dstebbins

How objectively effective was crucifixion as a criminal deterrent?

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Ok, so it's fairly common knowledge that, contrary to intuition, states in the USA that do not have the death penalty actually have lower murder rates than those that do. If that wasn't common knowledge to you ... well ... a 2-minute google search can verify it for you.

But those studies only compare capital punishment vs. non-capital punishment. What about different forms of capital punishment? Is more humane execution more effective as a criminal deterrent than slow, painful, and (most importantly of all) public death?

While I was able to find plenty of articles detailing the attitudes of the policy-makers of the Roman Empire regarding execution methods such as crucifixion, such as this one, I was unable to find any article based on objective fact giving any insight as to how objectively accurate these attitudes were. For example, in the article I just linked you to, he says "Do that [crucifixion] a few times for horse-theft, and see how many horse thieves you’ll find."

However, he quickly tempers this argument by saying "Or so the Romans reasoned, in any event."

I was able to find this article on the effectiveness of torture, but it did not even purport to be grounded in objective fact verified by unbiased and/or double-blind research. Rather, this article purports on its face to be a survey taken of regular people giving their biased and uncorroborated opinions.

Now please understand that I am not asking for any input on whether tortuous execution is morally justified, cruel and unusual, a necessary evil, or whatever. I am asking for one thing and one thing only: Whether citizens in a country threatened with slow, painful, public execution are less likely to commit crimes than in political borders that provide for more "humane" executions (including the execution being conducted privately and only after numerous appeals), all else being equal.

That last part about "all else being equal" is admittedly a tough criterion to meet, as you are very unlikely to find two countries - even countries that no longer exist and never existed at the same time - who are almost completely identical in their judicial and penal systems, except for the exact method by which they carry out capital punishments. The comparisons between capital and non-capital punishments in the United States that I mentioned at the top of this OP are more immediately comparable, because the U.S. Constitution guarantees a certain uniform standard of justice across the various states. It's a situation that's more-less unique to the USA.

Even if you could find two countries that were similar enough in their judicial and penal processes, we would also have to consider what sort of technology and forensics they routinely used. If they existed at two different points in world history, that factor is out the window almost instantly. After all, it's fairly well documented that punishment certainty is generally a more effective criminal deterrent than punishment severity, and what forensics technology the government has at its disposal will undoubtedly have a monumental impact on the former factor.

So is there anything out there that's even remotely objective and scientific, commenting on the effectiveness of torturous execution as a criminal deterrent?

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IMHO, the best way to reduce criminal activity in society is free of charge higher degree education..

 

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7 minutes ago, Sensei said:

IMHO, the best way to reduce criminal activity in society is free of charge higher degree education..

 

If you think there are no criminal geniuses (e.g. those who are able to rig together MacGuiver-quality equipment out of bubble gum, a bag of rubber bands, and a roll of duck tape) who could have nearly any job they wanted, but who CHOOSE a life of crime, then you are sorely mistaken.

 

EDIT: https://www.ranker.com/list/smart-serial-killers/lea-rose-emery

Edited by dstebbins

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3 minutes ago, dstebbins said:

If you think there are no criminal geniuses (...) who could have nearly any job they wanted, but who CHOOSE a life of crime, then you are sorely mistaken.

But such people are rather exception, invisible in statistics, rather than rule.

"Source: Becky Pettit, Bryan Sykes, and Bruce Western, “Technical Report on Revised Population Estimates and NLSY79 Analysis Tables for the Pew Public Safety and Mobility Project” (Harvard University, 2009)."

incarceration-western.thumb.jpg.3ee3ab1f54e9510106a738dad8bc3fd2.jpg

Edited by Sensei

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Yeah well ... can we discuss the question I asked in the OP and title thread? Pretty please!

Also ...

 

6 minutes ago, Sensei said:

But such people are rather exception (...), invisible in statistics, rather than rule.

"Source: Becky Pettit, Bryan Sykes, and Bruce Western, “Technical Report on Revised Population Estimates and NLSY79 Analysis Tables for the Pew Public Safety and Mobility Project” (Harvard University, 2009)." 

incarceration-western.thumb.jpg.3ee3ab1f54e9510106a738dad8bc3fd2.jpg

 

Okay, but the largest percentage of criminals consist of high school dropouts, not just college dropouts. We already have free secondary education. Unless you want to advocate that college becomes mandatory, then making it free isn't going to help much.

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7 minutes ago, dstebbins said:

Okay, but the largest percentage of criminals consist of high school dropouts, not just college dropouts. We already have free secondary education.

...to make statistics more clear we should check how much of these incarcerations/dropouts were caused by narcotics usage.. (e.g. student is caught on usage of narcotics -> dropout from school -> lost chance for education & no money -> abuses narcotics more.. starts dealing narcotics or stealing to get them -> incarceration)

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59 minutes ago, dstebbins said:

But those studies only compare capital punishment vs. non-capital punishment. What about different forms of capital punishment? Is more humane execution more effective as a criminal deterrent than slow, painful, and (most importantly of all) public death?

I don't believe 'humane' i.e. minimally unpleasant execution has ever been tried.

Animal and human studies have shown that being rendered unconscious by a brief high concentration of argon or nitrogen is painless, with no reason to think that lethal exposure causes pain.

AFAIK such a method has never been tried.

There used to be possibly true American stories of executioners winding up and down the electric chair voltage for entertainment, and now of course lethal injections with the claim 'We're sure this time it will work as planned.' An important reason for executions is stories like those, whether or not they are true.

