it.

Which perspective one finds more compelling is probably mostly a matter of one's intuitions, rather than any sort of reasonable legal discussion. The Eighth Amendment cases are incoherent, and they change depending on who's on the court.

I'm more sympathetic to the McDougall family's 22-year wait for closure than I am to the extra suffering of murderers who died 100 years ago. I'm sure that there are others who disagree.

Posted by: | Apr 25, 2008 4:04:24 PM

"Justice was served in Siebert's case - he spent the rest of his life in prison which is the exact same result which his execution would have reached. The fact that cancer killed him rather than Alabama is irrelevant for the ends of justice."

Well, yes, if you discount the fact that his "life" sentence would have been a lot quicker had his appeals not dragged out interminably. The sophistry in here rarely ceases to amaze. Dying in prison is now equivalent to capital punishment.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 25, 2008 9:58:02 PM

To answer some of your questions. It was Daniel Lee Siebert that murdered our Mother,on March 8,1986.1979-stabbed to death L.Evans 29times to his death.Dec 12, 1985 killed a girl in Las Vegas.Dec 19,1985 killed N.McEirathy-Las Angeles.Dec 24,1985 killed G.Castro-Hollywood.Feb3,1986 killed S. Evans in Birmingham.Feb 19,1986 killed L.Outum in Talladaga.Feb 19,1986 killed Sherri Weathers in Talladaga & her two Boys,Chad & Joesph (3 & 5 years old)Febuary 19,1986 killed L. Jarman in Talladaga. (2) other girls in Alabama from the time he arrived to the night of Feb 19th. March 8th,1986 my mom. In New Jersey Jail for robbing someone on the boardwalk the night he murdered our mom.Told of possible (2) other girls between their and Atlanta.(That he gave the right answers for) And (1) other in Altlanta before being apprehened in Nashville. How do we know he Beat, Stabbed & strangled our Mom to death...He had our keys to my house& other things of our Moms.And also told them where he left her & how.As he did with many others. Seems to me he had all the right answers for their questions.I know first hand.Let me ask you all....If your loved one was murdered, Mother,Father, Sister, Brother,Child would you not want anyone to answer for it???We were just told by New Jersey she was Murdered.And never to speak to anyone again.Alabama were the ones that informed us as to our answers. It wasn't until last Summer New Jersey finally let us come and read his confession as to our mother murder.Only after my request asking them did they agree.Reading his confession is all we got & our Mothers Body!!!For all of you that don't understand, may you never have to take this journey in your life time.

Posted by: beaiam | Apr 25, 2008 11:06:41 PM

Siebert was charged with our Moms Murder.March 28,1987.By New Jersey.And the others also on dates following April 27.1987.

Posted by: beaiam | May 22, 2008 5:13:26 PM

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