A Clear Scientific Consensus that the Death Penalty does NOT Deter

Scientists agree, by an overwhelming majority, that the death penalty has no deterrent effect.  They felt the same way over ten years ago, and nothing has changed since then.  States without the death penalty continue to have significantly lower murder rates than those that retain capital punishment.  And the few recent studies purporting to prove a deterrent effect, though getting heavy play in the media, have failed to impress the larger scientific community, which has exposed them as flawed and inconsistent.

The latest issue of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology contains a study by a Sociology professor and a graduate student at the University of Colorado-Boulder (Michael Radelet and Traci Lacock), examining the opinions of leading criminology experts on the deterrence effects of the death penalty. 

The results reveal that most experts do not believe that the death penalty or the carrying out of executions serve as deterrents to murder, nor do they believe that existing empirical research supports the deterrence theory.  In fact, the authors report that 88.2% of respondents do not think that the death penalty deters murder—a level of consensus comparable to the agreement among scientists regarding global climate change. At the same time, only 9.2% of surveyed experts indicated that they believed the death penalty results in a significant drop in murder cases (56.6% completely disagreed with that statement, while 32.9% thought the correlation between capital punishment and lower homicide numbers to be “largely inaccurate”; 1.3% were uncertain). 

The study builds upon previous research, published in 1996, in which the opinions of 67 leading experts in the field of criminology were surveyed.  The most recent study sent the same questions to a new group of experts (a total of 73), among whom were fellows from the American Society of Criminology, as well as award-winning criminology scholars.

A majority of respondents also expressed the opinion that death penalty states don’t have lower homicide rates than states where capital punishment has been abolished.  The authors point to empirical evidence that backs this up — in 2007 murder rates in states that still had the death penalty exceeded those in states that have abolished it by no less than 42%.  More than eighteen percent of surveyed experts went even further and actually expressed the belief that the death penalty leads to a higher rate of murders, something the authors call the ‘brutalization hypothesis.’ 

In addition, a majority of respondents involved in both the 2008 and the 1996 studies believe that “(d)ebates about the death penalty distract Congress and state legislatures from focusing on real solutions to crime problems.”  Overall, the authors conclude that there is no significant difference between the opinions of experts from the 1996 and the 2008 time periods and that “a vast majority of the world’s top criminologists believe that the empirical research has revealed the deterrence hypothesis for a myth.”     

Radelet and Lacock also discuss and point to significant inconsistencies in a number of studies conducted by economists, who have found the death penalty to have a deterrent effect.   These inconsistencies lead them to conclude that “(r)ecent econometric studies, which posit that the death penalty has a marginal deterrent effect beyond that of long-term imprisonment, are so limited or flawed that they have failed to undermine consensus.”

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97 thoughts on “A Clear Scientific Consensus that the Death Penalty does NOT Deter

  1. Yeah, all that may even be true, but the death penalty still makes damn certain they're not going to do it again.

  2. I disagree with Mike here, and those who insult AIUSA on the Obama "torture" campaigns. So far, Reginald Clemons' execution has been stayed in Missouri, but I'm afraid that Roland William Steele is about to be executed in Pennsylvania for murder in spite of his likely stay. How sad for injustice to be done. All I can do now is pray for his soul, along with his family and the families of his murder victims, and for all victims' and death row inmates' families as well, that they may find forgiveness and consolation when they are about to undergo the pain in losing their loved ones to all kinds of murder, even state-sponsored murder. My heart weeps for all of them. May God have mercy on us all. :(

  3. To Mike, who says capital punishment reduces recidivism: never mind that he won't do it again, let's just hope he did it in the first place.

  4. You all seem to hate Amnesty International more than you hate criminals and sinners! I hate it when you insult AIUSA and death row inmates and their families by making baseless claims about executions deterring murderers from killing people again, while ignoring the death penalty's flaws, including costly appeals and risks of executing people who could be innocent! If all your baseless claims keep up, then I'm leaving this blog entry if it is rife with all the insults against AIUSA! May God forgive you, and may God forgive us all! :cry:

  5. Yes ,caroline.

    Like the Oxbow Incident — the darkness beyond the still unending night, the firelit white cowboy lynch posse which still makes its sounds around you here now, the book's final words — "You just hanged 3 innocent men."

    america has been a burden
    of steel & mad death,
    but look, there's a spring wind blowing
    & new grass growing
    in Sand Creek.

  6. Yeah, all that may even be true, but the death penalty still makes damn certain they’re not going to do it again.

  7. Pingback: 3arabawy BookMarx 06/18/2009 (p.m.) at 3arabawy

  8. I disagree with Mike here, and those who insult AIUSA on the Obama “torture” campaigns. So far, Reginald Clemons’ execution has been stayed in Missouri, but I’m afraid that Roland William Steele is about to be executed in Pennsylvania for murder in spite of his likely stay. How sad for injustice to be done. All I can do now is pray for his soul, along with his family and the families of his murder victims, and for all victims’ and death row inmates’ families as well, that they may find forgiveness and consolation when they are about to undergo the pain in losing their loved ones to all kinds of murder, even state-sponsored murder. My heart weeps for all of them. May God have mercy on us all. :(

  9. God's convenant with Noah:

    "I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man"

    "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has made man.lood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man" (Gen. 9:6).

    May God forgive YOU.

  10. To Mike, who says capital punishment reduces recidivism: never mind that he won’t do it again, let’s just hope he did it in the first place.

  11. 100% of “experts” agree. Once executed a convicted murder never kills again.

  12. murders should be executed and they lost there rights when they Decided to kill some one.

  13. You all seem to hate Amnesty International more than you hate criminals and sinners! I hate it when you insult AIUSA and death row inmates and their families by making baseless claims about executions deterring murderers from killing people again, while ignoring the death penalty’s flaws, including costly appeals and risks of executing people who could be innocent! If all your baseless claims keep up, then I’m leaving this blog entry if it is rife with all the insults against AIUSA! May God forgive you, and may God forgive us all! :cry:

  14. Yes ,caroline.

    Like the Oxbow Incident — the darkness beyond the still unending night, the firelit white cowboy lynch posse which still makes its sounds around you here now, the book’s final words — “You just hanged 3 innocent men.”

    america has been a burden
    of steel & mad death,
    but look, there’s a spring wind blowing
    & new grass growing
    in Sand Creek.

  15. God’s convenant with Noah:

    “I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man”

    “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has made man.lood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6).

    May God forgive YOU.

  16. murders should be executed and they lost there rights when they Decided to kill some one.

  17. Whether capital punishment serves as a deterrent or not is debatable, but is only one factor the judicial system should consider.

    Further, as far as the "experts"…it depends on who you ask.

    The U.S. (even with its flaws) is among the best judicial systems in the world. Among the anti-death penalty argueing points is the overwhelming cost of a death penalty case…but that overwhelming cost is the direct result of the rights of the accused and the burden of the state in death penalty cases.

    A.I. has raised serious concerns about INDIVIDUAL cases (Troy Davis comes to mind)….but for those who are without doubt guilty of capital offenses, exhausted all legal appeals, and legally sentenced to death and executed….may God have mercy on there soul…. In layman's terms they got what was coming to them.

  18. Jesus tells his disciples that, "You have heard that it was said, [i]An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.[/i] But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil." But since you death penalty supporters don't want to believe in Jesus' words, then I don't really care. Keep spewing all your insults, baseless claims, and garbage against Amnesty International USA and against the death row inmates and their families for all I care! Shove your pro-death penalty beliefs down our throats until you believe that we are all guilty sinners, criminals and murderers, all deserving to forfeit our rights and all deserving to be executed and to go to hell! I will still oppose the death penalty and continue to reach out to vicims' families and death row inmates families, and pray for the abolition of the faulty death penalty system, and you can't make me change my mind about the death penalty, no matter what you say or do! Goodbye, and may God forgive all of you who hate sinners and criminals. :cry:

  19. Settle down, no one on this whole thread is suggesting YOU are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that you should forfeit your rights and that you deserve to be executed. Those you are advocating for … different story. Good grief.

    You take the fact that there are two sides to this debate (one that happens to disagree with you) SOOO personal.

    Learn to deal with the fact people on both sides of this debate are passionate and the whole world doesn't agree with you or all your views or your religion.

  20. Whether capital punishment serves as a deterrent or not is debatable, but is only one factor the judicial system should consider.

    Further, as far as the “experts”…it depends on who you ask.

    The U.S. (even with its flaws) is among the best judicial systems in the world. Among the anti-death penalty argueing points is the overwhelming cost of a death penalty case…but that overwhelming cost is the direct result of the rights of the accused and the burden of the state in death penalty cases.

    A.I. has raised serious concerns about INDIVIDUAL cases (Troy Davis comes to mind)….but for those who are without doubt guilty of capital offenses, exhausted all legal appeals, and legally sentenced to death and executed….may God have mercy on there soul…. In layman’s terms they got what was coming to them.

  21. Jesus tells his disciples that, “You have heard that it was said, [i]An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.[/i] But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.” But since you death penalty supporters don’t want to believe in Jesus’ words, then I don’t really care. Keep spewing all your insults, baseless claims, and garbage against Amnesty International USA and against the death row inmates and their families for all I care! Shove your pro-death penalty beliefs down our throats until you believe that we are all guilty sinners, criminals and murderers, all deserving to forfeit our rights and all deserving to be executed and to go to hell! I will still oppose the death penalty and continue to reach out to vicims’ families and death row inmates families, and pray for the abolition of the faulty death penalty system, and you can’t make me change my mind about the death penalty, no matter what you say or do! Goodbye, and may God forgive all of you who hate sinners and criminals. :cry:

  22. Settle down, no one on this whole thread is suggesting YOU are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that you should forfeit your rights and that you deserve to be executed. Those you are advocating for … different story. Good grief.

    You take the fact that there are two sides to this debate (one that happens to disagree with you) SOOO personal.

    Learn to deal with the fact people on both sides of this debate are passionate and the whole world doesn’t agree with you or all your views or your religion.

  23. "Capital P" plays with words re Debbie Kearns' argument. When she says "we are all gulty sinners," etc — she's speaking IN GENERAL of the kind of society in which execution as the ONLY answer to murder puts us all.

    Is execution your only answer to violent crime ??

    For how long , & till when ???

    "Cap C" uses the tone of "reason", but the only "reason" we hear is the "Wild West" talk which a dumbed down america never seems to outgrow —- the dyslexic jump – the- gun talk & putdown sneers never heard in any true debate of peers — all we hear is, "he did it & he must pay", or "he had it coming". Any society whose sole answer is this utter dismissal of its own responsibility has already reached its mental limits 2 centuries ago. Are we talking of crime in a vacuum, or of crime only as a social phenomenon peculiar to a particular time & place ? If we suffer the problem together, let's participate as a society together to find plural & pluralistic solutions for crime, doing this in open venues of society where we ourselve can live at ease.

  24. “Capital P” plays with words re Debbie Kearns’ argument. When she says “we are all gulty sinners,” etc — she’s speaking IN GENERAL of the kind of society in which execution as the ONLY answer to murder puts us all.

    Is execution your only answer to violent crime ??

    For how long , & till when ???

    “Cap C” uses the tone of “reason”, but the only “reason” we hear is the “Wild West” talk which a dumbed down america never seems to outgrow —- the dyslexic jump – the- gun talk & putdown sneers never heard in any true debate of peers — all we hear is, “he did it & he must pay”, or “he had it coming”. Any society whose sole answer is this utter dismissal of its own responsibility has already reached its mental limits 2 centuries ago. Are we talking of crime in a vacuum, or of crime only as a social phenomenon peculiar to a particular time & place ? If we suffer the problem together, let’s participate as a society together to find plural & pluralistic solutions for crime, doing this in open venues of society where we ourselve can live at ease.

  25. Execution isn't the ONLY answer…that is why not every single person convicted of murder is sentenced to be executed. There is no hypothetical "vacuum". There are two portions of a trial that results in a conviction. 1. Findings (is the accused Guilty or Not) 2. Sentencing (all matters including extenuation and mitigation are considered…what is an appropriate sentence for the crime convicted). It is hardly a fast track/cookie cutter system you make it out to be.

    The Jurors who sit on the bench, the Judge (in many cases appointed by our elected officials OR elected to the bench themselves), the prosecuting attorney (in many cases appointed by our elected officials OR elected themselves), witnesses, defendants, victims all are members of society and do work together. The Governor (once again a person elected to office by the PEOPLE)

    Practice all the "preemptive" medicine…there will still be capital crime and it must be dealt with. And it is hardly the "Wild West" mentality. 'been awhile since we dun hung someone from the tree in the courtyard lawn. Yeehaw

    Since I apparently misquoted Debbie, let me correct myself…

    No one on this whole thread is suggesting WE ALL are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that WE ALL should forfeit OUR rights and that WE ALL deserve to be executed.

