Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has begun serving his prison sentence, making him the first former head of government in Israel to go to prison. Olmert will enter Ma’asiyahu prison near Tel Aviv on Monday to start serving a 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice. Hours before entering the prison, Olmert released a…
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By Allyn Farach
Last week, the Death Penalty Information Center Three released statistics saying that roughly 23 percent of practicing Christians born between 1980 and 2000 supported the death penalty, and only 32 percent of millennials total supported the death penalty. What was the cause for change? The United States spends millions on convicting and executing criminals on death row, but is that wisely spent? Does the death penalty take care of larger problems such as abuse, or do these problems get worse?
Mark Elliot, the director of Floridians for Alternatives To The Death Penalty, said about costs: “The best estimate is that the death penalty costs us taxpayers an extra fifty million dollars a year. That’s almost a million dollars a week.”
Indeed, a study done by Loyola Law School says that California has spent $4 million on the death penalty ever since reinstating it in 2011, and that costs expect to rise to $9 billion by 2030.
“The cost studies fail because they don’t provide an apples to apples comparison of the death penalty vs LWOP, which is required to make any rational judgement and/or they are very incomplete and/or they are very dishonest, as Nevada’s, wherein they left out 11 executions, which occurred within 4.5 years of appeals, on average, meaning, in reality, the death penalty must be less expensive than life without parole (LWOP) in Nevada,” said Dudley Sharp, former vice president of Justice for All and currently helping run prodeathpenalty.com.
Alive prisoners do need shelter, food and healthcare. So how does money influence what 20-somethings think about the death penalty?
congenitaldisease posted on her tumblr: “It’s a waste of money. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being wasted on a response to murder which is calculated to be carried out on a small amount of unlucky people per year and which has done nothing to stem the rise in murder, which is therefor (sp) ineffective.”
“We are only perpetuating endless cycles of violence upon violence.”
But morals remain one of the key factors determining stances for or against the death penalty. Is assigning death penalty charges to those who commit heinous crimes fix epidemics like abuse?
In the case of Lisa Ann Coleman, when she was granted the death penalty in 2006 for her role in the death of her partner’s nine-year-old, prosecutor Mitch Poe said in a report the day that Coleman was granted the death penalty: “The fact that a female has gotten the death penalty for killing a child, it’s a step forward for bringing child abuse out of the darkness of people’s homes and into the light of day.”
But was he right?
“Well, it doesn’t solve any problems. The only problem it definitely solves are a bunch of problems that local prosecutors and state attorneys may have with funding,” Elliot said.
Sharp has a different sentiment. “My theory, which I find has solid support, is that the root cause of murder is not enough respect for innocent lives. The root causes of crime, and solving those problems, has never been the purpose of sanction and, rationally, never should be….Sanction is based within justice, a proportional response to the crime, which also has the secondary benefits of safety for society, deterrence and reformation of some criminals,” Sharp said.
However, the death penalty is said to have two types of effects.
Nicholas Peterson, an assistant professor at the University of Miami who has written various articles on the death penalty, said in a phone interview: “It’s mainly supposed to be a deterrent in the sense that if you see somebody being executed for a particular crime, that’s supposed to deter you from wanting to make that same kind of crime. It can also be seen as a form of incapacitation, by actually killing somebody, you prevent that individual from committing a crime in the future…so, it’s a little bit of both in theory, but it’s supposed to be more of a deterrent.”
Essentially, seeing someone get killed for something should stop people from going out and doing the same thing. However, Peterson said that various factors such as the influence of drugs or alcohol have people go out and commit violent acts, despite punishment. Mental illness can be another factor, such as with Herbert Mullin, who felt that murdering people would stop earthquakes in California.
But some millennials think the death penalty is a deterrent from the actual problem.
“Violence is committed by those who are trapped in fear and in the most pain. When we add to their pain by committing violence against them, we are only perpetuating endless cycles of violence upon violence,” wrote a Jesse White to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty tumblr.
The way that society sees the death penalty in general could also affect how millennials see it. Pope Francis recently spoke out against the execution of a Georgia inmate named Kelly Renee Gissendaner last Tuesday, asking the Georgia board of pardons and paroles, “I nonetheless implore you, in consideration of the reasons that have been expressed to your board, to commute the sentence to one that would better express both justice and mercy.”
It’s obvious that the opinion of a world religious leader may affect the opinions of his followers.
“The main reason a majority of 20-somethings may be against the death penalty (if they are) is because 1) the media is, overwhelmingly, anti death penalty; 2) the majority in academia are anti death penalty; 3) the anti death penalty movement is highly organized and hugely funded; 4) there is no pro death penalty movement,” Dudley Sharp, a pro death penalty advocate wrote in an email to Rise News. “There’s a saying that the more you know about the death penalty, the less you like it, because people find out more about it, that’s the key. Then, if they have the information to make an informed decision. Most of the time, they’ll see that even if they agreed with, you know, the theory of the death penalty, an eye for an eye, but then practiced as a government program, it makes too many mistakes, it’s expensive, and it diverts their most valuable resources from where they could do so much good to protect the public and really improve criminal justice…”
Essentially, the way that a society utilizes the death penalty changes how people see it. Peterson spoke on Europe’s use of the death penalty.
“Just recently until the past couple of decades, they’ve had the death penalty, and because of changes in their laws and in public opinion, they no longer have the death penalty, so to them, it means the death penalty means something very different because it’s no longer an acceptable form of punishment in their society,” Peterson said.
