Not hugely a surprise I think?

Dylann Roof sentenced to death for Charleston church shooting

I tend to think he’s nuts myself and therefore not responsible but that’s based rather on the idea that going and shooting 9 people because of their skin colour is nuts.

Which isn’t quite how it works I’m aware.

38 thoughts on “Not hugely a surprise I think?”

  1. Nuts or not, and I know some people here are anti-death-penalty absolutists, but I feel that it should be maintained and reserved for particularly egregious cases like Roof, with multiple victims and no doubt of guilt.

    Not a million miles away from how Japan administers it.

  2. If he was really insane he would have gone to the nearest black neighbourhood and started shooting random people in the street. The fact that he went to a church shows he was more careful about his own life than killing blacks.
    He is unsane, but not insane. Shoot him up!
    I wonder how long he’ll languish on Death Row? At least when we had the death penalty sentence was carried out promptly.

  3. As I understand the comments so far the reason for the death penalty, the only reason offered so date, is because the murderer isn’t worth the cost of incarceration. Well, if cost is the only argument why not just release him? Or is there another argument to support killing him?

  4. The noose for Roof is just.

    SMFS is correct however. His link shows an appalling case–far worse than merely shooting to death–in which of the 4 murderers, only one got a well-deserved death penalty.

  5. Roof’s killings have a 9:1 deaths-to-killers ratio. SMFS’s link has a 1:2 ratio. That might explain the (relative) leniency.

  6. The numbers are more than countered by the appalling atrocities committed on the couple.

    Since expressing racial hatred of white people is openly tolerated by the MSM and the vile Establishment the MSM is the mouthpiece for, it is quite possible that numerous Beaks regard black on white violent crime as less serious than white on black violence. Despite the later being a small fraction of the former.

  7. Whatever works out cheaper: life in the clink or execution.

    The main thing to do is make sure he can’t kill anyone else.

    (It’s clear in his case the death penalty didn’t deter him. I guess nothing would have.)

  8. The justification for the death penalty is

    1) Deterrence effect
    2) The need for a society to seek justice in its ultimate form

    It is uncertain whether the death penalty has a deterrent effect – most studies are contradictory and the bottom line is that we do not have enough data. 2) is a social norm question.

    The reasons not to have the death penalty are

    1) The possibility of miscarriages of justice
    2) The unethical nature of society taking a life, disregarding the possibility of redemption of an individual.

    I tend to think 1) is a problem and would side with 2) for why the death penalty is undesirable. Others clearly believe in different social norms.

  9. Theo

    Thank you. However, I have a friend who works, rather euphemistically as a mental health nurse. In reality he is a guard for, amongst others, Iain Brady. Brady wants to die. He places no value on life, his or anyone else’s. He is being force fed. Staying alive is agony for him. Harold Shipman commited suicide rather than face his sentence, his last expression of ‘power’. Fred West did the same, probably for the same reason. Little capsules for Nazi leaders?
    Where is the justice in confirming their world view for them? And where is the deterrent?

  10. Oh, and he is clearly “mad” but not in the sense of a M’naghten defence.

    at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from a disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong. (Queen v. M’Naghten, 8 Eng. Rep. 718 [1843])

  11. If all of the murderers you name Ironman were so against living why didn’t they die fighting when the cops arrived. Easier for the Yanks with firepower but Shipman could have carried half a dozen lethal syringes in his pocket at all times for example.

    If you give and let them arrest you–esp when you have time to ensure your lethality-you aren’t looking to die. Or you would have.

    Brady is old and clapped out. If he is suffering now he has had decades when he wasn’t –apart from the loss of his liberty.

  12. @ken,

    the problem with assessing the deterrent effect of a death penalty is that we don’t know how strong the effect is because we can’t count the number of murders that don’t happen because there is one.

    The hangman’s clients are the wrong place to be looking for a deterrent effect – they are going to murder anyway. It’s among those that would have been serving life were the hangman fired. And that is, as everything in social science, notoriously resistant to an experimental approach.

  13. Revealed preferences, conviction for crimes of this level requires trial by jury and a majority or unanimous verdict of guilt. When the ultimate penalty is life imprisonment juries are more likely to convict than if it is death. As long as there is a possible doubt, juries are more likely to give a not guilty verdict when there is no possibility of future release. Therefore dealth penalties give a greater probability of unconvicted murderers wandering free.
    This is completely seperate from the propensity of the state to get it wrong. After all the wrror rare is high in most other activities.

  14. I’m inclined to favour the death penalty on the grounds that incarcerating someone for 30 or 40 years (doesn’t often happen, but it *does* happen) is the more vicious option.

  15. BiG

    The studies look at the rate of change homicides in states that introduce or repeal the death penalty and then execute people and compare it to a control group of states that have not changed their penalty . The problem is that there just isnt enough data to get statistical significance – and it’s very skewed by Texas. The general result is tht economists tend to find significance and death penalty = fewer homicides, lawyers tend to find the opposite.