  26. Execution isn’t the ONLY answer…that is why not every single person convicted of murder is sentenced to be executed. There is no hypothetical “vacuum”. There are two portions of a trial that results in a conviction. 1. Findings (is the accused Guilty or Not) 2. Sentencing (all matters including extenuation and mitigation are considered…what is an appropriate sentence for the crime convicted). It is hardly a fast track/cookie cutter system you make it out to be.

    The Jurors who sit on the bench, the Judge (in many cases appointed by our elected officials OR elected to the bench themselves), the prosecuting attorney (in many cases appointed by our elected officials OR elected themselves), witnesses, defendants, victims all are members of society and do work together. The Governor (once again a person elected to office by the PEOPLE)

    Practice all the “preemptive” medicine…there will still be capital crime and it must be dealt with. And it is hardly the “Wild West” mentality. ‘been awhile since we dun hung someone from the tree in the courtyard lawn. Yeehaw

    Since I apparently misquoted Debbie, let me correct myself…

    No one on this whole thread is suggesting WE ALL are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that WE ALL should forfeit OUR rights and that WE ALL deserve to be executed.

  27. Thank you, Capital P — you show us the trial procedure & correctly demand that i not simplify matters here. Timely point, & instantly taken, too.

    You say the U.S. criminal justice system is very good, & the way you describe it,it is fair — it's flaw actually is, this image of the fair & legal system you give us come with the cultural trappings in our collective minds about th[s criminal justice process.

    Today the legal champions of this system THEMSELVES are deeply troubled by the failings which have turned into a crisis, just like your financial crisis & market meltdown. The system isn't working.

    But it IS your system — if you're happy with it you'll defend it to the death — til it crashes exactly like Wall St.

    For us, whatever your choice, it's a win-win situation — if you rectify, it's good for all , if you don't your system defuncts & selfdestructs, even better.

    You put too much stress on the theoretical , on how it all works on paper, dear friend. You keep on referring to elected officials. Elections in america have become criminal spectacles of waste & disinformation.Elected officials get elected by pretending to be tougher on crime than their opponents, & in office they demonstrate their toughness upon the helpless lives & bodies of THE UNWANTED, the undesirables — those they call the "monsters". The humans who've fallen into violence patterns.

    Truly, they have done terrible things –but do we remember how they CAN do these things ?

    Because they are so ordinary & "normal", just like us all.

    They couldn't be stopped until it was too late.

    The fact remains — "they" are "US". Part of the people the courrts & the law are "supposed " to serve, through sickness & health. The system doesn't even serve the law – abiding, let alone the lawbreaker.

    Be that as it may, your officials are elected by 'them"/"us" .

    Like all politics, electoral poitics is vicious. Monstrous egos, uncaring for those thy're supposed to serve, all feeding into an unbroken cycle of careers ove all based on sloganeering for toughness on crime, long as it's not the candidate's.

    Judges are found in collusion with private-run prisons, whose profits depend on more & more prisoners.

    Over 2 MILLION U.S. citizens are now in prison.

    Racism influences death sentence convinctions. Racist police target minorities & migrants ( legal & illegal ) to meet arrest quotas & conviction records.

    Deny all this — it's your system shall pay.

    As for the "Wild West"—- delete those words, & say it like it is. The destruction of the land & all creation across this continent isn't a dead but a living & ongoing history informing all of america's wars abroad & wars within . The criminal justice system is a part of this ongoing violence, a war upon the poor, the sick, and the outcast.

  28. Thank you, Capital P — you show us the trial procedure & correctly demand that i not simplify matters here. Timely point, & instantly taken, too.

    You say the U.S. criminal justice system is very good, & the way you describe it,it is fair — it’s flaw actually is, this image of the fair & legal system you give us come with the cultural trappings in our collective minds about th[s criminal justice process.

    Today the legal champions of this system THEMSELVES are deeply troubled by the failings which have turned into a crisis, just like your financial crisis & market meltdown. The system isn’t working.

    But it IS your system — if you’re happy with it you’ll defend it to the death — til it crashes exactly like Wall St.

    For us, whatever your choice, it’s a win-win situation — if you rectify, it’s good for all , if you don’t your system defuncts & selfdestructs, even better.

    You put too much stress on the theoretical , on how it all works on paper, dear friend. You keep on referring to elected officials. Elections in america have become criminal spectacles of waste & disinformation.Elected officials get elected by pretending to be tougher on crime than their opponents, & in office they demonstrate their toughness upon the helpless lives & bodies of THE UNWANTED, the undesirables — those they call the “monsters”. The humans who’ve fallen into violence patterns.

    Truly, they have done terrible things –but do we remember how they CAN do these things ?

    Because they are so ordinary & “normal”, just like us all.

    They couldn’t be stopped until it was too late.

    The fact remains — “they” are “US”. Part of the people the courrts & the law are “supposed ” to serve, through sickness & health. The system doesn’t even serve the law – abiding, let alone the lawbreaker.

    Be that as it may, your officials are elected by ‘them”/”us” .

    Like all politics, electoral poitics is vicious. Monstrous egos, uncaring for those thy’re supposed to serve, all feeding into an unbroken cycle of careers ove all based on sloganeering for toughness on crime, long as it’s not the candidate’s.

    Judges are found in collusion with private-run prisons, whose profits depend on more & more prisoners.

    Over 2 MILLION U.S. citizens are now in prison.

    Racism influences death sentence convinctions. Racist police target minorities & migrants ( legal & illegal ) to meet arrest quotas & conviction records.

    Deny all this — it’s your system shall pay.

    As for the “Wild West”—- delete those words, & say it like it is. The destruction of the land & all creation across this continent isn’t a dead but a living & ongoing history informing all of america’s wars abroad & wars within . The criminal justice system is a part of this ongoing violence, a war upon the poor, the sick, and the outcast.

  29. "The criminal justice system is a part of this ongoing violence, a war upon the poor, the sick, and the outcast."

    Yes…I'm sure you are 100% correct. Those sitting in jail and on death row are victims or racism…victims or being poor…victims cause they are sick or outcasts. The crime they committed had NOTHING to do with the sentence handed out. LOL

  30. “The criminal justice system is a part of this ongoing violence, a war upon the poor, the sick, and the outcast.”

    Yes…I’m sure you are 100% correct. Those sitting in jail and on death row are victims or racism…victims or being poor…victims cause they are sick or outcasts. The crime they committed had NOTHING to do with the sentence handed out. LOL

  31. Appreciate your irony, but what's "LOL" mean in your mail ? "lOVE YOUR lOGIC" ? Surely not ??!!!

    I'm also indebted to you, Capt P, for your scrupulous use of reason & restraint in previous reply. Immensely appreciated. i'm deeply pondering the well – argued points in your reply, & they're guiding me to find key truths in this matter & in all else that's connected . Don't feel , CP, i'm not listening whenever you speak. Each word you spoke runs through me endlessly , & surfaces in my mind in the course of my studies.Your concerns remain with me ALL THE TIME.

    CP, i'm feeling more & more that the ordinary people on both sides on this issue have some crucial things in common, too.

    1. They're equally trying to combat "evil" — the procaps are fighting an individual evil, the anticaps a systemic evil. And both "evils" are connected.

    2. Both sides are not monolithic blocs, solid & the same all over, but very mixed blocs, each containing elements even highly hostile to one another. All kinds of people are here

    The "violence pattern" people are also the same on this last point — they're not all the same but very diverse range of mental / cultural / spiritual content. All types of humanity are here, too.

    Both the above points give me an increasing feeling, CP, that we ought to listen to each other, the simple people of all the sides & parties here, & come closer .No one has the answers but in bits & parts, & only together maybe we can make this puzzle fit together.

    Always open to you !

  32. Yes, huge diversities in all directions !!

    The answer's in this very diversity, CP.

    The very thing making us fight has the power to join us, when we approach each other with respect & care, we the "ordinary" people.

  33. Appreciate your irony, but what’s “LOL” mean in your mail ? “lOVE YOUR lOGIC” ? Surely not ??!!!

    I’m also indebted to you, Capt P, for your scrupulous use of reason & restraint in previous reply. Immensely appreciated. i’m deeply pondering the well – argued points in your reply, & they’re guiding me to find key truths in this matter & in all else that’s connected . Don’t feel , CP, i’m not listening whenever you speak. Each word you spoke runs through me endlessly , & surfaces in my mind in the course of my studies.Your concerns remain with me ALL THE TIME.

    CP, i’m feeling more & more that the ordinary people on both sides on this issue have some crucial things in common, too.

    1. They’re equally trying to combat “evil” — the procaps are fighting an individual evil, the anticaps a systemic evil. And both “evils” are connected.

    2. Both sides are not monolithic blocs, solid & the same all over, but very mixed blocs, each containing elements even highly hostile to one another. All kinds of people are here

    The “violence pattern” people are also the same on this last point — they’re not all the same but very diverse range of mental / cultural / spiritual content. All types of humanity are here, too.

    Both the above points give me an increasing feeling, CP, that we ought to listen to each other, the simple people of all the sides & parties here, & come closer .No one has the answers but in bits & parts, & only together maybe we can make this puzzle fit together.

    Always open to you !

  34. Yes, huge diversities in all directions !!

    The answer’s in this very diversity, CP.

    The very thing making us fight has the power to join us, when we approach each other with respect & care, we the “ordinary” people.

  35. Death penalty is good and just. Murders and rapists are NOT Victims like you like to think and deserve to be executed immediately by firing squad. Which is legal in some states.

  36. Death penalty is good and just. Murders and rapists are NOT Victims like you like to think and deserve to be executed immediately by firing squad. Which is legal in some states.

  37. alex I may be in favor of the death penalty but your post is misleading. NO state executes IMMEDIATELY by firing squad or any other means.

    Amnesty Intl loses credibility by opposing all death penalties. It would do much better picking and choosing its cases. It should also publish prior records of those it champions. I might give the benefit of the doubt to a questionable verdict where it was a first time offender, but someone with multiple felony convictions does not warrant my support.

  38. alex I may be in favor of the death penalty but your post is misleading. NO state executes IMMEDIATELY by firing squad or any other means.

    Amnesty Intl loses credibility by opposing all death penalties. It would do much better picking and choosing its cases. It should also publish prior records of those it champions. I might give the benefit of the doubt to a questionable verdict where it was a first time offender, but someone with multiple felony convictions does not warrant my support.

  39. Dear Ms. Debbie Kearns , Please , Keep Your Strong,Brave,Good Faith !!! I Agree , With , What I , Have Read , That You Wrote !!! Ms. Debbie Kearns, Here Are Some Lines , From The Bio. Paperback Book, By Sister Helen Prejean, Called : Dead Man Walking , page #76 &77 , " What's a nun doing in a place like this? " he asks. " Shouldn't you be teaching children ? Do you know what this man has done, the kids he killed? " "What he did was evil. I don't condone it, " I answer. " I just don't see much sense in doing the same to him. " He looks at me and I look at him, and I am thinking that if circumstances were different,I could be sitting at this man's kitchen table, eating jambalaya and swapping stories.I like the man. " You know how the Bible says ' an eye for an eye, ' " he says to me, but it's like a gentle pitch in softball, slow and big and easy. " And you know, " I say back to him, " that Jesus called us to go beyond that kind of vengeance, not to pay back an ' eye for an eye' not to return hate for hate. " He smiles, puts up his hands. " I ain't gonna get into all this Bible quotin' with no nun, ' cuz I'm gonna lose. " Ms. Debbie Kearns , I Agree With You !!! NO MORE OF : THE DEATH ROW !!! NO MORE DEATH PENALTY !!! Keep Up The Good Write-ing & " Keep The Faith "" Sincerely , mary kreis

  40. Dear Ms. Debbie Kearns , Please , Keep Your Strong,Brave,Good Faith !!! I Agree , With , What I , Have Read , That You Wrote !!! Ms. Debbie Kearns, Here Are Some Lines , From The Bio. Paperback Book, By Sister Helen Prejean, Called : Dead Man Walking , page #76 &77 , ” What’s a nun doing in a place like this? ” he asks. ” Shouldn’t you be teaching children ? Do you know what this man has done, the kids he killed? ” “What he did was evil. I don’t condone it, ” I answer. ” I just don’t see much sense in doing the same to him. ” He looks at me and I look at him, and I am thinking that if circumstances were different,I could be sitting at this man’s kitchen table, eating jambalaya and swapping stories.I like the man. ” You know how the Bible says ‘ an eye for an eye, ‘ ” he says to me, but it’s like a gentle pitch in softball, slow and big and easy. ” And you know, ” I say back to him, ” that Jesus called us to go beyond that kind of vengeance, not to pay back an ‘ eye for an eye’ not to return hate for hate. ” He smiles, puts up his hands. ” I ain’t gonna get into all this Bible quotin’ with no nun, ‘ cuz I’m gonna lose. ” Ms. Debbie Kearns , I Agree With You !!! NO MORE OF : THE DEATH ROW !!! NO MORE DEATH PENALTY !!! Keep Up The Good Write-ing & ” Keep The Faith “” Sincerely , mary kreis

