Justice For All

Atheists have our own ideas about what is just and what is unjust.  This group will explore the elusive concept of justice.  Topics include racial injustice, death penalty, imprisonment, crime, and other aspects of justice in modern society and in history.  Without gods, what is the basis for justice?  What do humanists and others say about justice?  What do you think about current controversies and cases regarding justice or injustice?

Members: 41
Latest Activity: Dec 9


Troy Davis's photo was chosen as this original icon for this group.  Davis symbolized inequality of justice in the US.  At the time of his execution, 9/21/11, the evidence supporting his conviction was flimsy.  There was known evidence supporting his innocence.  He was executed anyway. Since then the icon is changed to represent justice in general.


There are different nontheist points of view about justice, punishment, penalties, death penalty.   There is strong support for retribution and execution in the theist community (in the US).


What serves as "justice" is not distributed evenly across communities.  The most egregious injustice has strong racial overtones.  If you would like to read about, and discuss justice, what it is, who gets justice, and who doesn't, and stories relevant to this topic, please join and contribute to the discussions.


Resources  factsheet.  main page  executed possibly innocent

amnestyUSA death penalty information

death row population (CNN)  sept 2011.

innocence project.  The innocent and the death penalty.

innocence project Wikipedia discussion

California innocence project

Chicago innocence project

Georgia innocence project


Discussion Forum

On Burying the Torture Report

Started by Bertold Brautigan. Last reply by Daniel W Dec 9. 3 Replies

Black Panic

Started by Daniel W. Last reply by k.h. ky Sep 4. 7 Replies

Environmental Activist Hit Lists

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Grinning Cat Jun 30. 2 Replies

Harsher sentences increase crime

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Luara Jun 27. 4 Replies

Debtors Prison in the US

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Jun 12. 4 Replies

Coal Ash contaminated water jail coverup

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner May 26. 0 Replies

"White Guilt" by Shelby Steele

Started by Luara. Last reply by Luara May 16. 3 Replies

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Comment by Daniel W on July 3, 2012 at 10:44am

Comment by Daniel W on June 10, 2012 at 5:59pm

Joan, I did order "The New Jim Crow" but it will take a while for me to digest it.  My attention span seems to be devolving.  I hope it's not permanent.


Like you, I vacillate on the death penalty.  I have to choose - either accept some incorrect or inappropriate convictions, accept racial disparity in sentencing, accept high societal cost for continuing the death penalty industry, accept the lack of deterrent effect, accept that a society that condones violence, may have more violence, vs. we keep a few monsters alive, in the name of avoiding the other injustices, I'll keep the monsters alive.  I don't think the crime stops with that execution.  I wonder if the execution has a ripple effect of cheapening other life, and making people more self assured in their thoughts, when they shouldn't be. 


I agree with you that suicide is a reasonable choice when someone is faced with unending indignity, unending suffering, imminent death.  In a way, it was nice of Crummell to save us the cost of further maintaining him. 


Thanks for your thoughtful comments Joan.  There aren't a lot of people who think about these things.

Comment by Joan Denoo on June 10, 2012 at 4:09pm

Sentient, thanks for the lead to It looks like a good resource. 

About the death penalty ... I agree, the possibility of the state making a mistake and killing an innocent is just too high a risk for my taste. and yes, there are those who commit such horrible crimes death seems too easy. Alas, the quandary remains. How hard am I willing to fight against the death penalty? Well, it is situational, if there is some shred of doubt, no death penalty until and unless all questions are answered. There are some I would be willing to be the person to administer the deadly dose. I could not do any such thing if there were still a sliver of possibility of innocent. 

Suicide is not a problem for me. An individual can decide that life, as it exists, is too difficult to continue. Of course, the young who take that option make a permanent decision about a temporary situation. But for the elderly or sick or hopelessly trapped, it makes good sense. It means nothing more than stopping, ending, quitting life. There is no hell to fear or heaven to hope for. There is just STOP. END. NOTHING MORE. 

