The Water Cooler – Should Arsonists Get the Death Penalty if a Person is Killed During a Fire?

October 16, 2017 12:00 pm · 55 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it.

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday in the noon hour.

Over 40 people have died and dozens are still missing in the recent Northern California wildfires. Although the cause is still under investigation, if arson was the cause, and a suspect (or suspects) is captured, do you think they should get the death penalty?

Talk about it….

Wave October 16, 2017 at 12:04 PM

If PG&E is the cause, the CPUC should penalize them and also reduce our electric and gas rates!!

Michael Langley October 16, 2017 at 12:09 PM

There are many factors involved in the decision of prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Since the facts of a crime are not present, and if they were, the motives and circumstances of the crime are unknown, then the answer has to be presently a “no.”
On line judges seem to call for the death penalty for any infraction of the law. The fact that deaths occur as a result of some felonious action does not mean automatic death sentence.

AnonZ October 16, 2017 at 12:09 PM


The Mamba October 16, 2017 at 12:16 PM

To answer your question, yes – I think PG&E should get 40 death penalty sentences and put to a humane death.

Jojo Potato October 16, 2017 at 12:17 PM

There is no death penalty. Just millions of dollars spent on endless appeals. But I agree with the concept. Very sad how common sense questions are now twisted around and around to become meaningless. Is there a way out?

Cellophane October 16, 2017 at 12:23 PM

Yup, premeditated murder, in my opinion.

Stater of the Obvious October 16, 2017 at 12:28 PM


Did you read my name?

No Thanks October 16, 2017 at 12:28 PM

It’s a moot point in Kalifornia. The death penalty is never carried out anymore…but YES they should.

Dalinian October 16, 2017 at 12:35 PM


Concordejet October 16, 2017 at 12:38 PM

you burned it people were in the building could not survive you get death penalty PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AlwaysBePositive October 16, 2017 at 12:49 PM

No, there is no crime that deserves a death penalty. Until we can show that people who are not guilty do not get convicted, there should be no question of eliminating the death penalty.

Catherine October 16, 2017 at 12:56 PM

The penalty should be harsh, but the death penalty is just too much. Child’s play, you have to wonder who would even consider such a question.

Suzanne October 16, 2017 at 12:58 PM

You bet! And I’m not just saying that because of the recent fires. It’s something I’ve always felt strongly about.

T-Rex October 16, 2017 at 12:59 PM

It’s cheaper to keep someone alive for life without possibility of parole than it is to give the death penalty. Plus they will actually suffer more placing them in prison with the general population and everyone knowing what you committed.

Clayton Squirrel October 16, 2017 at 1:01 PM

When MDUSD schools were closed on Thursday some kids started a fire close to Mt. Diablo Elementary. That was very bad and very dumb but I’m pretty sure that they shouldn’t be put to death.

M October 16, 2017 at 1:06 PM

Ummmm, be positive. Your comment doesn’t make sense.

Venice October 16, 2017 at 1:09 PM

ABP 11,
The vast majority of America disagrees with you. I think that makes you wrong.

Rob October 16, 2017 at 1:15 PM

If a person starts a fire without directly planning on killing someone – and someone dies because of the fire should be put to death…

I also think a person who drives drunk, without directly planning on killing someone – and someone dies because of the drunk driver’s actions – should also be put to death.

erik October 16, 2017 at 1:18 PM

If your answer is “yes” then Google search “Cameron Todd Willingham” and re-evaluate your answer. He was convicted of arson/murder and executed in 2004. Five years later very strong evidence that suggests he was in-fact innocent. The judicial system is imperfect and will, on occasion, execute innocent people. It has happened many times in the past.

If you disagree with this then please explain to me why it acceptable for a modern country to execute innocent people.

Concord74 October 16, 2017 at 1:29 PM

Litiguous people always seek deep pockets! No, contrary to some of the posters, PG&E should not be totally at fault!

But for the question for this lead-in: YES!!

Suzanne October 16, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Neither PG&E nor the kid who started a fire at a school have anything to do with the question. PGE might be negligent but it’s not arson, nor was it premeditative. A kid is not subject to the death penalty, for crying out loud.

Concord Resident October 16, 2017 at 1:36 PM


just a concordian October 16, 2017 at 1:40 PM


You’re right. Prisons are filled with well to do individuals who have truly turned their lives around after making that only one mistake during foolish youth… unless the arsonist is Teddy K’s cellmate

TIFOKCIS October 16, 2017 at 1:40 PM

Yes, of course.

Darwin October 16, 2017 at 1:46 PM


RunnerDope October 16, 2017 at 1:51 PM

“In legal usage throughout the English–speaking world, an act of God is a natural disaster outside human control, such as an earthquake or tsunami, for which no person can be held responsible.”
from Wikipedia.

Blink October 16, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Death penalty seems to be handed out …outside prison walls without a doubt!