  41. You have got to be kidding. No Scientific Evidence to show that the death penalty lowers crime !!! I guarantee that after one of these cold blooded killers is executed they will NEVER kill again. I guess that is not enough for anyone. What we have here is a system so bogged down in special interest groups and attorneys is that we have completely failed in our duty to carry out justice. We have allowed some of the worst totally cold blooded killers to be fed, housed and educated while the families have to continue to pay the price including taxes. Instead we have listened to people who are so out of touch with daily life that we can no longer protect ourselves or ensure our own public safety. We are prisoners of prisoners. the sad part is this is just the beginning. These death row inmates will eventually be freed because of some sick mis-guided people who are afraid to make a decision. Every year children die in pool accidents. Do we make pools illegal ? Of course not, this is an acceptable risk. Why can't we apply the same set of reasoning here. There are cases where there is absolutely no doubt that the person committed the crime but some lawyer has figured out an angle to keep the punishment from happening. Isn't this really cruel and unusual too. Keep em locked long enough until they become mentally ill and then convince the moronic public to remove the death sentence because they are to ill to understand what is happening to them. My will states" that if someone murders me and it can be proven, I want them executed". What are you people afraid of……

  42. You have got to be kidding. No Scientific Evidence to show that the death penalty lowers crime !!! I guarantee that after one of these cold blooded killers is executed they will NEVER kill again. I guess that is not enough for anyone. What we have here is a system so bogged down in special interest groups and attorneys is that we have completely failed in our duty to carry out justice. We have allowed some of the worst totally cold blooded killers to be fed, housed and educated while the families have to continue to pay the price including taxes. Instead we have listened to people who are so out of touch with daily life that we can no longer protect ourselves or ensure our own public safety. We are prisoners of prisoners. the sad part is this is just the beginning. These death row inmates will eventually be freed because of some sick mis-guided people who are afraid to make a decision. Every year children die in pool accidents. Do we make pools illegal ? Of course not, this is an acceptable risk. Why can’t we apply the same set of reasoning here. There are cases where there is absolutely no doubt that the person committed the crime but some lawyer has figured out an angle to keep the punishment from happening. Isn’t this really cruel and unusual too. Keep em locked long enough until they become mentally ill and then convince the moronic public to remove the death sentence because they are to ill to understand what is happening to them. My will states” that if someone murders me and it can be proven, I want them executed”. What are you people afraid of……

  43. Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below, 6/09

    Subject:"Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists", by Michael Radelet, Traci Lacock (1)

    There appears to be a lot of confusion, with regard to the actual findings of the subject review/survey (hereinafter "Survey"). The confusion appears to be the result of what Radelet/Lacock say within the text of their article, as opposed to what the results of the survey actually say.

    SOME REALITY

    100% (or 77) of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some. (question 12)

    It is a rational conclusion. All prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter the behavior of some. It is a truism.

    61% (or 46) of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies. (question 8)

    16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses (2), find for death penalty deterrence. These studies find executions deter from 4-28 murders per execution.

    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life. No surprise.

    If your public policy question is "Does the death penalty deter?" The answer is "Of course it does."

    Game over? Not quite.

    Can we accurately and convincingly measure how many innocent lives are spared because of the deterrent effect of the death penalty? Unlikely. Social sciences are not exact sciences. Even if all protocols and data are sound, results will still vary from study to study. This public policy debate is so contentious, in academia, as elsewhere, that there will always be some disagreement over methodology and results. Therefore, the "convincingly" will always be problematic with such studies.

    The question is not "Does the death penalty deter?" It does. The question is "Will there every be full agreement on how much the death penalty deters?" There won't be.

    THE CURIOUS CASE OF RADELET/LACOCK

    The first three Survey questions are specific to murder rates and deterrence. Both reason and social science have known, for a very long time, that murder rates are not how deterrence is established.

    For example, look at crime rates. Some jurisdictions have high crime rates, some low – from year to year crime rates go up, down or stay, roughly, the same. In all of those circumstances, we know that some potential criminals are deterred from committing crimes by fear of sanction.

    It is the same with all which deters, inclusive of the death penalty. Whether murder rates go up or down, whether they are high or low, there will be fewer net murders with the death penalty and more net murders without it.

    Would Radelet/Lacock or the criminologists say that no criminals are deterred because one jurisdiction has higher crime rates than another or because crime rates have risen? Of course not. It would be silly to even suggest such a thing.

    But, it appears that is what Radelt/Lacock are trying to do with there first three questions.

    Questions 4 and 5 deal with political implications, which have no relevance to deterrence.

    Statement 6 "The death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides". Nearly 57% (or 43) of criminologists said the statement was totally inaccurate.

    How do the authors quantify a "significant reduction" in murders? They don't. Therefore, no one has a clue as to what the authors or respondents meant.

    How many innocent lives saved by deterrence is insignificant? There is no insignificant number.

    One deterred is significant if it is your child's life saved. Is 2-5 innocents saved per year or per execution a significant reduction? 11-25, 112-210, 1800-2800? What is a "significant reduction" in homicides for these 43 criminologists?

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn't say: "The death penalty deters no one." No one can rationally, or truthfully, make such a statement.

    Question 7 regards whether the death penalty is a stronger deterrent to homicide than a life sentence. 91%, or a total of 67, of the criminologists said no.

    Even if the death penalty is only equal in value as a life sentence, as a deterrent, then the death penalty is an important deterrent.

    There are several major tiebreakers in this "equality".

    First, look at those murderers who were not deterred. About 99.9% of all of those murderers who face the death penalty either plea bargain to a life sentence, go to trial, seeking a life sentence, argue for life, not death, in the punishment phase of their trials and fight a, seemingly, never ending appellate battle to stay alive while they are on death row.

    If 99.9% of death penalty eligible murderers not deterred, tell us they fear execution more than life, what about those more reasoned, potential murderers, who have chosen not to murder? Is it possible that they, like most of us, prefer life over death and fear death more than life?

    Secondly, there are a number of real life stories of potential murderers who have stated that it was the death penalty that prevented them from committing murder. This is known as the individual deterrent effect. In these cases, the death penalty was an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence, just as the first example found. In addition, individual, enhanced deterrence cannot exist without general, enhanced deterrence. Therefore, there is a general, enhanced deterrent.

    Thirdly, if we are unsure about deterrence, there is no "equality" in the results of our choices.

    If there is deterrence and we execute, we save innocent lives via deterrence and by preventing murderers from ever harming again. If there is deterrence and we fail to execute, we sacrifice more innocent lives by reduced deterrence and, additionally, put more innocents at risk, because living murderers are always more likely to harm again, than are executed ones. If there is no deterrence and we execute, we protect more innocents because of enhanced incapacitation. If there is no deterrence and we don't execute, more innocents are at risk because the murderer is still alive.

    The weight of the evidence is that the death penalty is an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence and any deterrence is significant for many of us.

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn't ask: "Can you prove the death penalty does not deter some who were not deterred by a life sentence?" Answer: Of course not.

    Radelet/Lacock may misinterpret how important deterrence is to the argument for capital punishment.

    No one can support the death penalty, solely, because of deterrence, because they first must find the sanction just and deserved. Just ask anyone that says they support the death penalty solely because of deterrence: "If you didn't find the person deserved the death penalty, would you still support their execution because of deterrence?"

    The Survey review appears to agree that deterrence is not much of a foundation for death penalty support. Folks support the death penalty because it is a just and appropriate sanction for the crimes committed – the same reason they support all legal sanctions.

    80% of those polled in the US support the death penalty for death eligible, capital murders. (3)

    However, Radelet/Lacock overlooked that death penalty deterrence appears to be a significant threat to anti death penalty folks. That is because a deterrent effect will mean that in achieving their goals anti death penalty folks will be sparing the lives of murderers, at the cost of more innocents murdered. It is a tough result for anti death penalty folks who find themselves with a terrible dilemma.

    The death penalty saves lives, in at least three ways, over a life sentence, – enhanced incapacitation, enhanced due process and enhanced deterrence. Yet, those benefits remain secondary to execution being a just and appropriate sanction for some murders.

    LOOK DEEPER

    Pretend that there is an imaginary world where the evidence is completely neutral on the effects of negative prospects, where there is no evidence of what incentives mean to behavior.

    Do we have two equally balanced prospects? The death penalty/executions deter and the death penalty/executions don't deter.

    This prospect is neither inconclusive nor equally balanced, because you have a prospect between sparing innocent life, via death penalty/execution deterrence or a prospect of death penalty/execution, with no deterrence, but enhanced incapacitation.

    If deterrence is inconclusive, the prospect of saving innocent lives is not.

    Let's look at what criminologists are not saying. They are not saying "The death penalty deters no one." They can't. Reason, common sense and human experience all find that the prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some. It is a truism.

    Why would the most severe criminal sanction be the only one that doesn't deter some? It wouldn't be.

    All legal sanctions deter some. Put another way, "If all sanctions for criminal activity were done away with, what do you think would happen?"

    This debate is often turned backwards, with anti death penalty folks saying "There is no deterrent effect of the death penalty." or asking "Can you prove there is a deterrent effect?"

    As all prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some, the burden of proof is not on those who say the death penalty deters, but on those who say it does not. Can death penalty opponents prove that the death penalty does not deter some? Of course not.

    What social science conflicts with the notion that the potential for negative outcomes/consequences restrains the behavior of some? There are none. Execution is the most serious negative outcome/consequence that a murderer may face.

    SOME NOTES ABOUT BIAS

    This Survey was funded by Sheilah's Fund at the Tides Foundation in San Francisco and was arranged through the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) in Washington, D.C.

    The Tides Foundation Death Penalty Mobilization Fund's sole purpose is the end of the death penalty. Sheilah's Fund is a direct contributor to anti death penalty efforts, as well.

    The DPIC is one of the leading anti death penalty groups in the US and, in my opinion, is one of the most deceptive.

    Prof. Radelet has been one of the most active anti death penalty activists for decades.

    Jeffrey Fagan is a ASC Fellow and has been an anti death penalty activist for decades.

    For context and perspective, it is important to look at the recent past and current positions of the American Society of Criminology (ASC).

    Not long ago, the subtitle to the ASC Death Penalty Resources page was “Anti-Capital Punishment Resources”. They were a proud anti death penalty organization. As today, ASC listed few, if any, capital punishment resources which had a positive view of the death penalty.

    If you visit their site, today, and go to their death penalty material, references and links, it is almost all anti death penalty. Their referenced essays are typical anti death penalty material that are, easily, contradicted.

    This is not uncommon in academia.

    The ASC has an official position against the death penalty.

    Bias can be overcome and studies/reviews can be accurate and reliable despite bias. It is always a benefit to the reader to know the bias of the funding agency and author(s) of any study/review.

    1) Northwestern University School of Law's Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/DeterrenceS

    2) As noted in the Survey, the study authors have not replied to all criticisms of their econometric studies finding for deterrence, just some. That often reflects that the authors found no reason for a defense because the criticism was unworthy of rebuttal (my suspicion with Fagan) or they have not yet published a response (my suspicion with Berk). The fact that 61% of the criminologists find some credibility with deterrence, as detected by the empirical studies is important.

    Some of the 16 studies and their defenses
    Article on Death Penalty Deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm

    3) Most quoted polls wrongly poll for murder, not capital murders. The death penalty is only an option in limited capital, death eligible murders. EXAMPLES: (1)82% in the US favored executing Saddam Hussein. In Great Britain: 69%, France: 58%, Germany: 53%, Spain: 51%, Italy: 46%. (Le Monde (France) , 12/06); (2) 81% support Timothy McVeigh’s execution – “the consensus of all major groups, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, “liberals” and “conservatives.” 16% oppose (Gallup 5/2/01); (3) 85% of liberal Connecticut supported serial/rapist murderer Michael Ross’ “voluntary” execution (Quinnipiac 1/12/05); (4) 79% support death penalty for terrorists (4/26/2007 New York State poll); (5) 78% of Nebraskans support death penalty for “heinous crimes.” 16% opposed.(MPB Public Affairs Poll, 2/14/08).

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

  44. Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below, 6/09

    Subject:"Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists", by Michael Radelet, Traci Lacock (1)

    There appears to be a lot of confusion, with regard to the actual findings of the subject review/survey (hereinafter "Survey"). The confusion appears to be the result of what Radelet/Lacock say within the text of their article, as opposed to what the results of the survey actually say.

    SOME REALITY

    100% (or 77) of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some. (question 12)

    It is a rational conclusion. All prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter the behavior of some. It is a truism.

    61% (or 46) of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies. (question 8)

    16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses (2), find for death penalty deterrence. These studies find executions deter from 4-28 murders per execution.

    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life. No surprise.

    If your public policy question is "Does the death penalty deter?" The answer is "Of course it does."

    Game over? Not quite.