The meaning of life comes up in this topic. In my view, life has no meaning or purpose beyond that which we give it. Others do not share my thinking and probably it makes a big difference in their outlook, even as it relates to the death penalty. 

The thought of a person committing some horrendous crime, found guilty, sentenced to death, and on death row finds religious, repulses  me. If religion enters the scene, the one who is guilty can shed guilt. Now! That, to me, is disgusting. 

What is the saying, "do the crime, do the time". I type this, even as I do believe people can feel real responsibility for doing someone harm. 

As you can see, I am moving back and forth across the line ... No easy answer comes to my mind. 

Comment by Daniel W on June 10, 2012 at 11:09am

A Suicide on Death Row.  68 year old James Lee Crummell was on death row for roughly 8 years.  Unfortunately that story doesn't get into his history, but issues related to death row and Scott Peterson, who was a headline case for many months.  Crummell was convicted of the kidnapping, molestation, and murder of a 13 year old boy.  Crummell was also convicted for the kidnapping and murder of a 9 year old boy, and had a history of molesting young boys, going back to the 60s. 


I takes a fair amount of effort to dredge up the stories beyond shallow headlines and blurbs.  Given the crime that Crummell was convicted of, no one should mourn him, and it's one less murderer to house and protect in the overcrowded prison system.  Cases like this give me pause, and if given a choice I would still support eliminating the death penalty.  But I don't mind that he killed himself.

Comment by Daniel W on June 8, 2012 at 1:55pm

Anne, thanks for posting that quote.  It's enlightening.  I've never understood why we went to war in Iraq.   Oh, it was the WMD.  At least we're safe from those....  Or it was to get cheaper oil.  Well, OK it was the Al Qaeda connection.  Ummmm...  OK, was it just to kill people?

Comment by annet on June 4, 2012 at 4:48pm

Comment by Daniel W on May 31, 2012 at 8:55pm

Joan, I can usually find something on  I don't have much chance to read (tho I seem to have enough time to get on the internet - let's be honest and call it poor attention span), and I need to get my mind off work when driving or going to sleep, so I listen to an audible book.  I often have to listen multiple times because I get distracted or fall asleep, but that's OK.  Since I listen to topics I like, it lets me learn them a lot better.  I get one title per month.  There is a history of slavery (Inhuman Bondage) that I really learned from; a history of Jim Crow (Slavery by another name); a history of food, and a lot of biographies and novels.  I might down load a novel next time.  I usually spend a month thinking about what the next title will be.  Also, each item is a $10.00 "credit" even tho some are priced from a couple of dollars to 20 dollars, so I usually do the more expensive ones with my credit, and if I want a cheaper one I buy it outright.  You can go to the audible site and browse without buying.  

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 31, 2012 at 2:00pm

S.B. Does Audible have a selection of topics that appeal to you. I have been relatively unsuccessful in finding audio and video that suits my interests. Of course, the internet has many options, but one has to hunt to find some obscure piece that is loaded with good, valid, reliable information. Google Alert has been my best resource, even as it gives me far too much information, at least I have a chance to find the obscure. 

Comment by Daniel W on May 31, 2012 at 12:30pm

"The New Jim Crow - mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness".  Each month I get new credits to spend on Audible.  Listening is my main way to read now, although I usually have to listen several times to get the full impact.  This book looks interesting- Im wondering if someone has already read it.  This is from the book description on linked above:  ""Jarvious Cotton's great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.  As the United States celebrates the nation's "triumph over race" with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status--much like their grandparents before them."

Comment by Daniel W on May 15, 2012 at 12:23pm

Now that the media  15-minutes of interest is passed, it will be difficult to follow the Trayvon Martin case until there is a trial.  Feds considering hate crime charge, which could include death penalty if found guilty.  video here.  I wonder - even if he was not conscious of his profiling / phobia, it doesn't mean it's not there.  If subconscious  "black phobia", would that make him less culpable than if conscious?  I think there is a point where there is social responsibility.  The "young black man in a hoodie" scaremongering needs to be debunked regardless of whether Zimmerman stands trial for hate crime.


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