In many states the sensible thing for a psychopath who has accidentally killed someone during a robbery is to kill all the witnesses, since there is no additional punishment and his chance of escaping justice is better.

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2 minutes ago, Carrock said:

I don't believe 'humane' i.e. minimally unpleasant execution has ever been tried.

Animal and human studies have shown that being rendered unconscious by a brief high concentration of argon or nitrogen is painless, with no reason to think that lethal exposure causes pain.

AFAIK such a method has never been tried. 

There used to be possibly true American stories of executioners winding up and down the electric chair voltage for entertainment, and now of course lethal injections with the claim 'We're sure this time it will work as planned.' An important reason for executions is stories like those, whether or not they are true.

In many states the sensible thing for a psychopath who has accidentally killed someone during a robbery is to kill all the witnesses, since there is no additional punishment and his chance of escaping justice is better. 

So how does this comment on the objective effectiveness of tortuous execution as a criminal deterrent? It almost seems as if you're advocating a quick & painless execution for those who commit a single murder but ramp it up to a long and tortuous one if they commit multiple murders. But how effective would that be as a criminal deterrent?

Also, executioners who themselves drag out the executions longer than necessary for their own sadistic pleasure is not the same thing as the method of execution itself being long and tortuous. The executioner in the former case is committing a crime himself (although whether he actually gets punished for that crime is a different story), whereas a Roman general nailing a traitor to a cross on the Emperor's orders before leaving him to hang until death is not. The electric chair isn't supposed to be long and tortuous by design, and it's not something that an aspiring criminal can think about when he's weighing the risk of committing the crime.

That last one is essential to the discussion I'm trying to get going, because that last one is the whole point of it being a criminal deterrent.

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28 minutes ago, Carrock said:

since there is no additional punishment and his chance of escaping justice is better.

There is a significant amount of additional punishment for killing an entire group of people then just one.

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22 minutes ago, dstebbins said:

So how does this comment on the objective effectiveness of tortuous execution as a criminal deterrent? It almost seems as if you're advocating a quick & painless execution for those who commit a single murder but ramp it up to a long and tortuous one if they commit multiple murders. But how effective would that be as a criminal deterrent?

I'm discussing America as they're the most open country about torture and executions.

3 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

There is a significant amount of additional punishment for killing an entire group of people then just one.

The constitution only permits cruel and usual punishments; increased torture for executions for multiple murders would have to be presented as unintentional and I'm not aware of it happening.

The constitution also only guarantees a fair trial; innocence is not relevant; excluding deliberate malfeasance, there are plenty of instances where innocent individuals have been sentenced to death e.g. when prosecutors know they are innocent but the defence is incompetent; a few have their convictions quashed. I don't advocate a system where perhaps a couple of dozen people with legal impunity get together and end someone's life. Hard to see any real difference between that and criminal conspiracy to murder.

 

42 minutes ago, dstebbins said:

The electric chair isn't supposed to be long and tortuous by design, and it's not something that an aspiring criminal can think about when he's weighing the risk of committing the crime.

That last one is essential to the discussion I'm trying to get going, because that last one is the whole point of it being a criminal deterrent.

Criminal: "The electric chair voltage adjustment wasn't designed for torture and I'm sure those stories of conductive pads bursting into flame are fake news, so I won't be affected at all by torture which I'm sure the nice people who may kill me won't inflict."

Really? Are you saying being killed by the state is a deterrent/reason to kill all witnesses, but the avoidable torture is not?

53 minutes ago, dstebbins said:

Also, executioners who themselves drag out the executions longer than necessary for their own sadistic pleasure is not the same thing as the method of execution itself being long and tortuous. The executioner in the former case is committing a crime himself

Very simple defence: the executioner was performing a noble experiment to try to reduce the suffering of the prisoner. Prove otherwise.

 

My best guess is fear of torture during execution is responsible for only a minority of those cases where a criminal kills all witnesses to avoid capture. The arbitrary way the death penalty is enforced is probably a far more important factor in those killings.

 

1 hour ago, dstebbins said:

It almost seems as if you're advocating a quick & painless execution for those who commit a single murder but ramp it up to a long and tortuous one if they commit multiple murders.

dstebbins : you've deniably accused me of advocating torture and execution.

I'm opposed to both, on moral and practical grounds.

I therefor have a reasonable basis to assume you support both unless you come off the fence.

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8 hours ago, dstebbins said:

can we discuss the question I asked in the OP and title thread? Pretty please!

No, because the data simply is not available.

 

7 hours ago, Carrock said:

In many states the sensible thing for a psychopath who has accidentally killed someone during a robbery is to kill all the witnesses, since there is no additional punishment and his chance of escaping justice is better.

You don't  need to be a psychopath to think that way.

 

7 hours ago, Raider5678 said:

There is a significant amount of additional punishment for killing an entire group of people then just one.

In one case you get killed; in the other case you get killed more than once?

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Crime, and prisons, were much less prevalent in the former USSR than in Western countries.
I suppose it's because J Stalin didn't punish just the criminal, but rather, his whole family was sent to the gulag, or executed.
( and their dog, too )

Is that the kind of society we want to be ?

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I beg to differ, John.
As a Canadian we have a lower incarceration rate and prison population than the UK does.
( as per your link )

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9 minutes ago, MigL said:

I beg to differ, John.
As a Canadian we have a lower incarceration rate and prison population than the UK does.
( as per your link )

Bother!
I should really learn to read.

 

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