    Can we accurately and convincingly measure how many innocent lives are spared because of the deterrent effect of the death penalty? Unlikely. Social sciences are not exact sciences. Even if all protocols and data are sound, results will still vary from study to study. This public policy debate is so contentious, in academia, as elsewhere, that there will always be some disagreement over methodology and results. Therefore, the "convincingly" will always be problematic with such studies.

    The question is not "Does the death penalty deter?" It does. The question is "Will there every be full agreement on how much the death penalty deters?" There won't be.

    THE CURIOUS CASE OF RADELET/LACOCK

    The first three Survey questions are specific to murder rates and deterrence. Both reason and social science have known, for a very long time, that murder rates are not how deterrence is established.

    For example, look at crime rates. Some jurisdictions have high crime rates, some low – from year to year crime rates go up, down or stay, roughly, the same. In all of those circumstances, we know that some potential criminals are deterred from committing crimes by fear of sanction.

    It is the same with all which deters, inclusive of the death penalty. Whether murder rates go up or down, whether they are high or low, there will be fewer net murders with the death penalty and more net murders without it.

    Would Radelet/Lacock or the criminologists say that no criminals are deterred because one jurisdiction has higher crime rates than another or because crime rates have risen? Of course not. It would be silly to even suggest such a thing.

    But, it appears that is what Radelt/Lacock are trying to do with there first three questions.

    Questions 4 and 5 deal with political implications, which have no relevance to deterrence.

    Statement 6 "The death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides". Nearly 57% (or 43) of criminologists said the statement was totally inaccurate.

    How do the authors quantify a "significant reduction" in murders? They don't. Therefore, no one has a clue as to what the authors or respondents meant.

    How many innocent lives saved by deterrence is insignificant? There is no insignificant number.

    One deterred is significant if it is your child's life saved. Is 2-5 innocents saved per year or per execution a significant reduction? 11-25, 112-210, 1800-2800? What is a "significant reduction" in homicides for these 43 criminologists?

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn't say: "The death penalty deters no one." No one can rationally, or truthfully, make such a statement.

    Question 7 regards whether the death penalty is a stronger deterrent to homicide than a life sentence. 91%, or a total of 67, of the criminologists said no.

    Even if the death penalty is only equal in value as a life sentence, as a deterrent, then the death penalty is an important deterrent.

    There are several major tiebreakers in this "equality".

    First, look at those murderers who were not deterred. About 99.9% of all of those murderers who face the death penalty either plea bargain to a life sentence, go to trial, seeking a life sentence, argue for life, not death, in the punishment phase of their trials and fight a, seemingly, never ending appellate battle to stay alive while they are on death row.

    If 99.9% of death penalty eligible murderers not deterred, tell us they fear execution more than life, what about those more reasoned, potential murderers, who have chosen not to murder? Is it possible that they, like most of us, prefer life over death and fear death more than life?

    Secondly, there are a number of real life stories of potential murderers who have stated that it was the death penalty that prevented them from committing murder. This is known as the individual deterrent effect. In these cases, the death penalty was an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence, just as the first example found. In addition, individual, enhanced deterrence cannot exist without general, enhanced deterrence. Therefore, there is a general, enhanced deterrent.

    Thirdly, if we are unsure about deterrence, there is no "equality" in the results of our choices.

    If there is deterrence and we execute, we save innocent lives via deterrence and by preventing murderers from ever harming again. If there is deterrence and we fail to execute, we sacrifice more innocent lives by reduced deterrence and, additionally, put more innocents at risk, because living murderers are always more likely to harm again, than are executed ones. If there is no deterrence and we execute, we protect more innocents because of enhanced incapacitation. If there is no deterrence and we don't execute, more innocents are at risk because the murderer is still alive.

    The weight of the evidence is that the death penalty is an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence and any deterrence is significant for many of us.

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn't ask: "Can you prove the death penalty does not deter some who were not deterred by a life sentence?" Answer: Of course not.

    Radelet/Lacock may misinterpret how important deterrence is to the argument for capital punishment.

    No one can support the death penalty, solely, because of deterrence, because they first must find the sanction just and deserved. Just ask anyone that says they support the death penalty solely because of deterrence: "If you didn't find the person deserved the death penalty, would you still support their execution because of deterrence?"

    The Survey review appears to agree that deterrence is not much of a foundation for death penalty support. Folks support the death penalty because it is a just and appropriate sanction for the crimes committed – the same reason they support all legal sanctions.

    80% of those polled in the US support the death penalty for death eligible, capital murders. (3)

    However, Radelet/Lacock overlooked that death penalty deterrence appears to be a significant threat to anti death penalty folks. That is because a deterrent effect will mean that in achieving their goals anti death penalty folks will be sparing the lives of murderers, at the cost of more innocents murdered. It is a tough result for anti death penalty folks who find themselves with a terrible dilemma.

    The death penalty saves lives, in at least three ways, over a life sentence, – enhanced incapacitation, enhanced due process and enhanced deterrence. Yet, those benefits remain secondary to execution being a just and appropriate sanction for some murders.

    LOOK DEEPER

    Pretend that there is an imaginary world where the evidence is completely neutral on the effects of negative prospects, where there is no evidence of what incentives mean to behavior.

    Do we have two equally balanced prospects? The death penalty/executions deter and the death penalty/executions don't deter.

    This prospect is neither inconclusive nor equally balanced, because you have a prospect between sparing innocent life, via death penalty/execution deterrence or a prospect of death penalty/execution, with no deterrence, but enhanced incapacitation.

    If deterrence is inconclusive, the prospect of saving innocent lives is not.

    Let's look at what criminologists are not saying. They are not saying "The death penalty deters no one." They can't. Reason, common sense and human experience all find that the prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some. It is a truism.

    Why would the most severe criminal sanction be the only one that doesn't deter some? It wouldn't be.

    All legal sanctions deter some. Put another way, "If all sanctions for criminal activity were done away with, what do you think would happen?"

    This debate is often turned backwards, with anti death penalty folks saying "There is no deterrent effect of the death penalty." or asking "Can you prove there is a deterrent effect?"

    As all prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some, the burden of proof is not on those who say the death penalty deters, but on those who say it does not. Can death penalty opponents prove that the death penalty does not deter some? Of course not.

    What social science conflicts with the notion that the potential for negative outcomes/consequences restrains the behavior of some? There are none. Execution is the most serious negative outcome/consequence that a murderer may face.

    SOME NOTES ABOUT BIAS

    This Survey was funded by Sheilah's Fund at the Tides Foundation in San Francisco and was arranged through the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) in Washington, D.C.

    The Tides Foundation Death Penalty Mobilization Fund's sole purpose is the end of the death penalty. Sheilah's Fund is a direct contributor to anti death penalty efforts, as well.

    The DPIC is one of the leading anti death penalty groups in the US and, in my opinion, is one of the most deceptive.

    Prof. Radelet has been one of the most active anti death penalty activists for decades.

    Jeffrey Fagan is a ASC Fellow and has been an anti death penalty activist for decades.

    For context and perspective, it is important to look at the recent past and current positions of the American Society of Criminology (ASC).

    Not long ago, the subtitle to the ASC Death Penalty Resources page was “Anti-Capital Punishment Resources”. They were a proud anti death penalty organization. As today, ASC listed few, if any, capital punishment resources which had a positive view of the death penalty.

    If you visit their site, today, and go to their death penalty material, references and links, it is almost all anti death penalty. Their referenced essays are typical anti death penalty material that are, easily, contradicted.

    This is not uncommon in academia.

    The ASC has an official position against the death penalty.

    Bias can be overcome and studies/reviews can be accurate and reliable despite bias. It is always a benefit to the reader to know the bias of the funding agency and author(s) of any study/review.

    1) Northwestern University School of Law's Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/DeterrenceS

    2) As noted in the Survey, the study authors have not replied to all criticisms of their econometric studies finding for deterrence, just some. That often reflects that the authors found no reason for a defense because the criticism was unworthy of rebuttal (my suspicion with Fagan) or they have not yet published a response (my suspicion with Berk). The fact that 61% of the criminologists find some credibility with deterrence, as detected by the empirical studies is important.

    Some of the 16 studies and their defenses
    Article on Death Penalty Deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm

    3) Most quoted polls wrongly poll for murder, not capital murders. The death penalty is only an option in limited capital, death eligible murders. EXAMPLES: (1)82% in the US favored executing Saddam Hussein. In Great Britain: 69%, France: 58%, Germany: 53%, Spain: 51%, Italy: 46%. (Le Monde (France) , 12/06); (2) 81% support Timothy McVeigh’s execution – “the consensus of all major groups, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, “liberals” and “conservatives.” 16% oppose (Gallup 5/2/01); (3) 85% of liberal Connecticut supported serial/rapist murderer Michael Ross’ “voluntary” execution (Quinnipiac 1/12/05); (4) 79% support death penalty for terrorists (4/26/2007 New York State poll); (5) 78% of Nebraskans support death penalty for “heinous crimes.” 16% opposed.(MPB Public Affairs Poll, 2/14/08).

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

  45. Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below, 6/09

    Subject:"Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists", by Michael Radelet, Traci Lacock (1)

    There appears to be a lot of confusion, with regard to the actual findings of the subject review/survey (hereinafter "Survey"). The confusion appears to be the result of what Radelet/Lacock say within the text of their article, as opposed to what the results of the survey actually say.

    SOME REALITY

    100% (or 77) of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some. (question 12)

    It is a rational conclusion. All prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter the behavior of some. It is a truism.

    61% (or 46) of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies. (question 8)

    16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses (2), find for death penalty deterrence. These studies find executions deter from 4-28 murders per execution.

    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life. No surprise.

    If your public policy question is "Does the death penalty deter?" The answer is "Of course it does."

    Game over? Not quite.

    Can we accurately and convincingly measure how many innocent lives are spared because of the deterrent effect of the death penalty? Unlikely. Social sciences are not exact sciences. Even if all protocols and data are sound, results will still vary from study to study. This public policy debate is so contentious, in academia, as elsewhere, that there will always be some disagreement over methodology and results. Therefore, the "convincingly" will always be problematic with such studies.

    The question is not "Does the death penalty deter?" It does. The question is "Will there every be full agreement on how much the death penalty deters?" There won't be.

    THE CURIOUS CASE OF RADELET/LACOCK

    The first three Survey questions are specific to murder rates and deterrence. Both reason and social science have known, for a very long time, that murder rates are not how deterrence is established.

    For example, look at crime rates. Some jurisdictions have high crime rates, some low – from year to year crime rates go up, down or stay, roughly, the same. In all of those circumstances, we know that some potential criminals are deterred from committing crimes by fear of sanction.

    It is the same with all which deters, inclusive of the death penalty. Whether murder rates go up or down, whether they are high or low, there will be fewer net murders with the death penalty and more net murders without it.

    Would Radelet/Lacock or the criminologists say that no criminals are deterred because one jurisdiction has higher crime rates than another or because crime rates have risen? Of course not. It would be silly to even suggest such a thing.

    But, it appears that is what Radelt/Lacock are trying to do with there first three questions.

    Questions 4 and 5 deal with political implications, which have no relevance to deterrence.

    Statement 6 "The death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides". Nearly 57% (or 43) of criminologists said the statement was totally inaccurate.

    How do the authors quantify a "significant reduction" in murders? They don't. Therefore, no one has a clue as to what the authors or respondents meant.

    How many innocent lives saved by deterrence is insignificant? There is no insignificant number.

    One deterred is significant if it is your child's life saved. Is 2-5 innocents saved per year or per execution a significant reduction? 11-25, 112-210, 1800-2800? What is a "significant reduction" in homicides for these 43 criminologists?

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn't say: "The death penalty deters no one." No one can rationally, or truthfully, make such a statement.

    Question 7 regards whether the death penalty is a stronger deterrent to homicide than a life sentence. 91%, or a total of 67, of the criminologists said no.

    Even if the death penalty is only equal in value as a life sentence, as a deterrent, then the death penalty is an important deterrent.

    There are several major tiebreakers in this "equality".

    First, look at those murderers who were not deterred. About 99.9% of all of those murderers who face the death penalty either plea bargain to a life sentence, go to trial, seeking a life sentence, argue for life, not death, in the punishment phase of their trials and fight a, seemingly, never ending appellate battle to stay alive while they are on death row.

    If 99.9% of death penalty eligible murderers not deterred, tell us they fear execution more than life, what about those more reasoned, potential murderers, who have chosen not to murder? Is it possible that they, like most of us, prefer life over death and fear death more than life?

    Secondly, there are a number of real life stories of potential murderers who have stated that it was the death penalty that prevented them from committing murder. This is known as the individual deterrent effect. In these cases, the death penalty was an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence, just as the first example found. In addition, individual, enhanced deterrence cannot exist without general, enhanced deterrence. Therefore, there is a general, enhanced deterrent.

    Thirdly, if we are unsure about deterrence, there is no "equality" in the results of our choices.

