Stop building a mountain of the dead

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Good morning:

Searching Mind inspired this post from an old and tired voice for the damned.

Let him who is without sin hurl the first stone.

Your passionate voice for simple nonjudgmental human decency does not go unheard,

as the inexorable tinkering with the machinery of death continues

in this latest sad chapter,


She does not fit,

She is mentally ill, abhorred and damned,

but not legally insane.

Vengeance serves no relief to anyone.

A mouth full of sawdust cannot spit out the venom from a fresh kill.

No satisfaction will be found today

in the halls of the Maricopa County Courthouse.


emptiness shall reign

as it always has and always will,


Until at last

people listen

and stop building

a mountain of the dead.


77 Responses to Stop building a mountain of the dead

  1. The jury ended the day still deadlocked. The judge sent them home.

    They will resume deliberations tomorrow morning.

    • SearchingMind says:

      Oh, thanks Professor for the update. This is the BEST news of the day. I very much hope Jodi gets a 25 to life sentence. She will be about 70yrs old if and when she gets out of prison. I know I am in the minority on this one. After a little over a year on the job, I have been infected with the lawyer’s/doctor’s disease: saving lives (including those of the undesirables of our society), learned to be in the minority and fight on even when all appears to have been lost.

      (What aussie said above on May 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm
      shows how irresponsible our penal system is. For a few grams of coke (and I have never seen one in my life – yet) the government can destroy a young individual’s life by imposing up to double digit sentence. I just find it horrendous.)

      • It is horrendous.

        I passed up several opportunities to be a judge because I could not and would not sentence anyone to death or nonviolent drug offenders to minimum mandatory prison sentences.

  2. The jury announced today that it’s hung.

    Judge told them to keep trying.

    If they can’t reach a verdict, the jury will be dismissed and a new jury will be chosen.

    If that jury can’t reach a verdict, the judge will impose the sentence, choosing between life without parole or life with parole eligibility after serving 25 years.

    [I was mistaken earlier when I said a hung jury would automatically result in LWOP]

    Hang on to your hats.

  3. silk says:

    She is simply a cold. Blooded killer. Fogen is a coward! Seeking opportunity

  4. Two sides to a story says:

    Oh, I forgot to say what a lovely and moving poem. Evocative.

  5. cielo62 says:

    >^..^< "sin" is a religious concept. A society has a duty to its citizens to safeguard them. Otherwise we'd do away with prisons as well.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Sin simply means error but the term has been hijacked by the fire and brimstone set.

  6. KA says:

    There is a case in CO of Nathan Dunlap shooting 5 people at a Chucky Cheese over 15 years ago. He was due to be executed in August of this year and our Governor granted a temporary reprieve for him yesterday. This was one of the statements by one of the victims parents:

    “This is a cold-blooded killer. He planned it and he executed it and now, 19 years later, he still hasn’t paid for it. That’s just wrong,” Rogers said last week.

    The bar has been set so high on society that anything short of a full execution is “not paying for it”.

    This is the issue of a legal death penalty. Anything less than the extreme is unacceptable.

    • KA says:

      Here an article in a local magazine that outlines his mental disorder, family, history of mental disorders, his background (in and out of foster care, juvenile home, unconcerned social workers, abuse/neglect), and his “episodes that has been documented previous indications of mental illness”.

      He was sentenced to death because it was believed at the time that children could not develop bipolar disorder. It is now a approved diagnosis for many children.

      If we want revenge for our loved ones, we will justify any means (ie charges that he “faking” mental illness) to allow our revenge to be carried out. Anything less seems defeat.,6

    • aussie says:

      When people can get 10 years for a small bag of weed, or 25 years for firing a gun as a warning to an attacker, there’s really not a lot of “extra” to give a murderer except the death penalty. That a warning shot is worth as much as an actual killing?

      All penalties should come down, so people would be in for shorter times, so it would be worth rehabilitating them as they’d have years to live when they come out. Then the really long sentences could be reserved for the really truly worst crimes. But no death penalty.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      I don’t understand what people don’t understand about how giving up one’s life to sit in a concrete and metal room isn’t paying for it.

      I’m afraid they will also pay a price for their refusal to forgive and let go of their anger. At some point you must.

  7. Xena says:

    It’s 1:54 p.m. CST, and the court has called in the media, Travis’ family, and the attorneys. They are now waiting for Jodi and the judge.