Florida State University Professor Emeritus Gordon Waldo said in a phone interview that out of the 37 countries in the world that use the death penalty, some of them use it mostly for political reasons. “They sometimes just execute people to get rid of the complaints.”
Social context is applicable as well-Waldo also spoke of a period in the ‘70s in the United States where the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional because it was used in a discriminatory manner.
A variety of things can reflect how twenty somethings view the death penalty, from money to ethics to the world around them. Logic behind these stances for or against the death penalty differ from person to person. The most crucial takeaway to determine your stance is to research immensely, be informed and decide accordingly.
Cover Photo Credit: David Shankbone/Flickr (CC by 2.0)
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Three weeks out from the first votes of the 2016 presidential election, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is better-positioned than ever to win his party’s nomination.
Dismissed as little more than a sideshow just a few months ago, the long-predicted Trump collapse has failed to materialize, and political professionals increasingly view Trump as a possible, perhaps even likely, general election candidate.
The magnate attributes his success to support from a “silent majority,” but Trump backers are neither.
Earlier this week, fed up with Trump’s hateful rhetoric, I traveled to Lowell, MA to protest at a Trump rally.
What I saw horrified me. The crowd packed into the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell resembled nothing so much as a physical manifestation of blinding rage.
Generally speaking, people waiting to enter a political rally are happy and excited, eager to see their favorite candidate. But from the moment I encountered them, Trump supporters seemed to wear a permanent scowl, trading dim-witted barbs about “libtards” and other enemies.
Countless numbers wore shirts attacking Hillary Clinton, often reading “Hillary for Prison 2016.”
Once inside, as we waited for the rally to begin, an announcement played over the PA asking rally attendees to refrain from attacking people who disagreed with Trump. Folks around me laughed menacingly, and remarked that the Trump campaign was asking too much.
But I had no idea what I was in for when a few minutes into Trump’s rambling speech, I held up a sign reading “America’s Already Great.”
It didn’t take long for the glowering people around me to take issue with my sign. A nasal voice behind me told me to put down my sign or else.
I turned to ask the voice’s source, a balding, fat man older than my father, if he disagreed with my sign—which again, contended that America is already a great country.
“You think America’s not great?” I asked. “You think I should hurt you?” he responded.
WATCH: Trump supporters rip up sign of Kiernan Majerus-Collins and friend at Lowell, MA rally.
Things went downhill from there.
Another man, who could have been the goatee-clad brother of my first critic, told me “You’re at a Trump rally? Ditch those,” referring to my sign. “Do you disagree with this?” I shot back. “Yeah. Ditch ’em,” he responded, and at that moment, both of the men grabbed for my sign and tore it up.
The crowd around me began to loudly call for my removal, which was shortly accomplished (although not before the first man hit me on the head and tried to grab me).
The next day, a video of the encounter shot by a friend of mine who’d accompanied me, went viral, and in the days since I’ve become even more familiar with the special brand of thuggery and intimidation Trump’s supporters practice.
My family and I received death threats, and messages poured in calling me every name in the book (although typically, the names were misspelled).
If this was an isolated incident, it would be awful, but it wouldn’t have any greater meaning.
But I’m sad to say my experience is part of a pattern.
Trump is running a campaign fueled by the anger of poorly educated, racist white people, the kind of people who love to criticize “PC culture,” but became offended to the point of violence when I held a sign asserting that ours is a great country.
And as Trump soars in the polls, these people are becoming emboldened. The billionaire blowhard has convinced millions of Americans that not only is their bigoted hatred of Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans and others justified, but that it is the key to making America “great again,” as if it wasn’t great already.
It’s possible that Trump’s fall, so long awaited, will finally come. I certainly hope so. But Trump’s political demise will not undo the damage he has done to our politics, or to America’s reputation in the world.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
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UPDATE- 1:04 AM EST 2-15-2016
Accusations of corruption in student government at the University of Florida are being put out in the open by a prominent UF student activist who previously helped to perpetuate a notorious secret society on campus.
Sabrina Philipp, a senior at UF was featured in a video detailing her experiences as a leading member of the “system”, a secret organization that helps Greek affiliated students move up in student government and influences actions taken by it.
The “system” is connected to the Florida Blue Key, a prestigious leadership honorary group that operates as a secret society that helps direct student government from the shadows, according to some students.
The UF student newspapers published a detailed expose into the way Florida Blue Key operates in 2012.
“For students aspiring to hold public office one day, the path seems simple.
Go to UF. Get involved in Student Government. Get tapped to join Florida Blue Key. Make the right connections.
Even students who have no taste for politics yearn to join the prestigious honor society that boasts alumni like former senator and Gov. Bob Graham and current U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.”
According to Not My System, the group that published Philipp’s video on Facebook, “the system” is made up of three different blocs: a political bloc, social bloc, and third bloc.
“Each is led by a bloc leader that represents the interests of various Greek organizations, communicated to them through their house leaders,” Not My System explains on its FB page. “Through massive Greek mobilization and voter suppression, the System has been able to control Student Government at the University of Florida for decades. This System is damaging to everyone involved except for its elite. Students are not given the opportunity to pursue positions based on their merit, but rather must rest on their laurels.”
Despite attempts to expose the “system” in recent years, many have still denied its very existence.
But Philipp’s video could prove to be an important moment at UF.
This all comes on the eve of student government elections taking place this week in Gainesville, with the next Student Body President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and 50 senators up for election.
The “system” has drawn comparisons to “The Machine” at the University of Alabama and other secret student organizations that sometimes try to influence college politics.
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