    If there is deterrence and we execute, we save innocent lives via deterrence and by preventing murderers from ever harming again. If there is deterrence and we fail to execute, we sacrifice more innocent lives by reduced deterrence and, additionally, put more innocents at risk, because living murderers are always more likely to harm again, than are executed ones. If there is no deterrence and we execute, we protect more innocents because of enhanced incapacitation. If there is no deterrence and we don't execute, more innocents are at risk because the murderer is still alive.

    The weight of the evidence is that the death penalty is an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence and any deterrence is significant for many of us.

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn't ask: "Can you prove the death penalty does not deter some who were not deterred by a life sentence?" Answer: Of course not.

    Radelet/Lacock may misinterpret how important deterrence is to the argument for capital punishment.

    No one can support the death penalty, solely, because of deterrence, because they first must find the sanction just and deserved. Just ask anyone that says they support the death penalty solely because of deterrence: "If you didn't find the person deserved the death penalty, would you still support their execution because of deterrence?"

    The Survey review appears to agree that deterrence is not much of a foundation for death penalty support. Folks support the death penalty because it is a just and appropriate sanction for the crimes committed – the same reason they support all legal sanctions.

    80% of those polled in the US support the death penalty for death eligible, capital murders. (3)

    However, Radelet/Lacock overlooked that death penalty deterrence appears to be a significant threat to anti death penalty folks. That is because a deterrent effect will mean that in achieving their goals anti death penalty folks will be sparing the lives of murderers, at the cost of more innocents murdered. It is a tough result for anti death penalty folks who find themselves with a terrible dilemma.

    The death penalty saves lives, in at least three ways, over a life sentence, – enhanced incapacitation, enhanced due process and enhanced deterrence. Yet, those benefits remain secondary to execution being a just and appropriate sanction for some murders.

    LOOK DEEPER

    Pretend that there is an imaginary world where the evidence is completely neutral on the effects of negative prospects, where there is no evidence of what incentives mean to behavior.

    Do we have two equally balanced prospects? The death penalty/executions deter and the death penalty/executions don't deter.

    This prospect is neither inconclusive nor equally balanced, because you have a prospect between sparing innocent life, via death penalty/execution deterrence or a prospect of death penalty/execution, with no deterrence, but enhanced incapacitation.

    If deterrence is inconclusive, the prospect of saving innocent lives is not.

    Let's look at what criminologists are not saying. They are not saying "The death penalty deters no one." They can't. Reason, common sense and human experience all find that the prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some. It is a truism.

    Why would the most severe criminal sanction be the only one that doesn't deter some? It wouldn't be.

    All legal sanctions deter some. Put another way, "If all sanctions for criminal activity were done away with, what do you think would happen?"

    This debate is often turned backwards, with anti death penalty folks saying "There is no deterrent effect of the death penalty." or asking "Can you prove there is a deterrent effect?"

    As all prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some, the burden of proof is not on those who say the death penalty deters, but on those who say it does not. Can death penalty opponents prove that the death penalty does not deter some? Of course not.

    What social science conflicts with the notion that the potential for negative outcomes/consequences restrains the behavior of some? There are none. Execution is the most serious negative outcome/consequence that a murderer may face.

    SOME NOTES ABOUT BIAS

    This Survey was funded by Sheilah's Fund at the Tides Foundation in San Francisco and was arranged through the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) in Washington, D.C.

    The Tides Foundation Death Penalty Mobilization Fund's sole purpose is the end of the death penalty. Sheilah's Fund is a direct contributor to anti death penalty efforts, as well.

    The DPIC is one of the leading anti death penalty groups in the US and, in my opinion, is one of the most deceptive.

    Prof. Radelet has been one of the most active anti death penalty activists for decades.

    Jeffrey Fagan is a ASC Fellow and has been an anti death penalty activist for decades.

    For context and perspective, it is important to look at the recent past and current positions of the American Society of Criminology (ASC).

    Not long ago, the subtitle to the ASC Death Penalty Resources page was “Anti-Capital Punishment Resources”. They were a proud anti death penalty organization. As today, ASC listed few, if any, capital punishment resources which had a positive view of the death penalty.

    If you visit their site, today, and go to their death penalty material, references and links, it is almost all anti death penalty. Their referenced essays are typical anti death penalty material that are, easily, contradicted.

    This is not uncommon in academia.

    The ASC has an official position against the death penalty.

    Bias can be overcome and studies/reviews can be accurate and reliable despite bias. It is always a benefit to the reader to know the bias of the funding agency and author(s) of any study/review.

    1) Northwestern University School of Law's Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/DeterrenceS

    2) As noted in the Survey, the study authors have not replied to all criticisms of their econometric studies finding for deterrence, just some. That often reflects that the authors found no reason for a defense because the criticism was unworthy of rebuttal (my suspicion with Fagan) or they have not yet published a response (my suspicion with Berk). The fact that 61% of the criminologists find some credibility with deterrence, as detected by the empirical studies is important.

    Some of the 16 studies and their defenses
    Article on Death Penalty Deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm

    3) Most quoted polls wrongly poll for murder, not capital murders. The death penalty is only an option in limited capital, death eligible murders. EXAMPLES: (1)82% in the US favored executing Saddam Hussein. In Great Britain: 69%, France: 58%, Germany: 53%, Spain: 51%, Italy: 46%. (Le Monde (France) , 12/06); (2) 81% support Timothy McVeigh’s execution – “the consensus of all major groups, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, “liberals” and “conservatives.” 16% oppose (Gallup 5/2/01); (3) 85% of liberal Connecticut supported serial/rapist murderer Michael Ross’ “voluntary” execution (Quinnipiac 1/12/05); (4) 79% support death penalty for terrorists (4/26/2007 New York State poll); (5) 78% of Nebraskans support death penalty for “heinous crimes.” 16% opposed.(MPB Public Affairs Poll, 2/14/08).

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

  46. Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below, 6/09

    Subject:”Do Executions Lower Homicide Rates? The Views of Leading Criminologists”, by Michael Radelet, Traci Lacock (1)

    There appears to be a lot of confusion, with regard to the actual findings of the subject review/survey (hereinafter “Survey”). The confusion appears to be the result of what Radelet/Lacock say within the text of their article, as opposed to what the results of the survey actually say.

    SOME REALITY

    100% (or 77) of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some. (question 12)

    It is a rational conclusion. All prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter the behavior of some. It is a truism.

    61% (or 46) of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies. (question 8)

    16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses (2), find for death penalty deterrence. These studies find executions deter from 4-28 murders per execution.

    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life. No surprise.

    If your public policy question is “Does the death penalty deter?” The answer is “Of course it does.”

    Game over? Not quite.

    Can we accurately and convincingly measure how many innocent lives are spared because of the deterrent effect of the death penalty? Unlikely. Social sciences are not exact sciences. Even if all protocols and data are sound, results will still vary from study to study. This public policy debate is so contentious, in academia, as elsewhere, that there will always be some disagreement over methodology and results. Therefore, the “convincingly” will always be problematic with such studies.

    The question is not “Does the death penalty deter?” It does. The question is “Will there every be full agreement on how much the death penalty deters?” There won’t be.

    THE CURIOUS CASE OF RADELET/LACOCK

    The first three Survey questions are specific to murder rates and deterrence. Both reason and social science have known, for a very long time, that murder rates are not how deterrence is established.

    For example, look at crime rates. Some jurisdictions have high crime rates, some low – from year to year crime rates go up, down or stay, roughly, the same. In all of those circumstances, we know that some potential criminals are deterred from committing crimes by fear of sanction.

    It is the same with all which deters, inclusive of the death penalty. Whether murder rates go up or down, whether they are high or low, there will be fewer net murders with the death penalty and more net murders without it.

    Would Radelet/Lacock or the criminologists say that no criminals are deterred because one jurisdiction has higher crime rates than another or because crime rates have risen? Of course not. It would be silly to even suggest such a thing.

    But, it appears that is what Radelt/Lacock are trying to do with there first three questions.

    Questions 4 and 5 deal with political implications, which have no relevance to deterrence.

    Statement 6 “The death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides”. Nearly 57% (or 43) of criminologists said the statement was totally inaccurate.

    How do the authors quantify a “significant reduction” in murders? They don’t. Therefore, no one has a clue as to what the authors or respondents meant.

    How many innocent lives saved by deterrence is insignificant? There is no insignificant number.

    One deterred is significant if it is your child’s life saved. Is 2-5 innocents saved per year or per execution a significant reduction? 11-25, 112-210, 1800-2800? What is a “significant reduction” in homicides for these 43 criminologists?

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn’t say: “The death penalty deters no one.” No one can rationally, or truthfully, make such a statement.

    Question 7 regards whether the death penalty is a stronger deterrent to homicide than a life sentence. 91%, or a total of 67, of the criminologists said no.

    Even if the death penalty is only equal in value as a life sentence, as a deterrent, then the death penalty is an important deterrent.

    There are several major tiebreakers in this “equality”.

    First, look at those murderers who were not deterred. About 99.9% of all of those murderers who face the death penalty either plea bargain to a life sentence, go to trial, seeking a life sentence, argue for life, not death, in the punishment phase of their trials and fight a, seemingly, never ending appellate battle to stay alive while they are on death row.

    If 99.9% of death penalty eligible murderers not deterred, tell us they fear execution more than life, what about those more reasoned, potential murderers, who have chosen not to murder? Is it possible that they, like most of us, prefer life over death and fear death more than life?

    Secondly, there are a number of real life stories of potential murderers who have stated that it was the death penalty that prevented them from committing murder. This is known as the individual deterrent effect. In these cases, the death penalty was an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence, just as the first example found. In addition, individual, enhanced deterrence cannot exist without general, enhanced deterrence. Therefore, there is a general, enhanced deterrent.

    Thirdly, if we are unsure about deterrence, there is no “equality” in the results of our choices.

    If there is deterrence and we execute, we save innocent lives via deterrence and by preventing murderers from ever harming again. If there is deterrence and we fail to execute, we sacrifice more innocent lives by reduced deterrence and, additionally, put more innocents at risk, because living murderers are always more likely to harm again, than are executed ones. If there is no deterrence and we execute, we protect more innocents because of enhanced incapacitation. If there is no deterrence and we don’t execute, more innocents are at risk because the murderer is still alive.

    The weight of the evidence is that the death penalty is an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence and any deterrence is significant for many of us.

    There is a reason Radelet/Lacock didn’t ask: “Can you prove the death penalty does not deter some who were not deterred by a life sentence?” Answer: Of course not.

    Radelet/Lacock may misinterpret how important deterrence is to the argument for capital punishment.

    No one can support the death penalty, solely, because of deterrence, because they first must find the sanction just and deserved. Just ask anyone that says they support the death penalty solely because of deterrence: “If you didn’t find the person deserved the death penalty, would you still support their execution because of deterrence?”

    The Survey review appears to agree that deterrence is not much of a foundation for death penalty support. Folks support the death penalty because it is a just and appropriate sanction for the crimes committed – the same reason they support all legal sanctions.

    80% of those polled in the US support the death penalty for death eligible, capital murders. (3)

    However, Radelet/Lacock overlooked that death penalty deterrence appears to be a significant threat to anti death penalty folks. That is because a deterrent effect will mean that in achieving their goals anti death penalty folks will be sparing the lives of murderers, at the cost of more innocents murdered. It is a tough result for anti death penalty folks who find themselves with a terrible dilemma.

    The death penalty saves lives, in at least three ways, over a life sentence, – enhanced incapacitation, enhanced due process and enhanced deterrence. Yet, those benefits remain secondary to execution being a just and appropriate sanction for some murders.

    LOOK DEEPER

    Pretend that there is an imaginary world where the evidence is completely neutral on the effects of negative prospects, where there is no evidence of what incentives mean to behavior.

    Do we have two equally balanced prospects? The death penalty/executions deter and the death penalty/executions don’t deter.

    This prospect is neither inconclusive nor equally balanced, because you have a prospect between sparing innocent life, via death penalty/execution deterrence or a prospect of death penalty/execution, with no deterrence, but enhanced incapacitation.

    If deterrence is inconclusive, the prospect of saving innocent lives is not.

    Let’s look at what criminologists are not saying. They are not saying “The death penalty deters no one.” They can’t. Reason, common sense and human experience all find that the prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some. It is a truism.

    Why would the most severe criminal sanction be the only one that doesn’t deter some? It wouldn’t be.

    All legal sanctions deter some. Put another way, “If all sanctions for criminal activity were done away with, what do you think would happen?”

    This debate is often turned backwards, with anti death penalty folks saying “There is no deterrent effect of the death penalty.” or asking “Can you prove there is a deterrent effect?”

    As all prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some, the burden of proof is not on those who say the death penalty deters, but on those who say it does not. Can death penalty opponents prove that the death penalty does not deter some? Of course not.

    What social science conflicts with the notion that the potential for negative outcomes/consequences restrains the behavior of some? There are none. Execution is the most serious negative outcome/consequence that a murderer may face.