  8. silk says:

    Jodi is indeed mentally touched. Judging by the death marks on the Victim ,it would Be safe to say that she seemed to enjoy the killing. Loved it. If spared ,she will kill again. Its almost like cannibalism in its earlier stage.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      It looks more like rage triggered by a particular relationship to me.

    • nancybenefiel says:

      Jodi Arias is unlikely to be free to kill again. Life in prison will prevent any chance of that. Giving the government the role of deciding life or death cheapens all of us. When I was a grad student I wrote a paper on the argument that the purpose of law was to prevent the incredible disruption to society caused by never ending vendettas. No too long ago I read an article about how the vendetta was making most male Albanians prisoners in their homes. Women were not considered acceptable victims, so they are going out and working the land and the farms.

  9. Malisha says:

    There was a Greek film entitled “Your Neighbor’s Son” made after the downfall of the “Reign of the Colonels” and a torturer was interviewed, before being hung. Asked why he consented to do the interview, he said, “I want to tell people what is needed to make a monster.” His father was then interviewed and he said, “I am your neighbor. We are not people different from anybody else. I am your neighbor; he is your neighbor’s son.”

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Just like we are all Trayvon Martin or Travis Alexander, we are all also Fogen and Jodi.

      • cielo62 says:

        Two Sides: I vehemently disagree that we can be murderers. I will never be like GZ or Jodi. I might be under extreme emotional duress but I will never cross that line because it is wrong and I will go to jail. It’s very simple.

        Sent from my iPod

  10. she immediately set up several interviews, yes demanding makeup.

    I watched this trial and she really is a liar and manipulator. I don’t believe she’ll ever be punished enough.

    Ever since I’ve been coming here and knowing Prof was a defense attorney, being intimately/personally involved in trying to save someone from the death penalty, I’ve always thought that those relationships had to effect his belief. And if I were to meet someone after they’ve committed a murder, and the victim was pretty much a non-issue by this point, I’d probably be against it too.

    I also realize many other people here are against the death penalty. but I would like to ask this question; of those here who are against death penalty how many of you have had a parent or family member murdered?

    ps. I’m truly not trying to get anyone defensive or angry because I can understand both sides, and I think everyone’s different experiences in their own life had to have formed their belief either way.

    • looneydoone says:

      Yes, I’ve had a close family member murdered
      and I am unwavering in my opposition to the death penalty

      • looneydoone says:

        Whoops ! My reply doesn’t read correctly
        This is what I meant to say
        Yes, my husband was murdered
        and I am unwavering in my opposition to the death penalty

      • i have too, my mom was killed by my stepfather, after years of other abuses towards her and my kid brother and i.
        i have always wanted him to be forced to get up and try to defend himself, hopefully feeling helpless and humiliated, and then to be found guilty by 12 total strangers!! personally it would be very cathartic for me to know that other people thought the same way i did, and they would stick up for my mom and not him. that she was the valued one and he was completely worthless wreckless one.

        and then we would get up and tell those strangers exactly what his crime has done to the people left behind and beg them to give him death. i’ve always believed that he shouldn’t benefit from what he did, he should be punished for what he did.
        i feel at this point he lost every basic human right in the same way as his victim. she has lost hers because he stole it. so now the laws should speak on her behalf since she isn’t here.

      • Malisha says:

        I’m very sorry about what happened to your mother. I wish you long life with no more such sorrows ever.

    • Rachael says:

      I have to say that no, I have never had a family member murdered, therefore, I cannot say I know exactly how I would feel. However, I hope I would realize that even in my pain, that killing the other person would not bring my family member back to life, nor would it make them a better person (though I don’t know that anything would at that point being able to take the life of another). I know that I don’t like the idea of spending my tax money to keep them alive and fed, housed, clothed, medical care, etc., when there are those who do not have enough to eat, nowhere to sleep, no clothes or medical care, but taking their life does not fix the problem, thereby ends up being revenge. Until there is a better solution, while not ideal, I don’t want to be a part of state-sanctioned killing.

      • lurker says:

        I am certain that those who experience the murder of a loved one experience anger and rage and a desire for revenge. Yet, we are a country of laws to protect ourselves from acting out such desires.

    • Malisha says:

      I would want to kill anybody who killed my loved-one. OF COURSE! But that is why I would not be on that person’s jury! My GOVERNMENT should have the responsibility not only to keep me from killing someone I believe DESERVES IT but also to prevent others from killing someone I believe doesn’t. My government, that is to say, should be much better than me at managing the kind of negative emotions that naturally result from loss, abuse, sorrow, victimization, etc.