  16. Theophrastus

    Economists like to believe in rational responses. But the evidence is not really there –

    Does the death penalty save lives? A surge of recent interest in this question has yielded a series of papers purporting to show robust and precise estimates of a substantial deterrent effect of capital punishment. We assess the various approaches that have been used in this literature, testing the robustness of these inferences. Specifically, we start by assessing the time series evidence, comparing the history of executions and homicides in the United States and Canada, and within the United States, between executing and non-executing states. We analyze the effects of the judicial experiments provided by the Furman and Gregg decisions and assess the relationship between execution and homicide rates in state panel data since 1934. We then revisit the existing instrumental variables approaches and assess two recent state-specific execution morartoria. In each case we find that previous inferences of large deterrent effects based upon specific examples, functional forms, control variables, comparison groups, or IV strategies are extremely fragile and even small changes in the specifications yield dramatically different results. The fundamental difficulty is that the death penalty — at least as it has been implemented in the United States — is applied so rarely that the number of homicides that it can plausibly have caused or deterred cannot be reliably disentangled from the large year-to-year changes in the homicide rate caused by other factors. As such, short samples and particular specifications may yield large but spurious correlations. We conclude that existing estimates appear to reflect a small and unrepresentative sample of the estimates that arise from alternative approaches. Sampling from the broader universe of plausible approaches suggests not just “reasonable doubt” about whether there is any deterrent effect of the death penalty, but profound uncertainty — even about its sign.

  17. Personally I’ve always gone along with the jury point above, if it’s a death sentence the likelihood is that burden of proof will be higher as at some point most people are going to be thinking of the consequences of their decision, also those opposed to the death penalty will struggle to avoid deciding guilty unless it is so clear cut the defendant may well have just plead guilty

  18. ken

    I’m more convinced by studies conducted by abolitionists that found a deterrent effect than by meta-studies by abolitionists that conclude that there’s no deterrent effect.

    Deterrence works: dead men can’t kill again because they can’t be released by the bleeding hearts, and the execution of murderers sends an unambiguous signal to potential murderers not to murder.

  19. Ken’s (and others’) appeal to the miscarriage of justice angle is a criticism of the judicial process, not the penalty. If life incarceration is crueller than the death penalty, then it is sadism.

    In my view, if you took for example the Drummer Rigby killers, they shouldn’t even have got to trial, they should have died on the street.

  20. Nessie

    “As long as there is a possible doubt, juries are more likely to give a not guilty verdict when there is no possibility of future release. Therefore dealth penalties give a greater probability of unconvicted murderers wandering free.”

    But abacab answered that at the head of this thread when he said that the death penalty “should be maintained and reserved for particularly egregious cases like Roof, with multiple victims and no doubt of guilt”.

    Your ‘problem’ can be solved with strict protocols: no execution without almost indubitable witness testimony, dna evidence and further corroboration. More if required; but the very presence of the death penalty deters.

  21. @Edward Lud
    I’m inclined to favour the death penalty on the grounds that incarcerating someone for 30 or 40 years (doesn’t often happen, but it *does* happen) is the more vicious option.

    John Stuart Mill made a great (and famous) speech in Parliament making the same point.

  22. @Theo, I believe I’m right in saying that nobody in the US or UK has been wrongly convicted of multiple murders. I could be wrong though. Hence the double point of multiple victims *and* incontournable guilt.

    The death penalty in the case of a single-victim crime on the standard of beyond reasonable doubt falls into the whole possible-miscarriage-of-justice problem.

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    The death penalty didn’t deter Roof.

    If he does waive his appeal rights does that make him insane and therefore not ilegible for the death penalty?

    And if he does go through the appeals process and it takes 10 years is that more expensive than just giving him life means life? What’s the marginal cost of keeping a single prisoner? Food, electricity, clothing? It can’t be much.

  24. abacab
    Yes, I largely agree. However, even in Roof’s case, I would want certain stringent evidence protocols to be met before he was sentenced to death – eg dna and other forensic evidence that he used the weapon, witness testimony, other corroboration. Also, I’m not too concerned about multiple killings: if Roof had killed only one person but had injured a dozen, I still think he should die.

  25. “The death penalty didn’t deter Roof.”

    So what? It deters hundreds of millions of other people.

    Additionally, that the death penalty didn’t deter him is reason to exterminate him.

  26. @Edward Lud

    I assume that is as far back as they could go to get reliable data.


    I’m of the view that death penalty probably does deter homicides. But I am opposed to it on ethical grounds – possibility of redemption, undesirability of the state taking a life. On practical grounds I find the process doubtful.

    I find the Donohue and Wolfers paper convincing insofar as the available data in the US does not support a deterrent effect of the death penalty – there’s just not enough data, too much noise in the available data. All the studies that purport to show a deterrent effect or not relying on US data are imo subject to this criticism.

  27. He could have claimed he was traumatised from birth by the woeful mis-spelling of “Dylan”. In fact he should have done.

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