    SOME NOTES ABOUT BIAS

    This Survey was funded by Sheilah’s Fund at the Tides Foundation in San Francisco and was arranged through the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) in Washington, D.C.

    The Tides Foundation Death Penalty Mobilization Fund’s sole purpose is the end of the death penalty. Sheilah’s Fund is a direct contributor to anti death penalty efforts, as well.

    The DPIC is one of the leading anti death penalty groups in the US and, in my opinion, is one of the most deceptive.

    Prof. Radelet has been one of the most active anti death penalty activists for decades.

    Jeffrey Fagan is a ASC Fellow and has been an anti death penalty activist for decades.

    For context and perspective, it is important to look at the recent past and current positions of the American Society of Criminology (ASC).

    Not long ago, the subtitle to the ASC Death Penalty Resources page was “Anti-Capital Punishment Resources”. They were a proud anti death penalty organization. As today, ASC listed few, if any, capital punishment resources which had a positive view of the death penalty.

    If you visit their site, today, and go to their death penalty material, references and links, it is almost all anti death penalty. Their referenced essays are typical anti death penalty material that are, easily, contradicted.

    This is not uncommon in academia.

    The ASC has an official position against the death penalty.

    Bias can be overcome and studies/reviews can be accurate and reliable despite bias. It is always a benefit to the reader to know the bias of the funding agency and author(s) of any study/review.

    1) Northwestern University School of Law’s Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology
    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/DeterrenceStudy2009.pdf

    2) As noted in the Survey, the study authors have not replied to all criticisms of their econometric studies finding for deterrence, just some. That often reflects that the authors found no reason for a defense because the criticism was unworthy of rebuttal (my suspicion with Fagan) or they have not yet published a response (my suspicion with Berk). The fact that 61% of the criminologists find some credibility with deterrence, as detected by the empirical studies is important.

    Some of the 16 studies and their defenses
    Article on Death Penalty Deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
    http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm

    3) Most quoted polls wrongly poll for murder, not capital murders. The death penalty is only an option in limited capital, death eligible murders. EXAMPLES: (1)82% in the US favored executing Saddam Hussein. In Great Britain: 69%, France: 58%, Germany: 53%, Spain: 51%, Italy: 46%. (Le Monde (France) , 12/06); (2) 81% support Timothy McVeigh’s execution – “the consensus of all major groups, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, “liberals” and “conservatives.” 16% oppose (Gallup 5/2/01); (3) 85% of liberal Connecticut supported serial/rapist murderer Michael Ross’ “voluntary” execution (Quinnipiac 1/12/05); (4) 79% support death penalty for terrorists (4/26/2007 New York State poll); (5) 78% of Nebraskans support death penalty for “heinous crimes.” 16% opposed.(MPB Public Affairs Poll, 2/14/08).

    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

  47. "If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by my friends the murderers."
    Alphonse Karr

  48. The problem with christian thought is that you are already guilty. It is amazing that people drag Jesus into the argument when the so many have been murdered or made to suffer through the sick distorted doctrine that he pervaded the world for a long time. Mao was correct when he said"Religion is the opiate of the people".

  49. You had me until "so many have been murdered or made to suffer through the sick distorted doctrine that HE pervaded".

    By "HE" are you refering to Jesus?

    All religions have a share of radical self-proclaimed members of said religion, but those who follow his true words are not those causing the murder or suffering. Of course this is my opinion and I respect yours.

    Thanks,

  50. actually, I was not referring to Jesus as the problem, it is the bastardization of the message of Jesus that irks me….I am sorry if I offended anyone who really understands the message of Christ. I live in California a death penalty state where do to litigation etc we can't possibly carry out the death penalty but we have people being killed daily by these gangs….If you think the death penalty actually increases the murder rate try Mexico, they oppose the death penalty of course and meddle in our affairs when it comes to extraditing murders from there. So I think everyone who opposes the death penalty here in California is going to be even more delighted as California becomes or is a third world country where gangs and murder are the order of the day and the real treat is that we will all be speaking spanglish. Something to look forward to along with a 12% unemployment rate.

  51. I was quick and misunderstood your post. Thanks for responding.

    I feel your pain and understand your frustration with California. We are shooting ourselves in the foot on many fronts.

  52. “If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by my friends the murderers.”
    Alphonse Karr

  53. The problem with christian thought is that you are already guilty. It is amazing that people drag Jesus into the argument when the so many have been murdered or made to suffer through the sick distorted doctrine that he pervaded the world for a long time. Mao was correct when he said”Religion is the opiate of the people”.

  54. You had me until “so many have been murdered or made to suffer through the sick distorted doctrine that HE pervaded”.

    By “HE” are you refering to Jesus?

    All religions have a share of radical self-proclaimed members of said religion, but those who follow his true words are not those causing the murder or suffering. Of course this is my opinion and I respect yours.

    Thanks,

  55. actually, I was not referring to Jesus as the problem, it is the bastardization of the message of Jesus that irks me….I am sorry if I offended anyone who really understands the message of Christ. I live in California a death penalty state where do to litigation etc we can’t possibly carry out the death penalty but we have people being killed daily by these gangs….If you think the death penalty actually increases the murder rate try Mexico, they oppose the death penalty of course and meddle in our affairs when it comes to extraditing murders from there. So I think everyone who opposes the death penalty here in California is going to be even more delighted as California becomes or is a third world country where gangs and murder are the order of the day and the real treat is that we will all be speaking spanglish. Something to look forward to along with a 12% unemployment rate.

  56. I was quick and misunderstood your post. Thanks for responding.

    I feel your pain and understand your frustration with California. We are shooting ourselves in the foot on many fronts.

  57. "Settle down, no one on this whole thread is suggesting YOU are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that you should forfeit your rights and that you deserve to be executed. Those you are advocating for … different story. Good grief."

    To quote "Dear Debbie":
    "“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has made man.lood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6).

    May God forgive YOU."

    And again, "no one on this whole thread is suggesting YOU are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that you should forfeit your rights and that you deserve to be executed".

    You've really got to get out of the habit of calling human rights activists murderers. It doesn't help your cause.

  58. “If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by my friends the murderers.”

    Your quote is irrational. A murderer, by definition, has murdered. For them not to have murdered, and thus satisfy your quote, they would have to not be a murderer, which they already are. Paradoxes like this do not contribute to the pro death penalty cause.

  59. What you need to do is quite manipulating the justice system with religious ideas that not everyone embraces. One minute your quoting the OLD testament where it supports your ideas and then the next your quoting the New Testament. The problem is that the bible is not speaking to the gentiles, it speaks to different people depending on the scripture but people constantly quote whatever seems to suite there purpose. Using christian dogma to keep murderers from getting the fair share is beyond my understanding……There is fact that is completely true: If you execute someone for murder of let's say a family in a gang related drive by shooting they will never ever repeat the crime. That you cannot deny no matter what statistical garbage your try and put together…..

  60. Josh-

    Who is calling human rights activists murderers?

    What part of any of my posts drives you to that conclusion? I don't have a cause, I'm simply against those who support a federal ban on the death penalty. I disagree with them but I don't consider any of them murderers.

    Even the Dear Debbie guy or girl was attempting to quote the bible but didn't go so far as to call any human rights activitist a murderer.

    Where are you drawing this conclusion?

  61. I am not calling anyone murderers but those who have been convicted, what I am saying is that the Christian Religion has certainly committed it's shall we say sins against humanity. Unfortunately this type of ideology confuses the issue of separation of church and state except when it benefits the christian ideology. I really dislike it that because of things like the cost of executions, the possiblity (which would be horrible of course) of executing a non-guilty party and the idea the the death penalty is not deterrent.

    Why not stop all of the litigation that leads to high cost of endless appeals ? For example stopping lethal injections because of pain and suffering ? What are we doing here ? These murders who have been convicted have created untold agony on their victims. How would you like to have your limbs cut-off. Do you think that is fun, then get paroled and then actually kill someone.

    I guarantee you if we started executing California inmates right now especially these gang members who kill people without a bit of remorse the murder rate will go down.

  62. “Settle down, no one on this whole thread is suggesting YOU are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that you should forfeit your rights and that you deserve to be executed. Those you are advocating for … different story. Good grief.”

    To quote “Dear Debbie”:
    ““Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has made man.lood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6).

    May God forgive YOU.”

    And again, “no one on this whole thread is suggesting YOU are a guilty sinner, criminal and murderer OR that you should forfeit your rights and that you deserve to be executed”.

    You’ve really got to get out of the habit of calling human rights activists murderers. It doesn’t help your cause.

  63. “If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by my friends the murderers.”

    Your quote is irrational. A murderer, by definition, has murdered. For them not to have murdered, and thus satisfy your quote, they would have to not be a murderer, which they already are. Paradoxes like this do not contribute to the pro death penalty cause.

  64. What you need to do is quite manipulating the justice system with religious ideas that not everyone embraces. One minute your quoting the OLD testament where it supports your ideas and then the next your quoting the New Testament. The problem is that the bible is not speaking to the gentiles, it speaks to different people depending on the scripture but people constantly quote whatever seems to suite there purpose. Using christian dogma to keep murderers from getting the fair share is beyond my understanding……There is fact that is completely true: If you execute someone for murder of let’s say a family in a gang related drive by shooting they will never ever repeat the crime. That you cannot deny no matter what statistical garbage your try and put together…..

  65. Josh-

    Who is calling human rights activists murderers?

    What part of any of my posts drives you to that conclusion? I don’t have a cause, I’m simply against those who support a federal ban on the death penalty. I disagree with them but I don’t consider any of them murderers.

    Even the Dear Debbie guy or girl was attempting to quote the bible but didn’t go so far as to call any human rights activitist a murderer.

    Where are you drawing this conclusion?

  66. I am not calling anyone murderers but those who have been convicted, what I am saying is that the Christian Religion has certainly committed it’s shall we say sins against humanity. Unfortunately this type of ideology confuses the issue of separation of church and state except when it benefits the christian ideology. I really dislike it that because of things like the cost of executions, the possiblity (which would be horrible of course) of executing a non-guilty party and the idea the the death penalty is not deterrent.

    Why not stop all of the litigation that leads to high cost of endless appeals ? For example stopping lethal injections because of pain and suffering ? What are we doing here ? These murders who have been convicted have created untold agony on their victims. How would you like to have your limbs cut-off. Do you think that is fun, then get paroled and then actually kill someone.

    I guarantee you if we started executing California inmates right now especially these gang members who kill people without a bit of remorse the murder rate will go down.

  67. I want to thank everyone for the lively discussion and for sharing your opinions. I want to respond to a few of the points raised by Mr. Dudley Sharp in particular. While I certainly agree with Mr. Sharp that Radelet and Lacock do not and cannot claim that the death penalty would never deter a single person, I believe this is not the core of the current discussion. The more relevant question is whether the death penalty, given its finality and irreversibility, is the most adequate punishment for capital murder.

    I like Mr. Sharp’s approach of looking at the death penalty from two different angles (one of them assuming that the death penalty is indeed a deterrent, and the other one assuming that it is not), and to evaluate the merits of capital punishment based on each scenario. I do, however, think that Mr. Sharp ignores some very significant points in his analysis. According to him, “(i)f there is deterrence and we execute, we save innocent lives via deterrence and by preventing murderers from ever harming again. If there is deterrence and we fail to execute, we sacrifice more innocent lives by reduced deterrence and, additionally, put more innocents at risk, because living murderers are always more likely to harm again, than are executed ones. If there is no deterrence and we execute, we protect more innocents because of enhanced incapacitation. If there is no deterrence and we don’t execute, more innocents are at risk because the murderer is still alive.” While this argument might sound appealing to death penalty proponents, there are a few significant omissions from it. If we look at capital punishment from a broader perspective, we will see some very core points missing:

    – Given that the U.S. justice system as a whole is prone to mistakes and given that the death penalty is the only irreversible punishment and the ultimate violation of human rights, there is always the risk that innocent people will be placed on death row and will be executed—an event no less tragic and awful than the murder of an innocent victim on the streets. In fact, since the official reinstatement of the death penalty in the United States in 1976, there have been 135 cases nationwide (click here for a state-by-state breakdown) of people being exonerated from death row because of new evidence proving their innocence. In many cases, people were exonerated after spending more than a decade on death row. Having the very real probability of executing an innocent person or of keeping an innocent person on death row for decades is, in my opinion, a very significant reason why the death penalty is flawed and should not be considered an adequate punishment in any justice system (and it no longer is in more than two thirds of the countries across the world).

    – The way the death penalty is carried out in the United States at the moment allows for the execution of mentally ill patients, since the current definition of mental illness in death penalty cases is too narrow and does not acknowledge the health condition and needs of many prisoners suffering from mental illness. A recent report entitled “Double Tragedies” tells the stories of murder victim families, as well as the families of mentally ill people who have been executed. Both groups have joined forces to condemn the use of the death penalty against prisoners with mental illness. Their stories and efforts illustrate that, in its current form, capital punishment in the United States carries the real risk of condemning and killing people who are sick, something that should be of great concern to death penalty proponents.

