When it comes to wildfire murder, is capital punishment a deterrent?

When it comes to wildfire murder, is capital punishment a deterrent?

27 October 2016

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USA —  Beaumont mechanic Raymond Lee Oyler is believed to be the first person in the United States convicted of first-degree murder for setting a wildland arson fire.

In 2009, a Riverside County jury found Oyler guilty and a judge sentenced him to death for touching off the 2006 Esperanza fire, which killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters in the San Jacinto Mountains. Oyler is on death row but is appealing the case.

Has Oyler’s conviction and punishment deterred would-be wildland arsonists? Although the number of arson wildfires has decreased significantly in the San Bernardino National Forest since Oyler’s arrest, it’s difficult to say with certainty why more fires haven’t been set.

“You can’t prove a negative,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, who as a deputy district attorney prosecuted Oyler.

There’s no consensus among those who study crime about how much the death penalty deters the most serious offenses. Violent homicides that could merit a death sentence continue.

Rickie Lee Fowler was convicted of murder in August 2012 and sentenced to death five months later for setting the Old fire in San Bernardino County, which a jury ruled caused five people to suffer fatal heart attacks. That fire was set in 2003, three years before Esperanza.

Officials at the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that analyzes issues related to capital punishment, said they have not heard of any subsequent wildland arson death penalty cases.

“I still believe that the death penalty is a deterrent. And to what extent is difficult to determine,” Hestrin said.

The number of arson fires started per month in the San Bernardino National Forest since the Esperanza fire is less than half the number started in the decade before the fire, U.S. Forest Service statistics show. The total number of fires is down only slightly.

Cal Fire statistics on wildland arsons were not available. But Cal Fire Battalion Chief Tim Chavez said arson fires have almost disappeared in the past few years from the San Gorgonio Pass, where prosecutors said Oyler started 23 blazes culminating in the Esperanza fire.

“Vigorous prosecution of the law deters crime, and I think arson would certainly qualify as that. … In law enforcement, we’ve made a statement that we are not going to tolerate these arsonists,” Hestrin said.

Academic studies indicate that the threat of incarceration and prison conditions could be more of a deterrent of all crimes than the death penalty itself.

A 2009 study by the University of Colorado reported that 88 percent of criminologists surveyed said they believe the death penalty is not a deterrent.

Recent real-life examples provide evidence that not all criminals fear the consequences of committing a capital offense.

This month, four law enforcement officers statewide, including two in Palm Springs, have been shot to death.

Three suspects are in custody and could face the death penalty.

Winters have started approaching the northern region of India that also includes Delhi-NCR along with Punjab and Haryana. Due to this, minimums have also started dropping in many parts of North India including Delhi and NCR. In fact, as per the temperatures recorded on October 15 and October 17, the minimums ofDelhi and NCR went down to 17°C.

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As per experts, an increase in the pollution level normally occurs during the winter months. However, there are a few reasons that could enhance the pollution level in Delhi and the adjoining areas. The very first reason that can be attributed to an increase in pollution level in the national capital is crop fires in the neighboring state ofHaryana andPunjab.

These two states lie in northwest proximity of Delhi and normal pattern of winds during this season is northwesterly. These winds drag the smoke and fine particles of the burnt crop and mix them with Delhi’s atmosphere. Moreover, the temperatures also start dipping, therefore, the air near the earth’s surface tends to condense leading to formation of haze.

Whenever the winds are light or calm, these air pollutants get mixed with the haze or mist and forms a blanket of smoke haze which remains suspended for few hours in the mornings. Thereafter, the haze disappears as the sun rises and temperatures increases during the day.


But as the winter progresses in the month of December and January, the duration of haze, mist or fog gets extended and these pollutants remain suspended in the atmosphere for longer duration of time. Other factors including the smoke emitting from vehicles and factories and dust from construction sites also add to the rising pollution levels.

Sometimes this situation can continue for day’s altogether. However, relief is expected only when a strong Western Disturbance gives rain over the region. It is then that these pollutants settle down for a few days.

Another criterion which reduces the pollution levels is the strong and moderate dry winds from northwest or west which carry away these pollution particles. In a nutshell, it can be said that in October, intensity and duration of pollution remain less though increases in November as winters sets in.

– See more at: http://www.skymetweather.com/content/weather-news-and-analysis/delhis-pollution-level-increases-as-winter-approaches/#sthash.FRlJsEib.dpuf

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