Mental food for thought ..

Artimous October 16, 2017 at 2:11 PM


You are correct . Always be positive can be counted upon to beclown herself

FAA October 16, 2017 at 2:15 PM

Sorry, there is no death penalty in CA. It’s called life on death row.

Silva October 16, 2017 at 2:24 PM

I think it should be treated as a capital offense if a person or people lose their lives. One would have to be pretty well disconnected from reality not to understand that serious injury or death are possible outcomes of setting arson fires.

Dorothy October 16, 2017 at 2:30 PM

There really isn’t a death penalty anymore. Make that life in prison without any possibility of parole when convicted of arson that involved anyone’s death. I can’t think of a more horrible to die.

Semper Fi October 16, 2017 at 2:40 PM

Yes unless they are burning pedophiles.

AlwaysBePositive October 16, 2017 at 2:45 PM

@#16 m
Let me clarify. There is no crime that deserves premeditated murder by the government. Until you can guarantee that only guilty people get convicted we should eliminate any chance of the death penalty.
@#17 v
That makes me a part of the minority opinion, it says nothing about who is right and who is wrong.

Former left October 16, 2017 at 2:52 PM

Yes, but if it were up to me , a lot more people would be put to death by firing squad.

You Can't Fix Stupid October 16, 2017 at 2:56 PM

Not in favor of the death penalty in general (too expensive and there is always a risk the person is innocent). I do think that arsonists should be locked up for a very long time, if not for life, if people die as a result of their actions.

I don’t know much about the mind of an arsonist but I’m guessing that mental illness is not easily cured.

King Archie the Invincible October 16, 2017 at 3:13 PM

What’s with the “should”? I thought if someone (victim or perp) dies during the commission of a felony, the culprit(s) is/are guilty of murder, and murder is a capital offense.

WhatThe? October 16, 2017 at 3:24 PM

Death penalty doesn’t work and certainly is not applied fairly so let’s forgot that right at the start.

What’s important to me is whatever penalty the person should get companies like PG&E should face the same. Facts do matter so if PG&E did everything reasonable to prevent a fire and it was an accident then they shouldn’t face criminal charges but would be on the hook for the money. But if you look at the San Bruno explosion that should be up for criminal prosecution. They knew the pipes were old, they knew they were way past due for maintenance and they did nothing.

THE ANIMAL October 16, 2017 at 3:29 PM

HELL YES ,I’ll pay for the bullet, rope, injections, electricity or gas…………

PO'd October 16, 2017 at 3:50 PM

Nobody actually gets the death penalty here, so it’s a non-starter.

Rose October 16, 2017 at 4:09 PM

Some of the hardest questions are always asked on this site, of course there should be a death penalty but not in this state.

lam October 16, 2017 at 5:07 PM

Hell Yes.

Elwood October 16, 2017 at 5:20 PM

Burning at the stake would seem to be appropriate.

Chicken Little October 16, 2017 at 5:57 PM

Yes, if the crime meets all the requirements for first-degree murder with the special circumstances required for the death penalty (which is highly unlikely). Otherwise, no.

Big Tone October 16, 2017 at 6:55 PM

Well, I guess they would eventually die……..of old age

Sam October 16, 2017 at 8:35 PM

They should get the death penalty if even one wild animal dies.

Harry October 16, 2017 at 9:39 PM

yes siree and then burned at the stake

Dr. Jellyfinger October 16, 2017 at 9:50 PM

No…. everyone deserves a chance to live.
Just put the condemned man (naked) in a pit 10′ deep.
Fill it with broken glass.
Tell him if he can dig himself out, he’s free.

Ricardoh October 17, 2017 at 9:32 AM

Arsonist should get the death penalty even if no one is killed.

Judas October 17, 2017 at 1:25 PM

Nope. Life in prison without parole.

Antler October 17, 2017 at 2:35 PM

Let’s have the punishment have a direct correlation to the heinous crime.
Life without parole; no visitors; and compulsory frontline wildfire fighting duty with a three-foot heavy chain connecting his ankles.
Did I leave anything out?

Newellian October 17, 2017 at 2:39 PM

Say it ain’t so! The little privileged Clayton children started a fire? There aren’t any criminals in Clayton!!!!!!!!

Ouch October 17, 2017 at 7:14 PM

Duh. No brainer.
That is why fires are so dangerous; they kill people. Thats a HUGE reason to NOT start fires in the first place

jjshawk October 17, 2017 at 11:01 PM

Yes-kinda, but if, and only if, the arsonist’s actions were premeditated and deliberate. I don’t think being a dumb-ass should be punishable by death, in most cases.

hmmmm October 18, 2017 at 6:31 PM

California doesn’t have the death penalty so it doesn’t matter.

Dr. Jellyfinger October 18, 2017 at 10:25 PM

Oh My God…. Antler said something I can agree with.

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