    – The death penalty in the U.S. is very arbitrary in its application—capital punishment is sought by prosecutors a lot more frequently if the murder victim is white than if he/she is of a different racial or ethnic origin; the application of capital punishment depends on the location of the trial and the intricacies of local politics; out of all the crimes eligible for the death sentence, only two percent actually receive it. This means that two different defendants who have committed one and the same offense can (and often do) receive very different punishments (one of which could be death), depending on their location, on local politics and on pure chance.

    – The death penalty perpetuates the cycle of violence, by killing people (even in the absence of a guarantee that they are not innocent, mentally ill, or victims to political power-play) in order to condemn other random and arbitrary killings. It is hard to evade the hypocrisy in such an act.
    When all of these facts are taken into consideration, I think it is more accurate to phrase Mr. Shrap’s argument in the following manner: If there is no deterrence and we execute, we risk executing innocent or mentally ill people and creating more victims and more suffering. If there is deterrence and we execute, we still risk killing people who are innocent and we eliminate the possibility for healing for those who are sick; we perpetuate the cycle of violence by killing to condemn killing and we make the statement that even if the system is flawed, prone to mistakes and arbitrariness, we are more concerned with finality than justice and fairness.

    Now, on the question of deterrence alone, I cannot comment on the 16 studies that Mr. Sharp cites, as he does not describe their methodology and results. I do, however, want to note that in such studies, especially ones that involve econometric work (like the Mocan and Gittings study described by Radelet/Lacock) methodology is crucial. Anyone who has ever been involved with econometrics knows that the slightest change in an assumption, coefficient or data selection can lead to drastically different results, as was the case with Mocan/Gittings, whose study results changed significantly and showed no deterrence effects once each of two core mistakes in their data gathering and coefficient selection were corrected. I am not saying that the studies Mr. Sharp cites have similar inconsistencies, since I have never seen them. I am only saying that their methodology needs to be examined carefully before their conclusions are taken at face value.

    As to the Radelet/Lacock study, it did not involve any regression or estimation work. What the study does is simply survey the opinions of core criminologists, a large majority of whom did not believe (based on their years of experience in the field) that the death penalty provides any significant deterrence compared to life imprisonment. I agree with Mr. Sharp, this conclusion is by no means saying that there will not be a single person out there deterred by capital punishment, neither are Radelet and Lacock claiming that this is their survey’s conclusion. The more important question is, given that the death penalty is arbitrary and disproportionate, given that it is proven that innocent people can and do end up condemned to death, given that mentally ill people risk execution, given that capital punishment only creates more victims and perpetuates the cycle of killing, is the death penalty really a better option compared to life imprisonment, especially if a majority of criminology experts don’t believe it to be a stronger deterrent?

  68. Yes, one of the unfortunate side affects of letting convicted murderers sit on death role until they become mentally incapacitated is certainly a work-around for death penalty opponents. There was a case in Texas exactly like this several years ago. Of course one could argue that anyone who, may be just recently in Florida, cold heartedly murders two people might be considered mentally ill. Gosh, I guess by your own reasoning one might ask what the mental state of the victim was to cause a mental breakdown that only serves to aggravate the perpetrator.

    I will agree that the mental state of the perpetrators is certainly different than mine.

    Of course there is the race card that is always played at every instance.

    The problem here is that people make statements: "Given that the U.S. justice system as a whole is prone to mistakes" without any works cited or data to support the argument. I could agree with this argument but then that might point out that many criminals get off without punishment do to a technical problem maybe even caused by the defense lawyer. How many have gotten away with murder ?

    Then of course there is the age old argument about mistakes. Yes, this world is imperfect so by allowing imperfection we should doubt ourselves. Why ? We don't apply this thinking to automobiles, dangerous surgery, etc. Life has an inherent risk associated with it.

    Would it be better for you if we put them on an island and let them fend for themselves. Hook them up with something that if they escaped it would terminate them. Oh but that would cruel wouldn't it. No health benefits, education etc.

    I am not talking about not rehabilitating people who have not crossed the line. Pre-mediated murder, whether by the mafia or a gang is crossing the line. Death by firing squad in a public place is the answer for at least some of these callous cold-blooded people.

  69. All I can do is give one example. Canada. They have no death penalty. Their crime rate does not even come close to that in The United States. So the whole jive about the death penalty being a deterrent is exactly that…jive

  70. Unfortunately, your reasoning is illogical. The fallacy is that because there is not a death their crime rate is lower. That would of course to the same fallacy of logic that is the current argument, that the crime rate is higher where there is a death penalty.

    Scientific reasoning is built upon removing variable that create a relationship that is unequal. For example, has murder been historically been low in Canada. What factors make Canada different than the US. With your logic you might also conclude that French speaking countries have a lower incidence of crime but I hopefully (fingers crossed) see the ridiculousness of that idea !!!

    How is the crime rate in Hong Kong, they cane people for some very petty things than we do don't they….

  71. I want to thank everyone for the lively discussion and for sharing your opinions. I want to respond to a few of the points raised by Mr. Dudley Sharp in particular. While I certainly agree with Mr. Sharp that Radelet and Lacock do not and cannot claim that the death penalty would never deter a single person, I believe this is not the core of the current discussion. The more relevant question is whether the death penalty, given its finality and irreversibility, is the most adequate punishment for capital murder.

    I like Mr. Sharp’s approach of looking at the death penalty from two different angles (one of them assuming that the death penalty is indeed a deterrent, and the other one assuming that it is not), and to evaluate the merits of capital punishment based on each scenario. I do, however, think that Mr. Sharp ignores some very significant points in his analysis. According to him, “(i)f there is deterrence and we execute, we save innocent lives via deterrence and by preventing murderers from ever harming again. If there is deterrence and we fail to execute, we sacrifice more innocent lives by reduced deterrence and, additionally, put more innocents at risk, because living murderers are always more likely to harm again, than are executed ones. If there is no deterrence and we execute, we protect more innocents because of enhanced incapacitation. If there is no deterrence and we don’t execute, more innocents are at risk because the murderer is still alive.” While this argument might sound appealing to death penalty proponents, there are a few significant omissions from it. If we look at capital punishment from a broader perspective, we will see some very core points missing:

    – Given that the U.S. justice system as a whole is prone to mistakes and given that the death penalty is the only irreversible punishment and the ultimate violation of human rights, there is always the risk that innocent people will be placed on death row and will be executed—an event no less tragic and awful than the murder of an innocent victim on the streets. In fact, since the official reinstatement of the death penalty in the United States in 1976, there have been 135 cases nationwide (click here for a state-by-state breakdown) of people being exonerated from death row because of new evidence proving their innocence. In many cases, people were exonerated after spending more than a decade on death row. Having the very real probability of executing an innocent person or of keeping an innocent person on death row for decades is, in my opinion, a very significant reason why the death penalty is flawed and should not be considered an adequate punishment in any justice system (and it no longer is in more than two thirds of the countries across the world).

    – The way the death penalty is carried out in the United States at the moment allows for the execution of mentally ill patients, since the current definition of mental illness in death penalty cases is too narrow and does not acknowledge the health condition and needs of many prisoners suffering from mental illness. A recent report entitled “Double Tragedies” tells the stories of murder victim families, as well as the families of mentally ill people who have been executed. Both groups have joined forces to condemn the use of the death penalty against prisoners with mental illness. Their stories and efforts illustrate that, in its current form, capital punishment in the United States carries the real risk of condemning and killing people who are sick, something that should be of great concern to death penalty proponents.

    – The death penalty in the U.S. is very arbitrary in its application—capital punishment is sought by prosecutors a lot more frequently if the murder victim is white than if he/she is of a different racial or ethnic origin; the application of capital punishment depends on the location of the trial and the intricacies of local politics; out of all the crimes eligible for the death sentence, only two percent actually receive it. This means that two different defendants who have committed one and the same offense can (and often do) receive very different punishments (one of which could be death), depending on their location, on local politics and on pure chance.

    – The death penalty perpetuates the cycle of violence, by killing people (even in the absence of a guarantee that they are not innocent, mentally ill, or victims to political power-play) in order to condemn other random and arbitrary killings. It is hard to evade the hypocrisy in such an act.
    When all of these facts are taken into consideration, I think it is more accurate to phrase Mr. Shrap’s argument in the following manner: If there is no deterrence and we execute, we risk executing innocent or mentally ill people and creating more victims and more suffering. If there is deterrence and we execute, we still risk killing people who are innocent and we eliminate the possibility for healing for those who are sick; we perpetuate the cycle of violence by killing to condemn killing and we make the statement that even if the system is flawed, prone to mistakes and arbitrariness, we are more concerned with finality than justice and fairness.

    Now, on the question of deterrence alone, I cannot comment on the 16 studies that Mr. Sharp cites, as he does not describe their methodology and results. I do, however, want to note that in such studies, especially ones that involve econometric work (like the Mocan and Gittings study described by Radelet/Lacock) methodology is crucial. Anyone who has ever been involved with econometrics knows that the slightest change in an assumption, coefficient or data selection can lead to drastically different results, as was the case with Mocan/Gittings, whose study results changed significantly and showed no deterrence effects once each of two core mistakes in their data gathering and coefficient selection were corrected. I am not saying that the studies Mr. Sharp cites have similar inconsistencies, since I have never seen them. I am only saying that their methodology needs to be examined carefully before their conclusions are taken at face value.

    As to the Radelet/Lacock study, it did not involve any regression or estimation work. What the study does is simply survey the opinions of core criminologists, a large majority of whom did not believe (based on their years of experience in the field) that the death penalty provides any significant deterrence compared to life imprisonment. I agree with Mr. Sharp, this conclusion is by no means saying that there will not be a single person out there deterred by capital punishment, neither are Radelet and Lacock claiming that this is their survey’s conclusion. The more important question is, given that the death penalty is arbitrary and disproportionate, given that it is proven that innocent people can and do end up condemned to death, given that mentally ill people risk execution, given that capital punishment only creates more victims and perpetuates the cycle of killing, is the death penalty really a better option compared to life imprisonment, especially if a majority of criminology experts don’t believe it to be a stronger deterrent?

  72. Yes, one of the unfortunate side affects of letting convicted murderers sit on death role until they become mentally incapacitated is certainly a work-around for death penalty opponents. There was a case in Texas exactly like this several years ago. Of course one could argue that anyone who, may be just recently in Florida, cold heartedly murders two people might be considered mentally ill. Gosh, I guess by your own reasoning one might ask what the mental state of the victim was to cause a mental breakdown that only serves to aggravate the perpetrator.

    I will agree that the mental state of the perpetrators is certainly different than mine.

    Of course there is the race card that is always played at every instance.

    The problem here is that people make statements: “Given that the U.S. justice system as a whole is prone to mistakes” without any works cited or data to support the argument. I could agree with this argument but then that might point out that many criminals get off without punishment do to a technical problem maybe even caused by the defense lawyer. How many have gotten away with murder ?

    Then of course there is the age old argument about mistakes. Yes, this world is imperfect so by allowing imperfection we should doubt ourselves. Why ? We don’t apply this thinking to automobiles, dangerous surgery, etc. Life has an inherent risk associated with it.

    Would it be better for you if we put them on an island and let them fend for themselves. Hook them up with something that if they escaped it would terminate them. Oh but that would cruel wouldn’t it. No health benefits, education etc.

    I am not talking about not rehabilitating people who have not crossed the line. Pre-mediated murder, whether by the mafia or a gang is crossing the line. Death by firing squad in a public place is the answer for at least some of these callous cold-blooded people.

  73. All I can do is give one example. Canada. They have no death penalty. Their crime rate does not even come close to that in The United States. So the whole jive about the death penalty being a deterrent is exactly that…jive

  74. Unfortunately, your reasoning is illogical. The fallacy is that because there is not a death their crime rate is lower. That would of course to the same fallacy of logic that is the current argument, that the crime rate is higher where there is a death penalty.

    Scientific reasoning is built upon removing variable that create a relationship that is unequal. For example, has murder been historically been low in Canada. What factors make Canada different than the US. With your logic you might also conclude that French speaking countries have a lower incidence of crime but I hopefully (fingers crossed) see the ridiculousness of that idea !!!

    How is the crime rate in Hong Kong, they cane people for some very petty things than we do don’t they….

  75. The issue at hand here is not whether the death penalty is a deterrent, but whether it is JUST. If all punishments were related only to their deterrent factors, then we would have to study all of them, and only implement them if they're truly deterrent. Where's the study on jail time for thieves, then? Oh, we don't look at that, because we choose not to see it as awful as we do Capital Punishment. I think we would find that no matter what the crime, there are some people that WILL commit it and some that won't, regardless of the punishment.

    Society must be just because there's no other basis that it can defend itself on; one person's 'Mercy' can be another person's 'con game'. I imagine that some (and who cares how many? That's a meaningless argument; even ONE makes it count) people would kill just to have a lifetime of structure, order, and free food.