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:


      • KA says:

        Well said. Great point.

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        Just to be clear as to what my “yes” meant:

        First, I would NEVER want to kill someone if they killed a loved one.

        But, there are people out there who become filled with emotional vengeance and that is why I said “yes” to the points in you post, Malisha.

        Also, I worry about the vigilante types in our society who have access to guns. I think that there is always the possibility that vigilante types could choose to hide behind SYG laws.

      • Rachael says:


      • yes, i see your point..
        Ok, maybe if the government had some *program* to assist the living victims deal with the loss, somehow helped them to overcome their grief. i thought about maybe an injection of some chemical that makes the living victim forget their loved one ever existed, or forget the whole truth or the crime…something to take away the pain that’s there forever, maybe there’s some way to help the surviving victim..

        but then what about the murdered victim? there’s no way to help the murdered victim. they will never get their life back because of the perpetrator stole it from them, so the government can never come up with a way to help them.

    • KA says:

      I think I have a little bit different take on it. It has multiple parts, so I hope I convey this fully…

      First is the death is cried out, because it is the ultimate legal option. If it were not a legal option, then those who call for death, would call out for life without parole. Life in prison with no hope of release is also a pretty significant consequence which constitutes a very miserable life without choices.If it was our ultimate punishment under law, then that would be the consequence that was “advocated” by the victims family, not death row. I hoe this makes sense as a larger, overarching principal.

      The second is a personal believe that hurt people, hurt people.

      I saw a statistic this week that claims that 80% of males and 67% of females that are alumni and have “aged” out of the foster care system in the US will likely be arrested and convicted of a crime. Of those, 50% will likely end up in prison. I know why. The system (regardless of state) is not set up to promote success in a foster child, but rather set up for fat tracking, cost reduction, and the “minimum” of what can barely meet a need legally. In that system ( or any system hitting human services), our “bare minimum” does not, in fact, care for a single need. Children become adults who only know a rudimentary level of survival and have a limited knowledge (if any at all) to feel or live compassionately. It is obvious by the figures that they commit a lot of crimes.

      On the other side of human welfare services, there are people who can hurt children emotionally, physically, sexually and never face a consequence or feel a repercussion. I bet my salary that those that are committing murders such as Jodi did had something or somethings happen to them that is out in the open, or hidden. We do not know another’s story, how can we make a decision to end their life? Should they get out “Scot free”? No, of course not, life in prison with no parole should be the penalty for Jodi. That is no where near to “Scot Free”.

      I suspect if we looked in her head and got a glimpse of her childhood, we may not be so sure she is “evil” and worthy of death.

      • KA says:

        Looking over the message I didn’t convey exactly what I meant, but I wanted to add that if the death penalty is not the choice of the jury, it will be like the State and family “lost” and she was not punished appropriately and basically “got away” with her crime.

        It is an scary gamble….if she dies, their loved one doesn’t come back and they still “lost”. If she gets life in prison…their loved one does not come back and the killer “got away with it” and tall is “lost”.

        There is no peace either way because the extreme of the one side of the bar is the only measure for “winning” in their minds. They do not realize right now that there is no “win” here.

      • Jodi had a privileged childhood in every aspect. she was loved and adored and lived with both parents, had music lessons, traveled, education, she also had the luxury of an extended family as in grandparents, aunts and uncles.
        i’d say that’s pretty much the ideal kind of upbringing everyone would want.
        she was never sexually or emotionally or physically abused. she tried to assert getting spanked with a wooded spoon was the
        * abuse* she suffered, but of course the jury rejected it.

        So what i think happened, was because of her privileged childhood, i think she actually twisted it in a way to justify her actions during her life. she decided since she’s used to getting everything she wanted, she should be entitled to take anything she wants.

      • KA says:

        I can honestly say, a privileged childhood is 1) not always what it seems on the surface and 2) many times as abusive as an abused one. Privileged means a lot of things, and most are not typically positive (regardless of what society deems it to be).

        I am in my forth adoption right now and have been a 20 year advocate for child abuse prevention and adoption and can say without hesitation, that there is something there that is very wrong and may be hidden and yet unaccounted for. The way she carried on in the relationship was indicative of some sort of abuse that was experienced.

        It is just like GZ. I believe his family has some serious emotional issues and trauma that ingrained itself into a personality disorder I believe that allowed a lack of ability to cope in a “real” world with tolerance and patience, as well as a very abnormal, dangerous perception of a “cast system” of life. Does he deserve his punishment (in this case at least 20 years in prison)?


        But I also suspect his issues go way back to childhood and a very wrong set of values that were imparted and childhood experiences that cemented them.

        No one sexually abuses at 8 years old and dominates their cousin without an abusive response that was cultivated or shown previously.

        I do not believe people are “born murderers”.

      • KA says:

        And the “wooden spoon” is not really the determinant of abuse…it is WHY the “wooden spoon” was used.

        I have a child that was adopted that did not have significant physical or sexual abuse, but has complex trauma (significant) over the way he was treated in comparison to siblings. It created a internal thermometer that makes him steal and lie at every chance he has, even when he could ask and obtain what he wants. He does that because, even though he has been in a safe environment for many years now, he still lives and breathes by his internal thermometer of unequal emotional treatment in his birth family that he went through from birth to about 5 years ago (about half his current 11 year old life).

        I was talking about this to someone the other day who was a “favorite” child in her family. We agreed that it is as abusive as the one that was the “least favorite”.

        It is very true that “injustice for some is actually injustice for all.”

      • KA says:

        Some children (now adults) can go through the most horrific physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse and still live a solid life, make good decisions, and feel empathy and connection to others. Other children (turned adults), can be the victims of emotional inequity and never experience sexual or physical abuse and take those “slights” so deep that they live their lives in defeat, unable to effectively connect with others.

        I wish there was a formula for it, but in every case I have seen over the years of children either in care, or not in care, the abuse is varied and personal.

        It is why foster children have the odds against them. So many have no one to advocate for their care or take a personal interest in their lives to help them resolve the pain, whatever cased it.

      • KA says:

        I think she killed him out of extreme jealously and neediness.

        That, in itself, would not be indicative of a well nourished childhood. It actually means she has lost before deeply, and had an completely irrational and paranoid fear of “losing” again.

      • i watched this trial from start to finish and of course being on the outside i also saw all the things the jury did not.

        my opinion is that she does have a personality disorder. but certainly not because of any abuse or neglect she ever suffered.. and she lied about the wooden spoon, she exaggerates and blatantly lies about anything to make herself the victim.

        she also intentionally hit her *beloved* brother in the head with a baseball bat when they were kids. she also says she kicked their dog for getting in the trash and dragging dirty diapers all over the yard. she also said the dog ran off and never saw the dog again. but a second beforehand said the dog was tied to a lead. so how does the dog run off if he’s tied up? my belief is she either made the story up or she killed him, and that’s why she never saw him again.

        she’s a manipulator. she’s a liar. she’s a user. and she’ll walk on anyone she knows to get what she wants, including her own family. she reminds me of casey Anthony.

        but i also do not believe there’s any evidence of abuse in her childhood. and i agree with those statistics you cited. and i could in another case indeed see where you could believe that some sort of abuse as a contributor to her behavior.
        but coming from a personal background of abuse and witness of abuse on others, i also have another unique perception to base my judgment.

        as my siblings and i grew up i saw and live with the affect childhood abuse has. and there are lots of those above mentioned *symptoms* that i can point to in at least one of our lives and say this is because of that.. so i know there are lots of evidence to support it.

        and i have no idea what you think i said about her childhood that could be considered by anyone in the world, as a less than ideal childhood? what do think could be more privileged about what i said? i didn’t say the privilege was a financial one, as if she was a rich kid. instead i basically said she her childhood was *rich* in love and comfort of a pretty decent family environment.

        but i thoroughly disagree that only the abused or neglected are the murderers of society. that’s absolutely false. i agree that it’s probably the case in most of the murderers, but not all. and i think this case is a pretty good example of that.

        as for your contention that the relationship between her and Travis as some evidence of an abusive childhood, i just don’t agree. i believe the ending of it was so contentious because of her cruelty and wish to control him. but it could’ve been him or any other guy she met.

        “I think she killed him out of extreme jealously and neediness.

        That, in itself, would not be indicative of a well nourished childhood. It actually means she has lost before deeply, and had an completely irrational and paranoid fear of “losing” again?”

        oh and i totally agree with you about the reasons she killed him.
        but i don’t think her jealously and neediness are necessarily indicative of an abusive childhood. plus there’s plenty of evidence she had a fine childhood and absolutely zero of a bad one.
        and we know people coming from a normal childhood have problems coping with social or emotional issues all the time. and then there’s people who actually did have a completely miserable childhood, for example something like Travis’s early childhood, but who grow up to have strong positive coping skills and become well adjusted, successful adults.

      • Malisha says:

        “I and the public know
        What all schoolchildren learn,
        Those to whom evil is done
        Do evil in return.”

        W. H. Auden.

        Of course, it’s not fair. Those (Jodi Arias or not Jodi Arias, Fogen or not Fogen, whoever) to whom evil is done were NOT done the evil by the victims of the evil they, in return, will do.

        The “return” is not returned to the persons who have done the evil. And they and they and they and they and they all the way back to the what-or-who-ever did some primordial evil, from the “first syllable of recorded time” or time not ever recorded…who knows?

        Trayvon Martin did not damage Fogen’s fragile incompetent ego so as to make him both nonsensically infuriated and depraved on 2/26/2012. It was not Trayvon’s fault Fogen could not pay his rent or buy groceries, or for that matter convince Shellie to go ahead and have a baby for him, giving him some family status he craved. None of these “wrongs” were perpetrated by Trayvon and none of the “returns” of any evil day should have fallen on Trayvon’s doorstep. But it is the job of our society (and I fear we will not do our job) to not only provide a backdrop within which Trayvon’s mourners (ourselves here included) can recover some equanimity AND provide a platform from which we, the mourners and the non-mourners, can correct the dysfunctional moral compass of Trayvon’s still enraged killer.

        Actually I think I would feel personally gratified if death were to take Fogen now but I am sure I would feel permanently and irremediably horrified if the State of Florida were to kill him. It would just go to show that everything can always come out totally wrong with no possibility of any remission.

        The fact that our society resisted even NAMING the killing of Trayvon Martin as a “WRONG” for over five weeks is a sign of how sick we have been. A massive systemic nausea had to retch through our collective consciousness to even get us to address this toxic thing: now let us try to deal with it with a measure of proper remedial action rather than just more and more disgusting upheavals.

    • I have not but Crane Station has lost a family member to a murder.

      The victim’s suffering was never a non-issue to me, especially when it was a child.

      To be an effective advocate for your client in a death case, you have to embrace and know the whole case, and that includes the harm the client caused.

      • Prof.,I’m sorry that i intimated the victim was a non-issue, especially in your case because i happen to know for fact that you are deeply empathetic to crime victims. ( my proof is the advocacy you’re doing everyday sticking up for Trayvon here)that seemed like a personal assault to you and i really don’t mean to say that to you!

        what i’m trying to say i think is if a lawyer is against the death penalty in any case, their mission is to save their defendant from death, their objective is to do whatever it takes to help their client and not the murdered victim. and to me that’s when the law has basically switched sides and is now there to fight for the criminal’s rights.

        and as a person you’ve developed a kinda relationship with them, you have to feel empathy towards them because now they seem vulnerable to what you perceive as having a injustice happen to them. therefor i can see someone having an opposition to the death penalty. it’s in this phase it’s all about the defendant.

    • I had a friend who was shot and killed by her husband. He was charged with murder. His family bankrupted itself hiring lawyers, eventually he got it plead down. Her family got the daughter. He was released after a few years. He had joined AA. He went back to school and went into some kind of medical profession and has (last I heard) spent most of his life working for free clinics and that kind of thing. I admit I lost track of him about 10 years after it happened. I’ve known 9 people killed by guns in my life. All of the guns were “for protection”, not one of the people I knew was killed by a stranger.

    • I have. Yup. I cannot reread this article, but I will put the link here: It is too painful for me or any of us today even, and this happened in ’85, when we lost him. The girl’s mother died of a broken heart on Christmas eve the following year. The murder is unsolved. To be blunt, at the time, we didn’t want the state to have the joy of killing the murderer because we wanted to kill him ourselves, whoever it was. That’s how incredibly painful it was.

      I/we want him back, goddammit. And nothing in the world can do that. I can tell you only our experience: five years into the agony was nothing. None of us were at the point at a mere 5 years, of being spared a minute in the day not thinking about it. My heart goes out to this family.

      That said, knowing what I know now about our really messed up legal system, I cannot support the death penalty, and also since that time, I have rejected it on philosophical grounds: It will not accomplish any goal. It will not bring him back and so, nothing will be fixed. If we found the murderer, and members within my own family may disagree, that’s how screwed up things get when there is a murder, I would want the person in prison forever, but not have a hand in another killing. That’s only me. Just one opinion.

      • Trained Observer says:

        I remember this awful story (have family in Kokomo), but didn’t realize it had never been solved. Time for some cold case scrutiny.

      • Trained Observer says:

        Well, my condolences to all of you for this loss of two innocent young people … that will not end for either family, no matter what evidence eventually turns up.

      • Two sides to a story says:

        So sorry, Crane. What a dreadful sorrow.

        I too lost a young cousin in a murder during a drug deal gone bad. Both parties were armed and my cousin was shot in the back after having words with someone at the front door of a house, but had turned away to leave. The killer only got 11 months despite having some sort of priors and despite the entry wound in the back.

        What was saddest thing for me was the attitudes of many family members that my cousin had it coming because of his behavior. Yes. And no. It was still a murder and very painful for his immediate family. His sister caught a lot of blame from her mother because she felt the sister had influenced her younger brother to get high – I hadn’t had contact with either of them much at that time but knew both well as younger children growing up in the Midwest – both were good kids. They attended jr high and HS in an urban LA environment that was pretty rough and in a very druggy era of the late 70s.

        Like Trayvon, my cousin was shot through the heart. Yes, you do live for a bit even so – he ran from the doorstep to the street to his vehicle before he collapsed. I’m not certain of that distance. I believe he turned away because though he carried a weapon he was unable to follow through to use it. I don’t think he was really a particularly violent person but wanted to appear cool and tough.

        I also had a great uncle murder his family and kill himself. I’ve had friends lose their children to gun suicides, one in a particularly gruesome way with a shotgun. I’ve not known but one example of a private gun owner actually repelling a crime, and have witneesed far more instances of avoidable tragedies.

        • This painful stuff, there are no words. No one ever ‘gets over’ anything. I know you understand, I don’t even have to say it. But what I don’t get at all is 11 months for a murder. With priors? How did this even happen?

  11. IMHO, the death penalty deserves no space in a decent society. It prevents no deaths. It brings no one back to life. It simply feeds the lowest common denominator, revenge. It is interesting that those countries that still practice the killing of convicted killers have some of the highest murder rates on the planet.

  12. lurker says:

    I have not followed the Arias trial. However, I agree with what you are saying. While there are some cases that tug at me to give up my opposition to the death penalty, and others where I would decline to put up much fight were I in a position to do so, putting to someone to death garners neither closure for the family, nor greater justice for society as a whole.

    I saw just enough of the testimony yesterday to agree that this particular defendent, however unattractive her particular defenses might be, is not all right. Nor was the kid who shot up Chardon High School, nor even the newly arrested animal running a prison cum harem on Cleveland’s West Side. And clearly the Aurora shooter is clinically disturbed–however he might fit into the legal definitions of sanity/insanity.

    I do believe that those of us who oppose the death penalty are going to have to find ways to raise our voices for even these most ugly of killers–not for their sake, but for our own and that of the greater society. There are clearly some people we have no idea how to fix and can never risk putting in contact with human life in any setting. Jeffrey Dahmer comes to mind. We should be committed to lifelong incarceration and make use of the opportunity to learn from them whatever we can about the workings of their minds.

    The relative cost of life imprisonment vs implementation of the death penalty ought to be persuasive to those who cannot find moral grounds for not putting people to death.

    And I also harken back to a quick comment you made yesterday or the day before. Not only are our prisons poorly equipped to respond to mental illness, but we use the criminal justice system increasingly and in fact systematically as proxy treatment for those with mental/emotion issues (not to mention simple learning disabilities)–particularly those who are male and come from low-income backgrounds. We really need to bring this situation into the light of science and sociology.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Sadly those amazing costs were not enough for the voters of California to back out of the death penalty in 2012 – over four billion dollars for only 13 executions since 1978. Cost won’t likely be enough for Arizona any time soon either. Or Texas.

      And the greater cost, I think , lies in being part of a society that engages in the same violence that brought the perpetrators to the death chamber. State sanctioned murder is little more than violent revenge and neither solves the problems of violence and mental health nor brings families of murder victims any closure.

      I’d like to ask an uncomfortable question – why does the family of Travis Alexander have so much anger five years after his murder that they think executing Jodi Arias will make them feel any better? Isn’t it time to create some closure by forgiving her and moving on? Almost without exception, families of murder victims whose murderers who go to death row or are executed admit that this did not provide them the peace they thought they would find . . .

      We’re all dead men walking. There’s a certain absurdity in thinking that dispatching anyone before their natural death makes anyone safer or teaches anyone a lesson. The transformational lessons learned about life and violence are absorbed by living and reflection about that living.

      • Rachael says:

        I love this post TSTAS

      • “I’d like to ask an uncomfortable question – why does the family of Travis Alexander have so much anger five years after his murder that they think executing Jodi Arias will make them feel any better? Isn’t it time to create some closure by forgiving her and moving on? ”

        my question is below,
        but what they went through before and at trial was outrageous. his family listened to what she said about their family member, and knew she lied. she completely smeared him over and over again with all kinds of accusations, none of which were even close to substantiated. she even went as far as attack him in the WORST possible way by calling him a pedophile with ZERO evidence.
        so in my opinion, to ask as if they some how shouldn’t be so angry to want her dead is trying to again dismiss their loss and the suffering they will endure for the rest of their life.

      • amsterdam1234 says:

        Sadly those amazing costs were not enough for the voters of California to back out of the death penalty in 2012 – over four billion dollars for only 13 executions since 1978

        That is perverse.

        I wish we could discuss the death penalty without referring to specific cases. I find the randomness of how it is applied as abhorrent as the punishment itself. State sanctioned murder is a barbaric practice. Ending that practice has nothing to do with the individual cases. Whether Jodi was a victim herself or a merciless murderer shoudn’t matter. Nobody should be executed by the State.

    • You all have thoughtful comments says:


      Thanks for your thoughtful post.

      I could not serve on a jury that would be required to consider the
      death penalty.

      And, yet, when I think of the Nuremberg trial, I think the verdict for hanging was correct. I was not upset when Timothy McVeigh was executed for the Oklahoma City bombing.

      On the other side, it is scary to think of the people who should never have been on death row because they were later proven innocent through dna analysis.

      I have no problem with life imprisonment without parole.

      I am grateful that we have LE (police, military, etc) to protect us from would-be killers (individual or groups), and yet I am also moved by these two songs:

    • You all have thoughtful comments says:

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        And, yet, it is VERY important to say it was GOOD that we had an excellent military (my dad included) so that we were able to defeat Hitler and his evil.

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        If you watch and listen to this “Universal Soldier” video, you will see soldiers from many different countries.

      • lurker says:

        I have never been asked to serve on a jury with death specifications, but it has been some time since I made peace with the possibility. My thinking is this. My responsibility for such outcomes is in no way lessened because I do not sit on the individual jury, prepare the lethal injection or otherwise positively participate. We are responsible for our system of laws. While I believe that I could hold this in mind, even if that system were to require the implementation of the death penalty, I might also hope to bring an understanding of what such a penalty does and does not accomplish.

        Unless and until we succeed in changing the laws, I believe that those of us who oppose the death penalty on principle must be willing, should the opportunity present itself, to serve on on juries faced with such decisions–even if it means taking an active role in enforcing a law with which we disagree.

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:

        I wish that the video for Universal Soldier above did not have that Red soldier as its “title” picture……..maybe, you should remove it, Professor.

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:


        I could not serve on a jury that would be required to consider the death penalty.

        However, you are bring up some good points that I need to consider and perhaps learn from.

        Would you talk to me more about your thinking?

      • You all have thoughtful comments says:


        I have to admit another problem I have. I think I would be too scared to look at pictures of the murder victim if I were on the jury. I would want to close my eyes.

        It took me over a month to look at Trayvon’s autopsy report. But,
        I finally realized that I had to if I was going to understand the evidence and advocate justice for Trayvon. (At first, it was even hard for me to look at the generic line drawing of a person marked by the ME to indicate Trayvon’s chest wound.)

  13. Rachael says:

    Was just watching GMA this morning and ABC did an interview with her yesterday after court. They said she was worried about her hair, her makeup, her wardrobe, everything but her possibility of death. They said it might be one of the last interviews if she is sentenced to death because if she is, she will be transferred to death row almost immediately after and there there are no lights, cameras or interviews – “which may be the ultimate punishment on Jodi Arias.”

  14. Malisha says:


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