    Some people give money to bums, some people only donate to social services because they feel that if given directly to the bums it's wasted…both sides have points. Society must choose the one with the most justice (which is why society generally chooses social services…because they're taking your money at gunpoint to give to others[anything any government does, their ultimate recourse is gunpoint], they must do the one that makes the most sense, and will be most likely to have benefit.)

    It is society's role to be JUST (with occasional nods to mercy). Society must look to the needs of all citizens, and the only way to do that is to be as just as possible. So I would say that, for example, in the case of a rapist/murderer, caught on tape, with no mitigating circumstances, that that is a capital crime, and you would be hard-pressed to defend him, or to say that it is not JUST for him to be put to death, as you would a rabid dog. Sometimes there's nothing you can do.

    Now, does that mean that all murderers warrant death? No, of course not. But society must start from the position of justice and move towards mercy, just as the individual must start from the perspective of mercy and move towards justice. (And for those religious among the posters: JC himself said to render to caesar what is caesar's and to god what is god's…I've always felt that went beyond its original context and towards the idea that the government is different from the individual, and must be.)

    So I would easily concede, if you wish, that the death penalty is often applied too liberally. And I certainly support moratoriums, to suspend proceedings if there's any question. But I come back to the idea of a killer caught on tape murdering, raping, butchering, torturing. Would it be right, or just, to allow that person to continue to breathe? How many victims would it take before it was no longer just? These are the questions, and the grey area, of the death penalty.

    Perhaps someday we'll get to the point where we only judge as "Capital offenses" those things that people don't do anymore. Perhaps some day there won't BE anyone who tortures and rapes and kills, only regular murderers who don't necessarily warrant death themselves. Then we would have abolished the Death Penalty in practice if not in fact, and I think we could all be happy with that, neh?

    And as a side note to those who point to statistics that show minorities are more likely to be sentenced to death, I would say that it is racist of you to assume racism. Correlation does not imply causation. Perhaps more black people are executed because more black people commit more heinous crimes? And perhaps that's not related to their race but instead to their socio-economic status, which I think we can all agree is statistically significant? And perhaps, regardless of one's social status, and financial state, one is still responsible for one's own actions? I'm just saying. Now, if there's a study I haven't seen that analyzes the cases, and sentences, of a given population, I might support the idea that it's racist. But without that data, it is presumptive of you to cry racism when there's so many other explanations. (Of course, racism IS an explanation, and a possibility, I really don't want to try to belittle it. Racism is an awful disease of humanity, one we have, unfortunately, yet to extinguish. I live for the day that we have the last vial of smallpox and the last racist both locked in rooms somewhere by the CDC. It's entirely possible that it IS racism. But I give the benefit of the doubt until an abundance of evidence, beyond one piece of circumstantial evidence [a single attribute of correlation] because that is the right thing to do.)

  76. The issue at hand here is not whether the death penalty is a deterrent, but whether it is JUST. If all punishments were related only to their deterrent factors, then we would have to study all of them, and only implement them if they’re truly deterrent. Where’s the study on jail time for thieves, then? Oh, we don’t look at that, because we choose not to see it as awful as we do Capital Punishment. I think we would find that no matter what the crime, there are some people that WILL commit it and some that won’t, regardless of the punishment.

    Society must be just because there’s no other basis that it can defend itself on; one person’s ‘Mercy’ can be another person’s ‘con game’. I imagine that some (and who cares how many? That’s a meaningless argument; even ONE makes it count) people would kill just to have a lifetime of structure, order, and free food.

    Some people give money to bums, some people only donate to social services because they feel that if given directly to the bums it’s wasted…both sides have points. Society must choose the one with the most justice (which is why society generally chooses social services…because they’re taking your money at gunpoint to give to others[anything any government does, their ultimate recourse is gunpoint], they must do the one that makes the most sense, and will be most likely to have benefit.)

    It is society’s role to be JUST (with occasional nods to mercy). Society must look to the needs of all citizens, and the only way to do that is to be as just as possible. So I would say that, for example, in the case of a rapist/murderer, caught on tape, with no mitigating circumstances, that that is a capital crime, and you would be hard-pressed to defend him, or to say that it is not JUST for him to be put to death, as you would a rabid dog. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do.

    Now, does that mean that all murderers warrant death? No, of course not. But society must start from the position of justice and move towards mercy, just as the individual must start from the perspective of mercy and move towards justice. (And for those religious among the posters: JC himself said to render to caesar what is caesar’s and to god what is god’s…I’ve always felt that went beyond its original context and towards the idea that the government is different from the individual, and must be.)

    So I would easily concede, if you wish, that the death penalty is often applied too liberally. And I certainly support moratoriums, to suspend proceedings if there’s any question. But I come back to the idea of a killer caught on tape murdering, raping, butchering, torturing. Would it be right, or just, to allow that person to continue to breathe? How many victims would it take before it was no longer just? These are the questions, and the grey area, of the death penalty.

    Perhaps someday we’ll get to the point where we only judge as “Capital offenses” those things that people don’t do anymore. Perhaps some day there won’t BE anyone who tortures and rapes and kills, only regular murderers who don’t necessarily warrant death themselves. Then we would have abolished the Death Penalty in practice if not in fact, and I think we could all be happy with that, neh?

    And as a side note to those who point to statistics that show minorities are more likely to be sentenced to death, I would say that it is racist of you to assume racism. Correlation does not imply causation. Perhaps more black people are executed because more black people commit more heinous crimes? And perhaps that’s not related to their race but instead to their socio-economic status, which I think we can all agree is statistically significant? And perhaps, regardless of one’s social status, and financial state, one is still responsible for one’s own actions? I’m just saying. Now, if there’s a study I haven’t seen that analyzes the cases, and sentences, of a given population, I might support the idea that it’s racist. But without that data, it is presumptive of you to cry racism when there’s so many other explanations. (Of course, racism IS an explanation, and a possibility, I really don’t want to try to belittle it. Racism is an awful disease of humanity, one we have, unfortunately, yet to extinguish. I live for the day that we have the last vial of smallpox and the last racist both locked in rooms somewhere by the CDC. It’s entirely possible that it IS racism. But I give the benefit of the doubt until an abundance of evidence, beyond one piece of circumstantial evidence [a single attribute of correlation] because that is the right thing to do.)

  77. As the old saying goes, "When are we going to stop killing people to show that killing people is wrong?"

  78. As the old saying goes, “When are we going to stop killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”

  79. This type of thinking is part of the problem..We are not trying to show people killing is wrong…..We are trying to demonstrate to those who would purposely take someone else's life that theirs will be forfeited as well…Morality, as many of you liberals point out, is not the job of the government but starts in the home….

  80. This type of thinking is part of the problem..We are not trying to show people killing is wrong…..We are trying to demonstrate to those who would purposely take someone else’s life that theirs will be forfeited as well…Morality, as many of you liberals point out, is not the job of the government but starts in the home….

  81. Marvallous Keene executed in Ohio.

    1992 Christmas killing spree in Dayton, Ohio left 6 people dead. Among the victims:

    An 18 year old mother

    A 38 year old woman working as a convenient store cashier who was shot in the head after handing over $30

    A Marvin Washington and a Wendy Cottrill who were a couple of teenagers that Keene knew and feared would turn him in

    Start the violons for this cold-blooded killer

    Thank you Gov (D) Ted Strickland for denying clemency for this man

  82. Gee….What are the chances he will do this again….Scientist's, wea re waiting for your empirical eveidence :}…..

  83. Marvallous Keene executed in Ohio.

    1992 Christmas killing spree in Dayton, Ohio left 6 people dead. Among the victims:

    An 18 year old mother

    A 38 year old woman working as a convenient store cashier who was shot in the head after handing over $30

    A Marvin Washington and a Wendy Cottrill who were a couple of teenagers that Keene knew and feared would turn him in

    Start the violons for this cold-blooded killer

    Thank you Gov (D) Ted Strickland for denying clemency for this man

  84. Gee….What are the chances he will do this again….Scientist’s, wea re waiting for your empirical eveidence :}…..

  85. Pingback: U.S. Homicide Rates and the Death Penalty | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

  86. Glen, whether you personally consider it a justification for the death penalty, or whether you consider it irrelevant to the debate, for many people, the view that the death penalty deters is a premier justification for capital punishment. The argument that killing the bad stops killing the good is a strong moral argument, and when you remove it, you're left with the harsh reality: taxpayer funded judicially-sanctioned killing. If killing serves no purpose, it is, to quote Justice White, "the needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes", which "would be patently excessive".

    Morality is certainly not the job of government – if it was, the argument that. government should take a life for a life simply as a moral statement would have more weight.

  87. Let's be real clear on this idea for my own personal course of action that is not subject to the deep thinkers who have already done enough damage to our culture, if you kill me or someone in my family through an act act of murder i.e. drive by shootings, bank robbery, home invasion, etc you should and will lose your life. I don't care how you lose it. You have given up all rights to life when you take someone else's. So there it is, clear, precise and exactly what I believe and would enforce…….Let's leave God, the president, the EU, and all the other free thinkers out of the argument. Justice is served when justice is understood and accepted……

  88. Glen, whether you personally consider it a justification for the death penalty, or whether you consider it irrelevant to the debate, for many people, the view that the death penalty deters is a premier justification for capital punishment. The argument that killing the bad stops killing the good is a strong moral argument, and when you remove it, you’re left with the harsh reality: taxpayer funded judicially-sanctioned killing. If killing serves no purpose, it is, to quote Justice White, “the needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes”, which “would be patently excessive”.

    Morality is certainly not the job of government – if it was, the argument that. government should take a life for a life simply as a moral statement would have more weight.

  89. Let’s be real clear on this idea for my own personal course of action that is not subject to the deep thinkers who have already done enough damage to our culture, if you kill me or someone in my family through an act act of murder i.e. drive by shootings, bank robbery, home invasion, etc you should and will lose your life. I don’t care how you lose it. You have given up all rights to life when you take someone else’s. So there it is, clear, precise and exactly what I believe and would enforce…….Let’s leave God, the president, the EU, and all the other free thinkers out of the argument. Justice is served when justice is understood and accepted……

  90. For me, one false execution is one too many. The recent developments surrounding Cameron Todd Willingham (who was executed), sickens me. The execution of Girves Davis (who was retarded AND illiterate and signed a murder confession and the LEOs knew it) sickened me. FYI, it was watching my aunt deal with the murder of my cousin that changed my mind. She said that God's law should only be enacted by God and no one else–Life without parole was the only choice for our loved one's perp-no more and no less.

    How many cases have we seen in this country where one person was sent to death row for a crime only to find out that the actual perpetrator committed ANOTHER MURDER or another violent crime? Deterrent?- I think not and the fact that an innocent person is sent to prison or death row is the biggest slap in the face to the murder victim's families.

    To Mr/Ms Capital Punishment, for every Marvallous Keene, I can counter with a Clarence Brandley, Kerry Max Cook, Paul House, Shareef Cousin, Delbert Tibbs, Leonel Herrera, Glen Edward Chapman, and that's the just the tip of the iceberg.

    For those who present the lame argument that race has nothing to do with sentencing, or the lame reason that blacks are sentenced more often is because they commit more crimes, do tell us why the Innocence Project states that more blacks are EXONERATED? Please don't cite the usual band of stats from Uniform Crime reports as they are only based on arrests, and not convictions and please avoid the klan-esque New Century Foundation or national policy institue.

  91. For me, one false execution is one too many. The recent developments surrounding Cameron Todd Willingham (who was executed), sickens me. The execution of Girves Davis (who was retarded AND illiterate and signed a murder confession and the LEOs knew it) sickened me. FYI, it was watching my aunt deal with the murder of my cousin that changed my mind. She said that God’s law should only be enacted by God and no one else–Life without parole was the only choice for our loved one’s perp-no more and no less.

    How many cases have we seen in this country where one person was sent to death row for a crime only to find out that the actual perpetrator committed ANOTHER MURDER or another violent crime? Deterrent?- I think not and the fact that an innocent person is sent to prison or death row is the biggest slap in the face to the murder victim’s families.

    To Mr/Ms Capital Punishment, for every Marvallous Keene, I can counter with a Clarence Brandley, Kerry Max Cook, Paul House, Shareef Cousin, Delbert Tibbs, Leonel Herrera, Glen Edward Chapman, and that’s the just the tip of the iceberg.

    For those who present the lame argument that race has nothing to do with sentencing, or the lame reason that blacks are sentenced more often is because they commit more crimes, do tell us why the Innocence Project states that more blacks are EXONERATED? Please don’t cite the usual band of stats from Uniform Crime reports as they are only based on arrests, and not convictions and please avoid the klan-esque New Century Foundation or national policy institue.

  92. Pingback: Police Chiefs to Death Penalty: Drop Dead | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

  93. Pingback: FBI: States without capital punishment generally had lower homicide rates than the states that execute | Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty