Posted by: alsys | July 15, 2009

Capital Punishment: The Ultimate Deterrent?

Due to the recent (and not so recent) spate of violent deaths, there has been much talk about the lenience of our laws pertaining to murder and manslaughter. It is commonly joked that you do less time for murder than you do for causing another’s death. this is obviously not totally true but the perception is that the court system is not stringent enough.

Over the weekend, when discussing the horrific murder of Ms. DeRosa, the subject of capital punishment came up in a couple of conversations that I had. My personal opinion is that capital punishment is something that should be reinstated, as I do see it as a deterrent. It will obviously not deter all but it may do some. I do understand that it seems a bit like revenge and many find it too strong a response but I was wondering how others feel about this issue?


Responses

  1. I agree with the use of the death penalty. It is the ultimate deterrent for individuals not to committ atrocities against a fellow human being.

    I find it only fair that if you deemed yourself fit enough to end anothers life then you should have no qualms about another making that same decision over your life.

  2. A number things concern me about such a step:

    1) The slective and no doubt deliberate ommission by Attorney’s to submit as evidence material that could weaken their chances of a successful prosecution.
    2) Jury’s are not infallible and have in the main, only that which is presented to them on which to make a decision.
    3) The sure certainty that we have executed people – who were innocent.

    The one aspect of developing law that gives me more hope that society could eventually make the right decision, is the use of DNA.

  3. @ JMad:Which is the way I see it also. Everything a person does comes down to a choice and a consequence, cause and effect.

  4. I disagree with the practice of capital punishment, and would not support it being reintroduced in Bermuda.

    First, I believe there is no significant deterrent effect from the practice. One good place to look to test this hypothesis is the United States, where each state is allowed to determine for itself whether to institute the death penalty. Comparing the by-state statistics for violent crime (care of the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004) with the state’s position on capital punishment, we observe that the average rates of violent crime are actually lower in states that do not practice the death penalty than in those that do – I’d be happy to share this back-of-the-envelope analysis with anyone who wants it. I do not pretend to make a causal link here (it may be that states with low levels of violent crime do not feel the need to execute criminals) but this definitely suggests that the presence of the ultimate punishment does not have a meaningful deterrent effect. Thankfully I don’t know any murderers personally, but I would imagine that the majority of them act impulsively, irrationally and instinctively when committing their crimes – this does not absolve them from blame, but does mean that they are not considering the consequences and hence will not be deterred from committing their crime by the presence of the death penalty.

    Morally, I am extremely uncomfortable with the possibility of executing an innocent individual, enough to say that I would be willing forgo executing even the most obviously guilty felon to prevent the possibility of even one mistake. That’s simply a personal position.

    Finally, I think if it were me facing punishment, death would be a welcome option to life in prison without possibility of parole. A number of people have pointed out that the current system does not hand out long enough sentences, that parole is too easy to come by, and that prison in Bermuda (aka Hotel Westgate) isn’t really all that unpleasant – in response, I would point out that our options are not simply the current system or one involving the death penalty, and I would be very much in favour of a third way that involved increased sentences, reduced parole possibilities, and restrictions of many of the niceties currently enjoyed by the incarcerated.

    I’m sure many who read this will automatically come to the conclusion that those who oppose the death penalty are soft on crime, or insensitive to the families of victims – this is not the case. I do feel, however, that the rush to execute will not solve our crime problem, could potentially exacerbate it (as a government that commits violence in effect endorses it), and is not the solution we need.

  5. I don’t think it will solve our crime problem at all, but I do believe that it will assist in deterring or making them think twice individuals from freely shooting at one another and raping or murdering innocent individuals.

    Even the most hardened criminal cannot claim that the thought of losing their life is something that they wouldn’t take into consideration when planning or attempting to commit a crime.

    I also don’t see how it is fair to the victims family. Here you have someone who murdered your loved one(s) and what is their punishment. A guaranteed roof over their head and three square meals a day. While I know it isn’t paradise it is still a better place then where they put their victims.

    On top of that imprisoning someone for any period of time isn’t free. It comes at the cost of teh taxpayer. I believe I read somewhere recently that it costs the Bdian taxpayer nearly $70,000 a year for each prisoner. So while the families of the victims mourn everyday for their loss, they are at the same time paying their hard earned money for the perpetrators to stay alive and healthy. I don’t know just seems a little unjust to me.

    At the same time I wouldn’t expect the death penalty to be doled out for every murder case. There would have to be many factors and variables involved. The biggest one being intent or premeditation.

  6. Heck NO!

    I’m sorry y’all, but I cannot support capital – or corporal – punishment whatsoever. No way.

    Such means do not serve as a deterrent one bit. When people commit a crime they either do it impulsively without considering the consequences, or they succumb to the gambler’s belief that they won’t get caught, so the consequences are immaterial.

    What corporal/capital punishment does do however is LEGITIMISE the use of force to settle disputes. Ultimately, it actually reinforces the very thing you set out to end with it – its one of those means determine ends things.

    Furthermore, there is always the risk of punishing an innocent, and that alone is too much for me. I’m all for killing someone in self-defence, but cold blooded state sanctioned murder, heck no.

  7. One of the views that we hear frequently in this debate is that sentencing is inadequate. Heck – we even joke about it when talking about marriage…”If I had murdered the wife, I would have been free by now”. Blah, blah.

    Says a lot when we make jokes about it.

    Maybe, however subtly, our approach to incarceration has been kidnapped with thinking like…”prisoners have rights too you know”. “He’s a changed person”.

    Well yes they have rights – but have we watered down the threat of prison (unwittingly or otherwise) by how we apply those rights.

    I struggle with the words “life sentence”, which doesn’t mean “life”. I also struggle with the whole idea of parole. Why should there be parole for a murderer? Parole for what? A reward? Recognition that “someone can change”? “He could be making a useful contribution to society”.

    So, someone can change – so what. The murdered are still – dead.

    We need somehow to restore some faith into society that when someone takes a life, then they forfeit the right to live in this society as the rest of us do. Life must mean life.

    Maybe in those circumstances the call for the death penalty will diminish.

  8. In agreement with you there, mate.

    The only thing capital punishment does is cut down on recidivism.

    There is too much scope for the execution of innocent people to allow capital punishment.

  9. I used to be against it, then I was for it, and it’s gone back and forth since then.

    In Bermuda, where the prevailing thought is that our local prisons are equivalent to the resort that Martha Stewart spent time in not too long ago, it should be clear that the current policies aren’t serving as any kind of deterrent.

    I’m sure the Amnesty International folk will get upset at this idea, but our prisons need to become a bit more uncomfortable. Make them work, feel some pain. Cut off the apparent easy access to drugs (and cell phones?!).

    I don’t necessarily dislike the concept of parole, but like Martin says, it shouldn’t be so easily attainable by simply not doing anything else wrong while locked up. Show that you are remorseful and willing to sacrifice. For example, donate to victims (or victim’s funds, or other charities), volunteer above and beyond.

    As for capital punishment itself, I detest murder. And people who deliberately kill with violence children and the elderly need a special place in hell. I currently would not have a problem if it was reinstated, although as has been said earlier, proof must be absolute, DNA evidence and the like must be crystal clear.

  10. Perhaps rather than allowing the government to legally murder those responsible of a crime we should fix the system which punishes those that are on probation already with.. More probation.

    Bermuda’s judicial system is often a joke, the police catch the person and by the end of their trial they walk out of court laughing.

    How about the first step should be a system that sends those who deserve it to prison and like a few people have already said, lets make our prison a little less comfortable. A little bit of hard work never hurt anyone, as long as it is safe and needs are taken well care of I see no problem to some forced labour to build character and dicipline.

  11. I’m not really for capital punishment either. The only time I would consider it would be if the murder was premeditated or a combination of rape and murder. Even then I’d probably go back and forth about it.

    I do think the justice system needs an overhaul though. I find judges far too lenient, the prisons too lax and the governement not proactive. Capital and corporeal punishment is not the answer though. Crime exists for many reasons usually because of a lack of resources and or drugs. You need to get to the heart of the matter in order to truly combat the problem.

    Capital punishment will never be allowed to occur in Bermuda however without independence. The British gov’t will not allow it and I got that strait from Sir Richard.

  12. I think it’s necessary to speak to those family members affected by murder. Let’s be perfectly clear here. The conviction must be of Murder 1 – premeditated murder. Not any other varying degree (which the Deroza case may end up being). It has to be defined as premeditated murder. One where the killer had actually pre-planned and performed the act.

    It is ever so easy for those people who have never experienced the pain of losing a loved one to a heinous crime like murder to be against capital punishment. I’m not so sure any one of us could be so generous if it was someone we loved dearly that was taken from us.

    How would you feel? How can you honestly say that if some deranged idiot stalked your child, raped and killed her that you would be so forgiving to allow them a life sentence in prison. I know I wouldn’t be that… open minded.

    I like to believe that I am a liberal minded person. To a point. I think a lot of our laws are out-dated and need revision/ removal from the books, but I do not know how I could look a mother in the eye and tell her that her child’s killer, CONVICTED OF PREMEDITATED MURDER… doesn’t deserve to die.

    Don’t speak to me of statistics, don’t speak to me of what is effective and what isn’t. Speak to me of WHAT WOULD YOU DO??? If it was your family member, your loved one, your child.

    Capital punishment must be seen as the absolute consequence for the absolute definitive crime of premeditated murder.

  13. I can’t adopt the ‘how I would feel’, because I have never been in that situation and indeed hopefully never will.

    It’s tempting to go that way, but the ‘you killed so we must kill you’ just doesn’t work for me. And, if we are not careful, we move from ‘justice’ to ‘revenge’ as the motivation which leads us nowhere.

    And I am not going anywhere near the ‘eye for an eye’ thing for different reasons.

    I like the “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime” idea. It’s lost its impact where murder is concerned because we get into technical arguments about sanity, premeditation, the varying types of homicide with different sentencing guidlines etc. Add to that, arguments about whether eveidence can be used/not used because of a technicality, and we start to loose sight of what actually happened.

    I have to come back to ‘life must mean life’ and without parole. It removes the person from society, and it allows for any errors of judgement to be correctable.

    That’s what I would do; incarcerate permanently.

  14. I am not sure on this. The problem is, unless you have video proof or something just as concrete, there is always the chance it may be the wrong person.

    I would wager though, those against it right now would change their tune if they found their mother, sister or daughter brutally raped and murdered. You would have to be strong in your convictions to be OK with knowing the murderer would be ‘out in 10’. And then if it happened again once the killer was released? Is that not akin to sentencing that second person to death?

    This is an issue that will be debated for a long time.

    It should not be an issue here, on an island so small. This once again all gets back to education. If we raise enlightened minds from birth and nurture them throughout their youth, at home, in school in the neighborhood, this would not be an issue. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that there are parents out there who just do not care, wether they are too young, or mentally and emotionally damaged themselves. It is a vicious cycle.

    I know Jonny said he could not even stand for corporal punishment, but perhaps the little finger off a thief, or castrating a rapist, removing the feet of a killer, would go a long way to reducing these events. Fear is a good motivator.

    This is the price you pay when you do not want to put work into raising your children.

    I am on the fence here. I can go on about how wrong it is to take a life, I don’t even like killing bugs. But I just don’t know what I would do if something like that happened to a family member or close friend.

  15. At there very least, life in prison should be life in prison, until that person is deceased. No parole. No cable TV. No visits. Nothing.

  16. “You would have to be strong in your convictions to be OK with knowing the murderer would be ‘out in 10′. And then if it happened again once the killer was released”?

    Absolutely, and everything must be done to ensure that does not happen. It’s the worst aspect of the current system – the possibility that ‘he/she might do it again’.

    And my mind boggles at the thought that we, as humans, think we know so much about the human condition that we can say with confidence, ‘this person should be allowed out on parole’.

    Do the crime – you do the time. We need to get the ‘time’ bit right, to ensure society remains that little bit safer as a result.

  17. […] has been much talk about the lenience of our laws pertaining to murder and manslaughter”: Bermuda Jewel advocates the reintroduction of capital punishment. Cancel this […]

  18. I oppose capital punishment for the reasons stated adequately by others above. For most cases we should lock them up, throw away the key and have them do hard labour ’til the day they are lucky enough to have death spare them from their misery. The money earned should go to cover their encarceration expenses, restitution to the families and finally to the taxpayers if there’s anything left over. The crazy thing is, some of these human rights groups would probably give us more flak for that option than for hanging them.

  19. Both sparxx and Letariatpro have challenged us to consider how we would feel if it were our family members or loved ones who were the victims of a savage, premeditated crime. I can only hypothesize as mercifully I have never been in that situation, but I imagine they are right – I would want the culprit dead. In fact, I’d probably want to torture them first. Really make them feel pain, excruciating pain, slowly and deliberately. The more I think about it, torture is probably too light a term for what I’d want to do – I’d go Marcellus Wallace medieval on him (in all likelihood, it would be a him).

    However, this is exactly why we DON’T let victim’s families judge cases, sit on juries, or choose the punishments we mete out in society’s name. It’s not that their suffering is irrelvant, it’s just that they are so emotionally involved that they are more likely responding to their emotions than their reason (I don’t seek a world devoid of emotion, but I definitely don’t want one ruled by it). To ask what I would do “if it were my family member” is a red herring – unless you’re willing to endorse a state that practices the most sado-masichistic revenge system since the Inquisition.

  20. this debate, along with the abortion one, should be taken extreme care. I’m not sure how anyone who has not faced the subject can truly offer an opinion that matters.

    If you can not speak to the experience, how can you possibly offer an opinion? Are your opinions fair to those who actually have to go through the pain of such a nightmare?

    Life just isn’t so la-de-da.

  21. Sparxx…

    How would society run if that was the case? How would Parliament pass laws that relate to murder?

    If you have only those who ‘have been there’ passing the laws, wouldn’t we end up with bias? Would those laws reflect the opinion of society?

  22. Okay, I know this is a bot, but in case anyone else is reading this, BermudaJEWEL unequivocally does NOT advocate the return of capital punishment. I, Tia/alsys alone, feel that in light of recent events and much in the same way Lets/sparxx spoke about, I am pretty sure I know what I would want in that case. But this is more to foster a discussion than an advocation.

    I agree with Martin, and I’ll spoken about this time and time before, that the judicial system is woefully inadequate… which is what causes this frustration and want for a better solution.

  23. Martin…..

    How can you allow someone to live knowing that they systematically planned and performed the act of murder? A family has now lost a loved one, a child has lost a parent, a parent has lost a child. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

    Remember, due process has concluded that this person has been convicted by a jury of his peers. He has been given his day in court. He may even be allowed an appeal. The fact remains, this person has completely destroyed a life, for which there is NO recovery.

    At which point would you allow this person to have the right to simply live his life in prison, with three square meals and a roof over his head with no responsibilities, no worries for the rest of his natural life.

    There is no bias when you are convicted of murder 1. It is plain and simple. You decided that it was important enough to take a life. You have been convicted as such. Society should choose that same fate for you.

  24. All I can say, is that that is how I see it.

    I am not looking at this through your eyes, I am using mine,

    That does not make me right. If I lived in a society where the consensus view was that the death penalty should prevail, then I would have to go with it I guess. The option of joining other like minded people to bring about a change in the law always would exist I suppose, but doing so would depend on the strength of feeling within the community to the death penalty.

    I cannot live with the idea of ‘mistakes’ being made. It has happened. On less severe crime, time and time again, we now see prisoners released because the evidence was revisited and found to be such that the conviction was unstable.

  25. The problem is we spend more on the incarceration of our criminals than we do on the education of our children.

    Until we get that sorted out, and find away to make breaking the law not worth the risk, we will be faced with this dilemma.

  26. sparxx – empathy should still come into play regardless if we’ve “been there” or are capable of “being there”.

  27. I previously wrote about this subject at http://www.limeyinbermuda.com/latest_news/2005/09/killing_the_kil.html. I hold the same opinions today.

  28. I think a better question to ask is how you would feel if both the murdered AND the murderer were family members.

  29. Keep in mind that the authority of the state, and any government, is that they are the only legitmate actors who can employ violence to settle matters. Don’t think of violence in the strict physical sense, but consider violence as a deprivation of someone’s rights. Only a government can do it and get away with it (assuming, of course, that it is done in a lawful manner). Capital punishment is merely the most severe of the violent options at a government’s disposal.

    So it is not really about violence, but the degree to which it is employed.

  30. As an aside Phil, I never understood Dame Lois on this.

    Happy to be corrected, but did she not petition hard on behalf of Burrows an Tacklyn? I mention it as it suggests that a politic decision to implement it could be ‘per se’ unsafe.

  31. Ahe was there until the last minute of the appeal to halt the hangings. Then Hamilton et al went up in flames and more lost there lives in hotel burnings.

    When we have a mass killing or similar and many are injured and killed then the above expressed opinions will change.

    The laws are on the books. No need for change just meat it out.

  32. if a person is convicted of murder 1, his/her life is forfeit. It matters not what their personal circumstances are, and who they killed. Putting him in prison for life does nothing but waste taxpayers money. He is not afforded rehabilitation and he will never return to productive society again.

    Give him/her due process. If at the end of that he/she is still found guilty…

    Done deal.

  33. I don’t understand the fight. Being afraid of a judge/jury making an incorrect decision should not sway justice. We will get more right than wrong. An incorrect decision sends a killer to prison for a lesser period of time. WOW. That’s true justice.

    I’m sure Rebecca Middleton’s family feel that we did such a great job. Especially seeing what wonderful guys they turned out to be.

  34. sparxx – So if, say, when your kids grow up, your daughter was to murder your son, would you want your daughter to be executed?

    Or suppose you were the one a jury erroneously sentenced to death? Would you accept your death as an acceptable price to pay, given that most of the rest of the time only the guilty would be executed?

  35. Phil, I think your going to extremes here. Your a man of common sense, most of us know it.

    As for the daughter son plot. Of course we or they or she or he would nnot want it.

    As for erroneously sentenced? Shit happens. There is not fool proof method as time has shown us. Can we improve on a system? No way in hell because someone will come along the next day with another view and/or point and judicial review will be required again. Thats how the system works in the real world.

    Now in some nations…oh yeah..what am I talking about.

    Lets move on. Deal with what we have. It’s right there in front of us as has been for thousands of years. Common unadulterated facts and emotion.

    Have a great day all. Gonna go and sit in front of my cave in the mountains and watch the sunset with a can of potted meat.

  36. At what point would I have a choice? If I drive over the speed limit and get arrested, I lose my license. If I drink and drive and kill someone, I should be charged and if convicted accept my penalty or use the system (appeals), to get a different sentence. If not… too bad for me.

    Of course I wouldn’t like it. Of course I’d be devastated if my kids (either of them) did something like this. I am human… but that said, as a non-violent person who tries to impart such knowledge on my kids, I hope that they grow up to be decent human beings.

    The point here is that there MUST be appropriate punishment to fit the crime. Whatever the crime. If justice is miscarried then I fight for it with everything I have, but I must accept my punishment. It is in my own moment of madness or stupidity that I arrive at such a place.

    What good is it if I sit in prison for the rest of my life? What consolation do I offer the offended family, the children, the parents? I wake with each sunrise and enjoy a new day with no responsibilities and no worries. I don’t have to worry about bills, voting or anything…. and I get my 3 squares. In time I am forgotten about, but still I live my life for what maybe 30-40 years? Maybe I get parole… maybe I get a work release and while I’m “working” I get conjugal visits from a long time girlfriend. Justice… what a wonderful thing.

    The reality is that we are talking about the most horrible of crimes. PRE-MEDITATED murder, for which the only answer is punishment in kind.

  37. “What good is it if I sit in prison for the rest of my life? What consolation do I offer the offended family, the children, the parents”?

    The consolation has to be that you are effectively removed from society and – if we can get the judges and the law to operate correctly – then you are removed for ever. In one sense, therefore, it is the same as the death sentence – you no longer exist as far as society is concerned.

    At the moment, justice is not a wonderful thing at all. I agree with you totally. We both believe in removing someone permanently from society. All I am doing is taking away the possibility of mudering again in error.

  38. Death Penalty Basics: Pro death penalty position
    Dudley Sharp, contact info below.

    In almost all cases, the anti death penalty claims are either false or the pro death penalty position is stronger, on any given topic.

    Here are a few examples. More upon request.

    “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx

    “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/03/death-penalty-deterrence-murder-rates.html

    The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2006/03/20/the-death-penalty-not-a-human-rights-violation.aspx

    Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/02/deterrence-and-the-death-penalty-a-reply-to-radelet-and-lacock.aspx

    “At the Death House Door” Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/01/30/fact-checking-is-very-welcome.aspx

    Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/05/04/sister-helen-prejean–the-death-penalty-a-critical-review.aspx

    Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/

    Pope John Paul II: Prudential Judgement and the death penalty
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2007/07/23/pope-john-paul-ii-his-death-penalty-errors.aspx

    Dudley Sharp
    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.

    Pro death penalty sites

    essays http://homicidesurvivors.com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

    http://www.dpinfo.com
    http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
    http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
    http://prodpinNC.blogspot.com/
    http://www.coastda.com/archives.html
    http://www.lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
    http://www.prodeathpenalty.com
    http://yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2 (Sweden)http://www.wesleylowe.com/cp.html

  39. “All I am doing is taking away the possibility of mudering again in error.”

    Sorry… but if you are convicted of first degree murder… there is no “murdering again in error”.

    It’s a conviction, not a “maybe you’re not guilty”.

  40. All I can say on this subject is how can we justify giving out a punishment which is equal to the horrible crime we are punishing the individual for. Is there anything more premeditated than a death sentence?

    For me, as others have stated, life should mean life, no chance of early release. To have your liberty taken away permanently is effectively taking away their life. If people new that a crime truly carried a “life” sentence I believe there is a much greater deterrent there.

    There will never be a censuses on a topic as emotive as this, but I doubt we will see any democratic nations reintroducing the death sentence.

  41. Sorry Faith, that’s just wrong. What liberty did the convicted fellon take away from his victim? The freedom of living, breathing, laughing, crying… watching your children grow up? The chance to love and be loved?

    What deterrent is three square meals and no responsibilities? Do you know that there are some guys who can’t wait to go back to Casemates?

    I just hope that your family never has to face the pain of losing someone to a cold blooded killer.

  42. Hi Sparxx

    Not sure that this matters, as we are at opposite ends of the spectrum on this discussion anyway, but just wanted to clarify that the “murdering again error” meant that the “State” didn’t execute an innocent person.

  43. Of course the death penalty deters:

    “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx

    “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/03/death-penalty-deterrence-murder-rates.html

    Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/02/deterrence-and-the-death-penalty-a-reply-to-radelet-and-lacock.aspx

  44. Just a note…

    Unless I’m mistaken and it’s changed, last I knew, there was no evidence pointing to the death penalty being an effective deterrent.

    Is that still the case?

  45. I dunno. What similarly sized countries currently use the death penalty and what is the serious crime rate?

  46. UE – this is probably because we haven’t executed enough people to make it a deterrent. We start utilizing a little “population control” I guarantee people will be deterred.

    It always amazes me to the extent the general public when reading a case in the daily will curse a person under their breath, talk about how “if it was my child that so and so would be strung up” but then when it happens to someone they don’t know… oh life in prison is a good sentence.

    Garbage. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

  47. UE…

    You might find this interesting:

    Criminologists’ Views on Deterrence and the Death Penalty

    A recent survey of the most leading criminologists in the country from found that the overwhelming majority did not believe that the death penalty is a proven deterrent to homicide. Eighty-eight percent of the country’s top criminologists do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to homicide, according to a new study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology and authored by Professor Michael Radelet, Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Traci Lacock, also at Boulder.

    Similarly, 87% of the expert criminologists believe that abolition of the death penalty would not have any significant effect on murder rates. In addition, 75% of the respondents agree that “debates about the death penalty distract Congress and state legislatures from focusing on real solutions to crime problems.”

    The survey relied on questionnaires completed by the most pre-eminent criminologists in the country, including Fellows in the American Society of Criminology; winners of the American Society of Criminology’s prestigious Southerland Award; and recent presidents of the American Society of Criminology. Respondents were not asked for their personal opinion about the death penalty, but instead to answer on the basis of their understandings of the empirical research.

    (M. Radelet and T. Lacock, DO EXECUTIONS LOWER HOMICIDE RATES?: THE VIEWS OF LEADING CRIMINOLOGISTS, 99 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 489 2009)

    To read the study, click here.

  48. Here’s the link.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/facts-about-deterrence-and-death-penalty

  49. Survey…smirvey……I don’t care about surveys as you just pointed too above in your post Martin. As for criminoligists, they are part of the “survey”.

    It’s not about who makes the best burger. Who’s car has the best miliage, and what pain reliever is the best and cheaper.

    Get a grip people. When you come home after a beer with the boys and you smell something burning on the stove and say ‘well the wifes messed up the chicken again’…….and find her lying on the floor stabbed too death and your infant crying in the crib and a shadow appears and runs out the back door with a knife………
    Just another day…………………………..

    I need a rum………………………

  50. Sorry Rummy, not sure I am getting this. And as much as I don’t want to trivialise this important debate, are you suggesting she should have gone to KFC?

  51. Never mind Martin, never mind.

    Ciao Bermuda Jewel………

    The gang of twenty…..I’m outa here……………….

  52. I like to think that there’s a difference between vengeance and justice.
    What you are talking about is vengeance and it does have its place. Just not in the justice system.

    Your reference to “population control” is a little scary to me, as well, as it sounds a little “eugenics-y”.
    Again, this is only as far as I know and I stand to be contradicted, but all evidence points to the death penalty not being a discernable deterrent, as counterintuitive as that may seem.
    Criminals are criminals and the motivations behind murder don’t take that sort of thing into account.

    Phil brings up a good point. What if it were a member of your family that was accused of murder. Your son or daughter. Would you want them dead with the same vehemence?

    I’m against the death penalty, personally, because I think that killing is wrong, either as a person or as a society. That’s just my view.

  53. Thanks for the link, Martin. That’s what I’m talking about.
    Contrary to the grandly-gesturing’s opinion, it seems that there ISN’T evidence to it being a deterrent.

    Someone who would kill his wife because she “messed up the chicken again” certainly isn’t thinking “Oh, crap, I better not do it because I might be put to death.”

  54. Ok…I’ll bite Uncle Elvis. As per usual, you did not read what I wrote.

    Read it again. It has nothing to do with KFC. Change the plot and you come home after a hard days work in Hamilton. You smell your favorite meal cooking. You enter the house and yell…”I’m home’……

    After walking the property you find your loved one and the rest is…..too quick off the mark sometimes some are and to hasty to condem.

    And we wonder why we are where we are.

    And don’t forget the drunken driver that killed your son. Damn, just another day. Not premeditated and nothing to do with Capital Punishment but the line is still there. You draw it or other will or will not.

    As for a deterant? I wonder what your thoughts are about speeding, illegal parking, racism, bad service, high energy bills, dogs peeing on your tires………

    Go back to the subject. My view is mute right?

  55. I am not sure how much more evidence one needs to support the view that we cannot afford to make mistakes, and that the deathe penalty can deliver just that – mistakes.

    —————————————————–

    Five Exonerations So Far in 2009 Demonstrate Risks of Death Penalty
    Posted: July 16, 2009

    The risk that innocent people could be executed remains high, as illustrated by the two most recent exonerations from death row. Ronald Kitchen was freed from prison Illinois after the state dismissed all charges against him on July 7. He had spent 13 years on death row and a total of 21 years in prison. Governor George Ryan had commuted his sentence to life in 2003, along with all other death row inmates. Kitchen’s original conviction was derived largely from a coerced confession, having been subjected to a torturous interrogation under the supervision of the notorious police Commander Jon Burge.

    Herman Lindsey was freed from Florida’s death row on July 9 after the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled for his acquittal. The court noted: “[T]he State failed to produce any evidence in this case placing Lindsey at the scene of the crime at the time of the murder. . . .Indeed, we find that the evidence here is equally consistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence.” Lindsey was convicted in 2006, clearly indicating that wrongful convictions continue to occur in capital cases.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/

  56. And – for the sake of completeness perhaps, here is the bit about lawyers – evidence not introNew Evidence Throws Doubt on Ohio Death Row Inmate’s Conviction
    Posted: July 06, 2009

    Attorneys for Ohio death row inmate Kevin Keith have presented new evidence casting doubt on his original conviction in briefs filed with the Ohio State Supreme Court. The Ohio Innocence Project has also asked for a new trial for Keith, supporting the claim that suppressed evidence points to another suspect who said he was paid to $15,000 to “cripple” the drug informant who was the victim of the shootings for which Keith was condemned to death. Additionally, Keith’s public defenders claim the prosecution knowingly used false evidence about an eyewitness identification that was used to link Keith to the murders. duced that could help acquit etc.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/

  57. Your missing my point Martin. 23 witnesses saw the man walk out of the bank holding two children and carrying a ak47. He shot them both and then was shot buy a police officer. He survived his injuries and was arrested.

    A troll is a troll is a troll………………………………

  58. Rummy, in your haste to… do whatever it is you do… you obviously didn’t read.
    I said nothing about KFC and I can’t make any sense of the next bit.

    And… um… “the drunken driver that killed [my] son”? That makes no sense.
    I don’t have a son, never have…
    and if it has “nothing to do with Capital Punishment”, then why make it up… er… bring it up?

    and finally, the last bit, about “speeding, illegal parking…” etc.
    I don’t know what that means. Nothing, I suspect.

  59. “population control” was a light-hearted poke. My apologies if it upset you UE.

    I believe I answered Phil’s point whether or not it happened to be my kids involved. As I said… “WHAT CHOICE DO I HAVE?” the law is the law.

    As for all of the “experts” I wonder how many of them have had to face such a horror as losing a loved one to an act of pre-meditated murder.

    I’m really not interested in evidence as to what’s the best form of deterrent. I’m interested in finding a solution to the senseless killings that are plaguing us. We need to find a more permanent solution than sending these killers to prison.

    My tax dollars are that important to me.

  60. Sparxx, I totally feel you on this. Believe me, I do.

    However, if I can touch on your points…

    ““population control” was a light-hearted poke. My apologies if it upset you UE.”

    It didn’t upset me, just concerned me. You “guarantee” that people will be deterred, but, as I’m trying to point out, all evidence points to the opposite.

    “I believe I answered Phil’s point whether or not it happened to be my kids involved. As I said… “WHAT CHOICE DO I HAVE?” the law is the law.”

    But it’s NOT the law. The law, as it stands now, is to NOT kill these people.
    You’re arguing for a CHANGE in the law, so this argument doesn’t really stand, does it? If your kids were up on a murder charge, would you still push as hard to change the law so they could be murdered by society?

    “As for all of the “experts” I wonder how many of them have had to face such a horror as losing a loved one to an act of pre-meditated murder.”

    Again. Vengeance and Justice. The “experts” are not speaking from an emotional place. Their opinions are formed from cold, hard facts. The evidence, these facts, show that it is not a deterrent.

    “I’m really not interested in evidence as to what’s the best form of deterrent. I’m interested in finding a solution to the senseless killings that are plaguing us. We need to find a more permanent solution than sending these killers to prison.”

    Heavens, so am I! But, and again, I stand to be corrected on this, the death penalty is NOT the best deterrent, or any deterrent at all, really.
    I would desperately love to find a solution to this. I truly would. But murdering murderers just isn’t it.

    “My tax dollars are that important to me.”

    Mine are no less important to me. Trust me on that!

  61. Sorry Rummy, I really am not trying to be either difficult nor am I setting out to deliberately miss your point, but when you introduce something for the first time, i.e. “23 witnesses saw the man….etc”, I really don’t know how to respond.

    I cannot second guess you.

  62. The 130 (now 135) death row “innocents” scam
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx

  63. Then you never will Martin. Breaking News…Martin does aforesaid..”who me”?

    Please let the CIA and NIA just let the little buggers loose so we can all rest in peace………..

    Gotta run….Mysty on the line…..Vat? Vat? Yah ayh I saw a crooze sheep cummin shrew dee too ruck passage……..then it blew hup. Must have been a bad chef……no one too blame………….

  64. Thank you, Mr. Sharp. I only skimmed, but I will read more in-depth later.

  65. Uncle Elvis:

    You’re welcome.

    I also posted several links, above, in two posts, which respond to many of the comments, herein.

  66. Sorry I haven’t responded. Still getting used to the layout of the posts. I’ll look into them.

  67. Again, I’ve only skimmed, as it’s getting close to knocking-off time, but is there any evidence that the death penalty is, in fact, a deterrent?

  68. Hello Mr Sharp,

    Lots to read there as you know. One question if I may…what’s your thought on my earlier post:

    Penalty
    Posted: July 16, 2009

    The risk that innocent people could be executed remains high, as illustrated by the two most recent exonerations from death row. Ronald Kitchen was freed from prison Illinois after the state dismissed all charges against him on July 7. He had spent 13 years on death row and a total of 21 years in prison. Governor George Ryan had commuted his sentence to life in 2003, along with all other death row inmates. Kitchen’s original conviction was derived largely from a coerced confession, having been subjected to a torturous interrogation under the supervision of the notorious police Commander Jon Burge.

    Herman Lindsey was freed from Florida’s death row on July 9 after the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled for his acquittal. The court noted: “[T]he State failed to produce any evidence in this case placing Lindsey at the scene of the crime at the time of the murder. . . .Indeed, we find that the evidence here is equally consistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence.” Lindsey was convicted in 2006, clearly indicating that wrongful convictions continue to occur in capital cases.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/

  69. Martin and Uncle Elvis:

    I don’t want to repeat myself, as all of the links above answer your questions.

    For some reason it took some time for my 2 earliest posts to show up on line and thereofre the conversation had past.

  70. That’s ok Mr Sharp…I found your views on my question as per:

    DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION
    In the United States 10/1/97
    By Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All

  71. Martin:

    That’s 12 years old. The material above is very recent.

  72. ‘A conviction in a court of law, is not proof of guilt.’ is a principal of English law. Perhaps the lawyers amongst you can find the case, sometime in the 1950’s. Those who insist on murder by the State are merely seeking vengeance.

  73. When your parents and childrens head are found on the floor and they execute the guilty person, that is “vengence”.
    How sad you think like that. You live in a bubble that may not burst in your life or whilst you breath.

  74. So let me get this straight… If I get so upset at someone(s) that I find the largest knife I can, leave my home in a rage befitting Beowulf, find the person that has inspired my rage stab him several hundred times, and if he is with my ex-girlfriend, do the same thing to her, my victims both die, I get arrested, the prosecution has an open and shut case for pre-meditated murder, 15 witnesses step forward to prove their case….

    … I should be given life in prison. 3 square meals a day, free health care, and a chance at conjugal visits with my new girl when I go out on work release. I have no responsibilities, no bills, no worries!!!!

    Makes perfect sense to me. I’m happy with that. Please someone….. get me vexed!

  75. Lol..Smokes……………….

  76. sparxx

    Ok, I’ll buy it. So what is the real issue for you?

    Is it that you find it difficult to accept that others have a different point of view to yours

    Is it that we are all wrong perhaps?

    Is it that you think none of us have been close to this, yet still come out against?

    Your view is valid. It just isn’t mine.

  77. The desire to kill the person guilty of killing your family IS vengeance, which is described as “…a harmful action against a person or group as a response to a (real or perceived) wrongdoing.”

    or is there a different definition I don’t know about?

  78. There is a man in Derbyshire who spends his life in a wheel chair. He was arrested by the police on suspicion of molesting a small boy at a funfair on ‘good information of a witness’ and later charged with the offence which he strongly denied. Local men called on him whilst he was on bail awaiting his court appearance and beat him within an inch of his life and in front of his family. Days before he appeared in court, a man walked into the police station and informed them that they had arrested the wrong man and that he wished to confess to the crime. This man was convicted and the original man, totally innocent, spends his life in agony.

    Do you trust all witnesses, juries, police, lawyers to present an ‘open and shut case.’ Having seen the way that trials are so often botched in Bermuda – often as a result of your small jury pool – I wouldn’t like to trust one of my family in their hands.

  79. Nope… opinions can differ, and I gather I’ve been a bit too aggressive in my defense of capital punishment for murder 1.

    You are wrong (in my honest opinion) in trying to find reasons for this NOT to be a law. I just know that justice has NOT been done in a few cases (cue issues with the AG) and Rebecca Middleton’s murderer still lives. WHY????

    I said in the beginning… I believe myself to be a liberal when it comes to many things… but this is something that I refuse to budge on.

    I will offer this one last thought. I have a family and have recently just had my first grand-child. I could not bear the thought of any of them being harmed. Should that day ever happen, I will not be responsible for my actions.

  80. Stella – I admit that there is no room for incompetence. Rebecca Middleton’s murderer should no longer enjoy life… but he does. We live with the embarrassment of that incompetence every day.

    As humans, we are fallible. Even the brightest and the vest mess it up, but that is no reason to not punish someone who truly deserves it.

    Isn’t it equally a travesty of justice that those who should be punished properly are not?

  81. sparxx

    Just for the record, I don’t think you were aggressive. You clearly feel passioante about this, and that’s fine.

    In fact, judging from some of the scrapes I get into blogging from time to time, I reckon you ‘sail the seas’ better than I do.

  82. Sparxx, I am totally getting where you’re coming from and agree that, were it someone in my family, I would want them dead.

    I’m just saying that, for me, personally, killing is wrong, no matter who does it.

    (And as far as the Rebecca Middleton case goes… if the rumours are true, and let’s take as a hypothetical exercise that they are, and Mr. Mundy, who apparently gave information to get a lesser sentence (and again, I’m just going off rumours, I’m not saying that these are true), DID, in fact, do it and if the lawyers and cops had cocked it up the OTHER way and found Mr. Smith guilty… if we had the death penalty, then a man innocent of that crime would be dead, wouldn’t he? Is that fair? Is that justice?)

  83. Your second paragraph speaks volumes Elvis. I could write 300,000,000 pages on that. History..

    Say the same words to your great Grandfather, your Grandfather and Father for protecting Europe et al.

    My comments are not to divide but to provide. How many people not involved in aggression were killed today?

    How many people of service from Armed Forces were killed today, and yesterday.

    Who performed the act of taking those lives.

    Killing is wrong?

    If it is, then why does it go on.

    A great day too all and enjoy your personal time with family and life.

  84. Stella

    Reference your point about conviction and guilt. I doubt this is the answer, but a lawyer friend of mine in the UK, certainly recalls a case around 1970/71, where a criminal sued in defamation after a newspaper stated that the criminal was guilty of the offence, and at the time the mere conviction was not of itself proof of guilt, and in essence the newspaper would have had to call all the prosecution evidence to again prove the case.

    I haven’t checked recently, but I think that newspapers tend not to state that someone is guilty, but rather that they were convicted, which is of course factually correct.

  85. Rummy, I think killing is wrong. You don’t that doesn’t make my point of view invalid.

  86. First thing you need is a truth in sentencing law passed in Parliment. A life sentance like in the states can be two things.

    Second degree murder is 25 years to life which means perp has to serv minimum of 25 years before parole even comes up.

    1st degree murder is life without the possibility of parole.

    Manslaughter can be many different varities voluntary and involuntary, gross negligence etc.

    You must stop the consideration of perp saying I am sorry as it carries no weight in sentencing. What are they sorry for? Getting Caught?

    There is nothing wrong with putting them to work, why can’t they do what local jails do here. Put them out on clean up detail, I am sure Keep Bermuda Clean could use all of the help they can get.

    Once you make it unpleasurable to go to prison then MAYBE something will start to change.

  87. Chasmanic…

    Succinctly put!

  88. I really do NOT want to see comment moderation taking place on this blog.

    Thankyou.

  89. Of course the death penalty deters.

    “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/03/death-penalty-deterrence-murder-rates.html

    Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/02/deterrence-and-the-death-penalty-a-reply-to-radelet-and-lacock.aspx

    “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx

  90. Some interesting points have been raised through this conversation and I feel I must comment.

    Sparxx in one of his earlier comments asked a person to put theirselves in the position of the victim. Would I still prefer imprisonment over the death penalty if someone hurt a member of my family? Truth be told I would think I should be the last person asked in that situation. I am fiercely protective of my family and some friends as well. I would not consider it wise to ask me after the fact because I know my answer would be more emotional than not. How would I feel? I probably would want them to die, slowly, painfully. However, I live by certain principles, I do not think my mind nor my heart can justify what to me appears as vengeance. It would take me a while to get there I am sure becuase the pain of that loss would be within my soul for the rest of my life but at the end of the day can I do to someone else what was done to me? A murderer is still a human being with a family, with their own loved one, with a soul. Having them killed would not bring my loved one back and vengeance will not bring me peace of mind.

    In all the sociology and criminology classes I took it was interesting that when this topic came up it was found that harsh punishments were not always a deterrent. Go figure. Maybe, just maybe its because when a person decides to kill another person even in the face of common sense and detterents the person is overcome by whatever emotion they are feeling and do what they want, what they feel.

    I believe a life sentence should be just that. A life sentence. No parole, no probation, no nothing. I believe that having to spend the rest of one’s natural life in an institution is a just punishment. They will wake up in the same cell everday, eat the same crap food (it may be 3 squares but it will always be crappy tasting) never travel, never have new and wonderous experiences. To watch the world around you change and develop and never be able to participate in or benefit from these changes; to live in an institution and become institutionalised in your thinking; to know that you will live but have no life; that this will be your existence until God decides to claim you; that to me, is a just punishment.

    At the end of the day laws should not be enacted based on emotions. It is not wise nor is it good governance. As stated before our justice system is in need of an overhaul. I believe that if the police do their job in capturing a criminal then the judges need to do their part and sentence them correctly. I am of the opinion that present sentences are insuffiecient and do not act as a deterrent. I believe that prisoners should be made to participate in programs while incarcerated as part of their sentence no matter what their sentence is. Sitting on your butt doing nothing should not be an option.

  91. The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge

    Death penalty opponents say that the death penalty has a foundation in hatred and revenge. Such is a false claim.

    A death sentence requires pre existing statutes, trial and appeals, considerations of guilt and due process, extreme protections for defendants and those convicted. Revenge requires none of these and, in fact, does not even require guilt or a crime.

    Unlike revenge, those directly affected by the murder are not allowed to be fact finders in a legal case.

    The pre trial, trial. appellate and executive clemency/commutation processes offer much greater time and human resources to capital cases than they do to any other cases, meaning that the facts tell us that defendants and convicted murderers, subject to the death penalty, receive much greater care and concern than those not facing the death penalty – the opposite of a system marked with vengeance.

    Calling executions a product of hatred and revenge is simply a way in which “some” death penalty opponents attempt to establish a sense of moral superiority. It can also be a transparent insult which results in additional hurt to those victim survivors who have already suffered so much and who believe that execution is the appropriate punishment for those who murdered their loved one(s).

    Far from moral superiority, those who call capital punishment an expression of hatred and revenge are often exhibiting their contempt for those who believe differently than they do. Instead, they might reflect on why others believe it is a just and deserved sanction for the crimes committed.

    The pro death penalty position is based upon those who find that punishment just and appropriate under specific circumstances. Retributive justice as opposed to revenge.

    Those opposed to execution cannot prove a foundation of hatred and revenge for the death penalty any more than they can for any other punishment sought within a system such as that observed within the US – unless such opponents find all punishments a product of hatred and revenge – an unreasonable, unfounded position

    Far from hatred and revenge, the death penalty represents our greatest condemnation for a crime of unequaled horror and consequence. Lesser punishments may suffice under some circumstances. A death sentence for certain heinous crimes is given in those special circumstances when a jury finds such is more just than a lesser sentence.

    Less justice is not what we need.

    A thorough review of the criminal justice system will often beg this question: Why have we chosen to be so generous to murderers and so contemptuous of the human rights and suffering of the victims and future victims?

    The punishment of death is, in no way, a balancing between harm and punishment, because the innocent murder victim did not deserve or earn their fate, whereas the murderer has earned their own, deserved punishment by the free will action of violating societies laws and an individual’s life and, thereby, voluntarily subjecting themselves to that jurisdiction’s judgment.

  92. I read a similar summation sometime ago. Thank you Dudley.

    Peace on earth, goodwill too men. The season of reason knows no time nor calender.

    Rummy.

  93. In the final analysis and when all thew arguments are over, I cannot live with it simply because of the possibility of error.

    That price is enormous. Period.

    I understand why Dudley and others feel the way they do. But putting up a continual and continuous series of facts and statements to support their position is of little value to me.

    At the end of the day, you have to make a choice; that’s what life is about – choices. I have made mine.

  94. I can see where your thoughts are Martin. Not knowing your family situation but when you get home and they are all laying beheaded on the livingroom floor and the culprit is found and siezed by you and a neighbour…..

    At sentencing all your gonna say is give em life?

    Humanity, thats why we are all differant but most abide by the rules of millenium………

    A great day too all.And, may Alah bless you tonight.

  95. Thought provoking article Mr Sharp.

    As I read the argument for the death penalty I thought on the arguments in regards to what I had previously wrote and a question formed.

    For me, to serve life in prison without the potential for parole is punishment enough for murder, for others not enough. But as the question Sparxx posed put me in the position of victim if I say a person should die because it is my family member then would that not be an act of vengenace?

  96. Rummy…

    Tell me, is it the beheading that would make me change my mind?

    Perhaps if there is no blood and no body parts strewn across the lounge, then my position on this would be ok?

  97. Your last paragraph speaks volumes. How can you have or maintain a position when nothing has happened. All your comments aand thoughts are null and void.

  98. Please note that no one’s comments and thoughts are null and void. This discussion is much better served if we refrain from personal attacks and keep to discussing and/or refuting other’s ideas, not them.

  99. Ms. Morris:

    Were it only you, acting out in retaliation, with no law behind you, just personal animus, then regardless of the punishment you impose, it would, likely, be an act of vengeance.

    Obviously, I differentiate between personal actions and the law enforcement apparatus of government.

    That was very clear in my post.

  100. Alsys, something has to happen or we would be having this discussion. That is what I meant by “null and void”.

    And once again, how can it be personal. Martin is unknown too me. I made comments about his comments as if it were a male speaking. If it were a female, my template would remain the same.

  101. I agree the reason we are having this discussion stemmed from an “event” but we should be having these discussions anyway. By personal, I meant that your exchange appears less based on the content of the argument and more “B thinks A is wrong…” without putting up a counter argument.

    I know this is a volatile subject, which is why I posted it, but the onus is on us to attempt to academically discuss it. This is not directed at you alone, Rummy.

  102. If it were a female, my template would remain the same.

    “It”….???

    Well – I give up. (Again)

  103. Oh Martin…What some people will do.

    “Well-I give up. (Again)….therein lies the answer. Some disgaree with your comments…big deal. Your talent with verbage like others of your generation is for today.

    Define “it”. Like others, you suck the breath and bleed other comments as if they were from hells fire.

    Your good at what you do. What the hell do you do?

    Are you a banker, a CEO, a Taxi Cab driver, a fellow merchant,? You sure as heavens don’t own Martins Water Service………..

    Another day, another dollar on Front Street. Gotta love it.

    Your gonna give up? Damn, my works are better than the ratings of the Premier.

    Buy some candles and srock up on canned food. Bermuda has never been through tough times in the past 50 years.

    I need a rum.

  104. Mr Sharp,

    I may not have been clear in my question. Without question or doubt if I took it upon myself to cause the death of a person as punishment for a crime against me or my family, it most definitely is vengeance.

    My initial question however was including the apparatus of the law and justice system, my apologies if that was not clear. So again, being that I am against the death penalty and I then say a person should die for murdering my family member then would that not be an act of vengenace, even though it is being done through the processes of the law and justice system?

  105. Ms. Morris:

    I think my post made it clear why it wasn’t vengeance.

    I cannot be more clear.

  106. Mr. Sharp,

    Isn’t using the phrase “hatred and vengeance”, i.e. using them together, over and over, like a mantra, a little manipulative?

    I haven’t seen anyone but you say that agreeing with capital punishment is spawned by hatred.

    But vengeance, yes.

    What, exactly, is the difference between vengeance and retributive justice?

    I’m going to go through your post point by point later, but that’s a start.

  107. UE:

    Hate and hatred come up fairly often in anti death penalty discussions, with regard to reasons they think people support the death penalty. I combined hatred and revenge only because it provides better coverage for me.

    Again , my essay was clear, so I won’t repeat myself, please.

  108. However, they haven’t come up in THIS discussion, so isn’t the point a little moot?

    No one has shown any of the behaviours or motivations you talk about. No one’s claiming moral superiority, are they?

    In fact, the only time vengeance has been used as a concept was when people made the argument “How would you feel if it were your family?”, which, I hope you’ll agree, is talking about vengeance.

    I guess I’m just not sure how your essay relates to the discussion at hand.

  109. UE, your third paragraph sums it up to your beliefs. People feelings have nothing to do with “vengeance”.

    Vengeance is an act. Emotion is a feeling.

    Contemplation? The Lord said Vengeance is mine. Then again, his message is differant.

  110. Yes. The Lord said “Vengeance is MINE”.

    In other words, it’s His. Not ours.

    From Oxford:
    venge⋅ance
    3. the desire for revenge: a man full of vengeance.

    Sounds like a feeling to me…

  111. “3.” Good choice on your part. All the others are meaningless. Nice try.

    I suggest you pull up the RG and Mid Ocean archives and re-read Erskine Burrows letter that he read to the Supreme Court. His admittance too killings and other matters. Capital punishment for capital crimes and premeditaed? Yah betch yah.

    Ones opinions and views change slightly when confronted with this stuff each day. Been there done that but any police officer with a grain of salt will tell you that they just do their job. What happens in the courts or thereafter is not a concern.

    Just like the guy that makes the gun, the knife, the bullet, the tnt, et al.

    Now, I’m off too the lake to catch my supper. Or mabe I should just buy it and not feel guilty.

  112. Mr Sharp, I will try again for via my interpretation of your response and the fact that my question has not been answered I think you are misunderstanding my question. It’s more philosophical in nature if that makes it any clearer.

    If a person is against the death penalty, the law and the execution of that law and then that same person becomes for the death penalty, after a murder affects them personally, would their desire to support the death penalty, the law and execution of said law after becoming a victim be deemed as vengeance?

    I apologise for being a bit tenacious but this question came from reading your piece and not answered by your piece. It would help in dialogue if you could answer the question.

  113. Unfortunately those seeking vengeance or justice are off logic wanting the murderer executed…

    If I really wanted vengeance I would want the equivalent person on the murders side killed. He kills my wife, I want his wife or mother executed. That would be actual justice as he did not kill me in the first place but my loved one.

    that would in fact be an eye for an eye so to speak, how many pro-capital punishment folks would support that? not many I would bet. At the end if the day, seeing the killer executed would do nothing to assist you grieving for your loved one, you may say it would out of emotion but I believe nothing could assist me in my grief, thus I am not for capital punishment.

  114. Some good points Ms Morris. Correct me if I am wrong but the death penalty was not set aside or abloished by the people.

    I can assure you that a majority of Bermudians would like to see it re-established. Wi th a few cases yet to be presented to our Supreme Court and the horrifics of the circumstances, a search of our own feelings and conciences may take a back seat.

    Having seen the horrors of war and street violence but not in a scale as others, I’ll write more on the bombings of the House of Assembly and the 150 people killed along with the children that came to visit the Supreme Court. One of the bombers was arrested after his suicide backpack failed to detonate.

    His lawyer will be asking for a lesser sentence since he harmed no one.

    I think I’ll have a double.

    As for the ‘troll’ catcher, Happy Valley is north and south. Just a quiz for the wiz…..

    A great day too all.

  115. Yes, Rummy, capital punishment is still on the books. The following is from the Bermuda Constitution.

    Section 2: Protection of right to life
    1. No person shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been convicted.

    The hitch comes in the execution of the law. No pun intended. The British government will not allow us to condemn to death anyone. They would intervene. We would have to seperate ties from Britain in order for the death penalty can be applied but even in crafting a new constitution for an independent Bermuda I would prefer that the people vote via a referendum before we made it part of the constitution and thats after the sociologists, criminologists, lawyers, judges and police have made arguments for and against.

  116. I knew that Ms Morris. I wanted to hear it from someone with a consience. Thank you. Your wisdom at times, well, yah know me.

    Have a blessed day.

  117. Lolol. Ok, Rummy. It’s kind of hard to tell sometimes if you’re serious or not.

    Blessings to you as well.

  118. Ms. Morris:

    Such a person, now, supporting the death penalty may or may not have a foundation in vengeance.
    You would have to ask them why they switched positions on the death penalty.

    Just because they were once against the death penalty and, now , switched, does not tell us the basis for that switch. Even if that person switched, because of vengeance, that doesn’t mean the foundation for the death penalty is vengeance. A single persons reasons for supporting the death penalty, or any other sanction, doesn’t define the basis for a sanction in law.

    As I think was clear with my description, I was using a due process review and differnetiating it, specifically, from a personal, revenge based reaction.

    As I stated, the death penalty has greater protections than any other sanction. That, plus all of the other protections, which exclude personal vengeance, takes the death penalty out of the realm of revenge, specifically.

    There are some who may, wrongly, define all criminal sanctions as revenege. Therefore, they would find the death penalty revenge, no matter the due process regime and the reasons for it.

  119. Ms. Morris, your description of the death penalty and Britain. with regard to Bermuda are in error, sort of.

    Bermuda has the right to impose the death penalty and to execute.

    However, under Pratt and Morgan, The Privy Council decalared you must execute within 5 years, or the death penalty is out.

    Click to access article30.pdf

    My opinion is that the PC did this solely to stop the death penalty in the commonwealth of caribbean countries. It was a blatant tyrrany of the court. For some, still under the yoke of commonwealth rule, this was the last straw and helped to, finally, establish the Caribbean Court of Justice.

    http://www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org/about.htm

  120. Ms. Morris:

    for example:

    http://www.wfsb.com/news/20128998/detail.html

  121. Couple of links to see other points of view:

    First – errors:

    http://truthinjustice.org/68percent.htm

    Second – Death at any price? (Not for the squemish). We can’t even get the process right.

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/some-examples-post-furman-botched-executions

  122. Bit late to the game, my 2c:

    Those with vested interest in the fate of a criminal on trial should by definition not have any say in that fate. Therefore asking the quesiton of ‘what would you feel if it was your loved one’ is fairly pointless, because your feelings in that situation should be ignored by the judicial system. Sentences should be conducted objectively and without emotion.

    It also seems to me that as societies become more evolved, they move from retribution killing by individuals, to retribution killing by village (think tribes, mobs), to retribution killing by law (often promoted by religion), to no more retribution killing.

    I’ve never seen anything that can convince me the death penalty is a successful deterrant to homicide or rape. Taking someone else’s life or violating them so wholly is 9/10 not a decision made having weighed up the pros and cons. And if we acknowledge that the death penatly doesn’t prevent crimes, then it’s sole use is just a carthartic gesture for society. And I’d hope we’re at a stage where such things aren’t necessary.

  123. Martin:

    Fact checking is important.

    The 68% error rate is in error.

    The overturning rate,because of error, is, at most 26%, not 68%.

    Go to:

    page 13

    Click to access cp95.pdf

    Of the 5580 sentenced to death, from 1973-1995, the study data base, 1451 cases, or 26%, were overtuned because of some error in conviction or sentence. The 460 overturned because of statute has nothing to do with trial errors, the subject of the study.

    However, 26% is even too high, because many other cases were overtunred because of new law that didn’t exist at the time of the trial. Therefore, all of those were not overturnedbecause of trial error.

    To review the many other errors in this study, go to:

    http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/Liebman.htm

  124. Mr Sharp,

    Since the question was in reference to self then I can provide a clear answer for you. It would be vengeance. The only thing that has changed is me becoming a victim. So my desire to have the culprit be given the death penalty would be revenge. Of course there is the legal premise for the death penalty but it does not change the fact that the individual ie. me could use the same apparatus for vengeance.

    I don’t consider the justice system or the sentences dealt to be based in revenge or hatred but I do think that the death penalty is an extreme and unecessary punishment.

    Mr Sharp you are also incorrect on Bermuda’s law in regards to Britain. Bermuda is not a commonwealth country, it is a colony. As such Britain has direct say in whether or not we can use the death penalty. While the constitution itself has not been changed we have been informed by the Governor who speaks on behalf of the Crown that we are not to execute any person convicted of a crime.

    I see the link you posted as an example but I am unsure as to the point you were trying to make. It is an example of…? What I have gleaned from it is the prosecutors in this case want these persons dead despite these same persons willing to plead guilty. I find that very disturbing.

  125. I’m all for Capital punishment. Is it a deterrent? No. Absolutely not within the confines of crimianl behaviour.

    Once again, I revert back to my previous statements about scenarios.

    Revenge and vengeance in my book have nothing to do with it. They may be found not guilty and has we have witnessed yesterday the above has taken place.

    Judge, Jury make the call after being presented the facts. Henious crimes with forethought and malice et al deserve such punishment.

    Mabe they should have sentenced Sadam to life after a spell in Gitmo and then brought him here to plan an attack that would nerve gas us all.

    Hell, just another day in paradise without the virgins………

    I’ll break now for a comercial from a new group called ….’Onion Ashes’ and their new release….”400 year Limbo”…..

  126. Rummy:

    Of course the death penalty is a deterrent. All criminal sanctions deter some. In fact, all negative outcomes.consequences deter some. It is a truism.

  127. Of course, there are a variety of personal reasons to support the death penalty, revenge being one,then there is justice, proportionate sentences, escalating sanctions, retributive justice, biblical instruction, just desserts, expiation, fulfilling the socail contract, etc, etc.

    Thank you for the history lesson. Fascinating. So, even if Bermuda wanted to join the CCJ, you are saying they cannot.

    Why does Bermuda still want to be under British legal control? Or does it? So Britain’s leagl control over Bermuda is more powerful than Bermuda’s constitution?

    Of course, we disagree on the death penalty. I believe it is just and appropriate for some crimes and we should allow jjurors or judges to make that decision.

    In the linked case, you are only disturbed because it is a death penalty case. The principle is that defense counsel often offers a lesser sanction for a plea bargainand, sometimesthe prosecution accepts. In some cases, the prosecutor thinks that a plea would subvert justice, therefore they would rather go to trial.

    I don’t think that you find that disturbing. I would suggest that you would think that proper. You just don’t like the death penalty. Correct?

  128. @ Dudley Sharp – Truism perhaps, however a completely non-influential truism is fairly useless.

    You say all negative sanctions have an effect on decisions. The logical extrapolation of that is that there should be no crime if the punishments are harsh enough. A good example would be chewing gum in Singapore. That works because chewing gum there is a decision made by rational people who weigh up the pros and cons of popping that piece of Dentyne.

    Someone slitting the throat of their girlfriend while drunk and high and pissed off doesn’t have the same thought process. Maybe deep down somewhere they know they could get the death penalty, but by the very fact these crimes occur the implications of their actions are not an overriding factor in their decision.

    Therefore, once again, you’ll struggle to ever show that the death penalty works a deterrent. IMO.

  129. Lostin:

    Many misunderstand deterrence, as do you.

    To be a deterrent it only has to deter some. No one has ever suggested than any deterrent must be 100% effective to be an important deterrent.

    For example, with crime, there are two stronger deterrents than criminal sanction. The first is morality. It is wrong to commit crime.The second is social standing. If I commit a crime, if will affect my standing, personally,professionally, etc.
    The third is criminal sanction. I don’t want a criminal record, time in jail, execution, etc.

    All three deter. None are 100%, but all are helpful.

    Many are not deterred, but many are.

    It is easy to show the death penalty as a deterrent. All negative consequences, outcomes deter. It is a trusim.

  130. Some good points Sir. Dudley but….you quoted me without referance per Judges, Juries et al.

    The degree of “deterrent” is minimal but justified. Most educated persons would think twice but with the current system of education worldwide many fall through the cracks, and that is unfortunate but also reality.

    We can do so much as individuals but greed and personal power have a way of showing it’s ugly head everywhere as we can see by world current affairs, domestic and global.

    I need a rum……and a good Jimmy Boofey song…….all will be well until……..

    A great day too all and hug your neighbor………what a life eh?…………..

  131. I agree that a deterrant is still a deterrant, but if it is .000000001% of the 100% then keeping it around is, in effect, useless.

    I’m sure one could come up with a theory of dog-ownership having a negative effect on the likelihood of committing murder, because the owner would think about who would take care of the pup when they’re off to prison. Doesn’t mean we should mandate canine ownership as a crime prevention technique.

    You’re arguing semantics rather than reality.

  132. Dudley, I think once again our posts crossed. But that cool.

    I grew up on Dudley Hill and it’s many “sharpe” curves. They were a deterrent thats for sure.

    Gotta run….just organised a meeting with the Governor and the Premier and 15 local bussinessmen. Gonna open a hovercraft service along the railway trail. Damn, so many obsticles, dust and beer bottles.

    But eh…..they always leave a ‘trail’ right?

    Rummy.

    Ps. Catught two 4 lb catfish yesterday for my dinner. Damn…what a choice I had too make. Them or me…..but then I remembered the saying….give a man two catfish a day and he’ll meaow forever…………….

    A great day too all, and remember…only you can prevent Hamilforest fires………..:+)

  133. I never argue semantics. Lives are at stake.

    Please read all. None are based on semantics.

    “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx

    “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/03/death-penalty-deterrence-murder-rates.html

    Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/02/deterrence-and-the-death-penalty-a-reply-to-radelet-and-lacock.aspx

  134. Mr Sharp,

    I very much enjoyed reading your essays; if I may, I will respond to each one in turn.

    Regarding your first essay, “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”:

    If I may summarize, you have made six arguments supporting the use of capital punishment in this piece:

    1) Individuals on trial for their lives are less likely to be wrongly convicted then those facing life, due to the safeguards put in place to prevent mistakes when life is on the line.
    2) Murderers allowed to live are more likely to kill again than those who are executed.
    3) The number of people who are deterred from murder by the presence of capital punishment is greater than zero. Exactly how many is an issue which will never be conclusively resolved.
    4) The argument that prisoners favour death over a life sentence is false; this is evidenced by no-one ever pleaing for death.
    5) The alternative to capital punishment put forward by many, namely a more severe justice system where life means life, is an unobtainable ideal.
    6) The argument that there is a reasonable probability of an innocent being executed is scaremongering, buttressed upon false statistics and lies. There have actually been remarkably few close calls, and no actual instances of an innocent execution.

    My response to each:

    1) I am more willing to accept the possibility of a false conviction when the penalty is a life sentence, as this mistake would be to some extent compensable. You cannot undo an execution. The question here is not just “what is the probability of making as mistake?”, it is also “what would the severity of that mistake be?”

    2) True, a living murderer is more likely to kill again than a dead one. In fact, anyone living is more likely to kill than anyone dead. This argument makes for nice window dressing, but it holds no logical weight, unless you seek to minimize murder by executing everyone first.

    3) I will certainly concede that there must be some people who are deterred from murder by the risk of execution; it would be foolish not to. I will also agree that exactly how many are deterred may never be conclusively settled. I do, however, think that the number is important – you may think that one person deterred is enough, but I do not. And I believe that the number is not very significant, for reasons put forward in this thread: it seems to me that most murders are emotional crimes of passion where rational deterrence does not hold sway, and the statistics do not seem to back it up (I know you address the statistics argument in another essay and will deal with my objections to your points in a later post).

    4) Agreed, no-one that I’m aware of has ever entered a plea for the death penalty – are they legally able to? I think not. In fact, I often find the government’s hypocrisy on the value of life to be startling – it is acceptable to execute an individual against their will, but not acceptable for an individual to willingly take their own life. And how many prisoners decide that rather than pleaing for an execution, they will simply take matters into their own hands once in the cell?

    5) You’re probably right on this one. I suppose I’d rather chase an ideal than take a brutal but achievable short-cut.

    6) You’re probably right on this one too. However, on this count I’m not willing to play the “how low must the probability be to be acceptable” game. I don’t find it relevant to hear that the odds of a false execution are “only,” say, 1-in-a-million, or that I would have to wait a thousand years for there to actually be an innocent killed. If I concede that the probability of an innocent being executed is as low as it could practically be, will you concede that it is still above zero?

  135. Mr Sharp,

    Regarding your second essay, “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”.

    I read this particular article twice as its focus was the statisics of deterrence, in my opinion one of the key points in this discussion. I was made even more interested as the New York Times study which you had such issue with was so similar to the quick-and-dirty analysis I put together in my opening remarks on this subject.

    I feel that you have made a compelling argument that, based on upon the simple analyses described above, we cannot conclude that capital punishment is not a deterrent – there are too many other differences between states than simply the presence or absence of capital punishment to make this the only explanatory variable on murder rates. However, in return I would note that your analysis does not prove the contrary, that capital punishment IS a deterrent.

    There was promise in your essay that such proof might at any moment be forthcoming, but it never actually materialized (yes, the murder rate increased dramatically from 1962 onward, but the death penalty wasn’t suspended until 1972; in fact, during the four years it was suspended the national murder rate actually fell – it didn’t start going back up again until 1977, the year after the death penalty was reinstated). In the end, all one could say was that the jury was still out.

    In my opinion, that is not sufficient. Simply put, I think the field on which we are debating is sloped, and rightly so: the burden is on the death penalty proponent to prove to us that the practice is a significant deterrent. What is “significant”? I suppose that’s up to the reader – you may very justifiably argue that if even one person is deterred from murder, that is enough for you. I, however, would set a much higher bar; I don’t know exactly where it is, but to quote the old judge, I’d know it when I saw it. And I didn’t see it in your essay.

  136. Mr Sharp, it would be unwise to make assumptions about how I think or what I believe as we do not know each other. To state that I am disturbed by the case simply becasue it is a death penalty case is extremely presumptuous on your part.

    What disturbs me is that despite the defendants stating that they are guilty and the prosecution wasting the courts time and going forward with a trial. It disturbs me that they would rather see the persons dead than accept their confession. It’s not like they are saying it was manslaughter over murder, they said they were guilty and willing to serve a life sentence. IMO it appears that justice is taking a backseat to vengeance. Even the family members said they were against the death penalty until becoming a victim. It just seems like the law is being used to exact revenge and I find that disturbing.

    In reference to Bermuda’s relationship with Britain yes Britain’s legal control over Bermuda, as you put it, supercedes the Bermuda constitution. They gave us our constitution and also have the power to revoke it at anytime. In very simple terms Bermuda is the property of Britain until such time as the people decide that they no longer want ot be a colony. Why we are still a colony, the reasons are varied but one argument that I’ve heard often is that we see no reason not to be. The benefits outweigh the negatives.

  137. Karma Ms Morris. The playground is filed with supervision, yet the ones that do have never been too school.

    Ironic eh?

    Gotta love this ‘extra bermudian activity’……..

    Onions rule.

  138. The Death Penalty prevents repeat murders because the convicted offender cannot kill from the grave as opposed to work release.
    It also prevents retailiation but liberals and their weak laws continue to destroy their juristictions with miseducation. Bermuda must destroy liberalism to survive and retire in peace.

  139. Looks like the Gitmo boys have arrived. I think i’ll stick too local politics and not those of …well yah know.

    Gotta run. G.W. on the line……Sheep? I said oil ..not the soil……..

  140. black republican,

    what would you suggest we replace “liberalism” with?

    And can you define “liberalism”? Some would say that “liberalism” helped bring about equal rights.
    Some would say seeking equal rights for homosexuals is “liberal”… is that wrong, too?

    There are many pros and cons with the Death Penalty and I assure you that your arguments have been taken into account by many “liberals” and found to be not enough.

    Anyway, other than Mr. Sharpe’s denunciation of the studies that have shown that it isn’t actually a deterrent, while not actually showing that it IS a deterrent, other than his “truism”, which, quite frankly, looks more like an opinion, (yes, as you said, it stops recidivism, but is that the point?) there’s no evidence that it actually IS a deterrent for murder.

    So the only argument, really, is…

    Is its ability enough to stop recidivism enough for me to support it?

    Not really. Not for me. There’s too much else involved.

  141. T Lietch:

    Thanks for taking the time and effort>

    My responses in order.

    1) you did not grasp what I was saying here, which was innocents are more likley to be convicted and more likely to die in prison, when sentenced to life than an innocent is likely to be executed, because of the enhanced due process of the death penalty. Niether is compensable, using your words, but is more likely with a life sentence. I was clear on that.

    2) It is a truism that executed murders do not murder, again, and is important regarding the protection of innocents. You wrongly treat it s a minor issue, quote “This argument makes for nice window dressing, but it holds no logical weight”. It is 100% logical, unless you are 100% unreasoned. Living murderers harm and murder, again. Executed ones do not. It is a very big deal.

    3) We will continue to disagree on deterrence. It is important and it is real, as you acknowledge, meaning it is an enhanced deterrent over lesser sentences, and therefore, important. You concede deterrence.

    4) You write: “Agreed, no-one that I’m aware of has ever entered a plea for the death penalty – are they legally able to? I think not.” That was the point. It’s absurd, because the death penalty is a much worse sanction than life. That is why I use it. Murderers plea bargain to life because a life sentence is much preferred over a death sentence. That was the point.

    5) You write: “You’re probably right on this one.” You haven’t shown me wrong on any.

    I suppose I’d rather chase an ideal than take a brutal but achievable short-cut.

    6) You’re probably right on this one too.

    Yep

  142. T Leitch:

    On your second response

    Regarding “Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let’s be clear”.

    The entire point of the essay was not to prove deterrence, it was to show how poor the article was and how dishonest it was. I write essay for specific reasons.

    No disagreements between us, here.

  143. Ms. Morris, you write: “To state that I am disturbed by the case simply because it is a death penalty case is extremely presumptuous on your part.”

    Sharp: I don’t think so.

    Morris writes: “What disturbs me is that despite the defendants stating that they are guilty and the prosecution wasting the courts time and going forward with a trial. It disturbs me that they would rather see the persons dead than accept their confession.

    Sharp: Exactly. The prosecutor does not accept the plea, only because a sentence less than death is unjust. That is why the plea is not accepted. You object because the alternate is death.

    Morris writes: It’s not like they are saying it was manslaughter over murder, they said they were guilty and willing to serve a life sentence. IMO it appears that justice is taking a backseat to vengeance.

    Sharp: you cannot show that a life sentence is any more or less vengeance than is a death sentence. You, wrongly, presume that death is vengeance, when the prosecutor finds it to be justice. You presume death is vengeance, therefore you are opposed to the prosecutor refusing the plea. It is only because you oppose death.

    morris writes: Even the family members said they were against the death penalty until becoming a victim. It just seems like the law is being used to exact revenge and I find that disturbing.

    sharp: only because you oppose death, as I stated. There is no other reason.

  144. There s only one problem with the death penalty. It is untenable because it relies on the legal system being infallible. There have been myriad cases where death penalty convictions have been overturned due to fraudulent or missing evidence. At least with life imprisonment, there is the opportunity to reverse a wrong verdict. No such luck with the death penalty.

    Over a year ago my daughter had a friend brutally murdered. Her name was Rhiana Moore, and she was a great kid. It has been a tremendous strain on all of us. I have been filled with rage towards the apparent individual responsible, and I fully understand the desire for vengeance. But if I acted on that vengeance, and the man who is awaiting trial was found to be innocent, I could never forgive myself. Catching the perpetrator in the act itself is another matter entirely.

    Understanding only too well the vagaries and incompetencies of every aspect of the judicial system, I’m unwilling to make the ultimate call. I think a society should also show that same restraint and forethought.

  145. Mr Sharp, your opinion of how I think does not change how I actually think. If you don’t agree with what I think that’s fine, doesnt change the faacts though.

    “a sentence less than death is unjust. That is why the plea is not accepted”

    That is an opinion not a fact.

    “You object because the alternate is death.”

    That is your opinion again, not fact. That’s just way to simplistic an answer for me to get my mind around truthfully. Again, I have a problem with wasting the time of the court for a trial when the defendents have said they are guilty. I just don’t see the point. They said they’re guilty they’re willing to be sentenced lock em up and call it a day. Why push for the trial? Is it only becuase the sentence will be death? Why put the family through the pain and agony of trial a where they will have to relive those horrifying moments again and again? When do they get to start to heal?

    Mr Sharp I postulate that due to the many years you have spent arguing for the death penalty in the states it has made you unable to see other points of view. (I wouldn’t state that as a fact because I don’t know you and that would be presumptuous) Yes, I am against the death penalty but Im also against waste. Of time, and money.

    “You presume death is vengeance”

    I do not presume that the death penalty is an act of vengeance. You presume that I do. Let’s be clear on that. Truthfully I think it is what it is, an option for sentencing. Because in a hypothetical situation I said that a change in my opinion on the death penalty would be likened to vengeance you assume that I feel the death penalty is an act of vengeance.

    On this last bit:

    morris writes: Even the family members said they were against the death penalty until becoming a victim. It just seems like the law is being used to exact revenge and I find that disturbing.

    sharp: only because you oppose death, as I stated. There is no other reason.

    No, its exactly as I said it. In a sense theyre a real life version of my hypothetical situation. Becoming a victim is the only thing that has changed for them. Once their situation changed they changed their mind. Youve spent a significant part of your life arguing the death penalty Mr Sharp I’ve spent a significant part of mine studying people. In this situation you have yet to show me how the need for retribution cannot possibly be a factor in either my hypothetical situation or the example you provided.

  146. Mr. Sharp,

    Just curious…

    if “Think about if it happened to your family” ISN’T a call to consider vengeance, what is it?

    When pro-death penalty people ask you to consider taking another person’s life BECAUSE they took the life of someone in your family… well, that’s vengeance, isn’t it?

    Or am I misunderstanding what they mean?

  147. Mr Sharp,

    1) I contend that you are trying to have your cake and eat it too here. One the one hand, you argue that false convictions that lead to life imprisonments are more likely to lead to an innocent being killed by the justice system, yet in other arguments you suggest that convicted murderers will be released. Why would it be that an innocent wrongly convicted of a murder has a small chance of release before their natural life expires, but an actual murderer has a good chance of going free? Please take a direction on this one.

    2) Yes, “it is a truism that executed murders do not murder, again”. It is also a truism that spouse abusers who are executed for hitting their wives will not get a chance to murder them. It is also a truism that if you execute elementary school teachers they will not get a chance to murder their students. It is also a truism that if you execute me today, I will not get a chance to murder anyone. All of these statements are 100% logical. None of them argue in favour of executing spousal abusers, elementary school teachers, or myself. Whatever your other arguments in favour of the death penalty, the simple fact that a living person is more likely to commit murder than a dead one is both 100% logical and 100% irrelevant.

    3) I do not concede deterrence, as much as you would like me to. I have agreed that it is unreasonable for me to assert that there is no-one, in the history of the world, who was deterred from murder due to the threat of execution. If that is the standard you personally require to justify the practice, I suppose you no longer feel the need to continue to argue the point. However, I made it quite clear that I feel it is insufficient for the deterrence effect to be merely trivial, and the analysis I have undertaken and seen in your own essays does nothing to suggest that the deterrence is significant. As you have pointed out, it was never your intention to prove conclusively that there is a strong and measureable deterrent effect, either because you don’t think such a conclusion can be drawn with the available data, or because you think the logic that “people would rather live than die” is airtight. Yet again, Mr Sharp, I state my belief that when one is in a state in which murder seems an appropriate course of action, it is probably the case that the ability to prioritize and perform cost-benefit analyses has long since left the building.

    4) The simple fact that the state won’t allow an individual to plea for death does not prove that death is a worse fate. I’m glad I do not have your faith in government knowing what is in my own best interests. And because no-one is legally allowed to plea for death, how can you point to the absence of death pleas as proof that no-one would want them? No-one has ever plead for punishment in the big comfy chair either – I guess by your logic that must be a fate worse than prison.

    5) I thought this was going to be an agree-to-disagree point, but it seems that my rebuttal in point (1) has reopened it. You seem convinced that we are at great peril of wrongly convicting an innocent and forcing them to spend the rest of their natural life in prison – maybe a system where life means life isn’t as impossible as you think?

    6) I note that you have not addressed my concern that even the slimmest probability of executing an innocent is unacceptable, however small that may be. Are you agreeing that mistakes might be made, and arguing that so long as they are sufficiently rare this collateral damage is acceptable? If so, I’m afraid we’re at another agree-to-disagree moment.

  148. Mr Sharp,

    Apologies for the break in the line of thought, but to now turn to “Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock”

    In this essay you take to task a survey developed and performed by Radelet and Lacock; I have not read the survey but I’m guessing the conclusions were put forward to suggest that capital punishment was undesriable. I have no qualms with your analysis that the survey was constructed in such a way to bias the results, as I tend to be very sceptical of surveys and find they are almost never truly neutral.

    I find the following to be a useful summary of your points, though you do not lay it out this way until half-way through. You feel the death penalty is justified for the following four reasons,:
    1) Capital punishment is a just and appropriate sanction for some murders.
    2) Capital punishment saves lives as it enhances incapacitation.
    3) Capital punishment saves lives as it enchances due process.
    4) Capital punishment saves lives as it enchances deterrence.

    I think you are absolutely right that if one does not accept the first point, the other three are moot. I do not accept the first point, and you do – and this is the heart of our disagreement, even though we spend most of our time on the others since they are matters of facts, not opinions or beliefs.

    Turning to the other three:

    Enhanced incapacitation:
    You mention this as a benefit but don’t really discuss how it works; I assume that is because it is obvious, and you are referring to your “a dead murderer can’t murder again” argument, which I have discussed in previous posts.

    Enhanced due process:
    You argue that we take far greater care when prosecuting individuals who are on trial for their lives than those who are on trial merely for prison sentences. If enhanced due process is the goal, why not just enhance due process for everyone, regardless of the punishment they face? The fact that we currently operate in a system where we (allegedly) take greater care when death is on the line does not imply that death has to be on the line in order for us to take greater care!

    Enhanced deterrence:
    The deterrence argument takes up the lion-share of the essay, and while we have discussed many of the points below already, there are some new additions to the debate.

    On the issue of deterrence, you point out that no-one on the Radelet and Lacock survey was unreasonable enough to argue that no-one was ever deterred from murder due to the existence of capital punishment. You also state that we can never convincingly know exactly how many would-be murderers were deterred, or the related question of how many innocent lives were saved, (though I will follow up on the “16 recent studies” finding “4-28” avoided murders per execution, as the methodology employed would be of great interest). I don’t agree that it would be impossible to determine that there was significant deterrent effect if, indeed, there was a significant deterrent effect. I also disagree with your contention, much later in the essay, that the burden of proof is in my camp instead of yours – we’re not the one’s suggesting we kill anybody, so I would think the burden remains with you. That is, of course, just an opinion.

    You go on to discuss the difficulty in specifying what “significant” is, and I must admit I’m not really sure, but to put in a preliminary framework let’s say that I would accept that the death penalty is a significant deterrent if we could reject the null hypothesis (that it is not) by performing a multivariate regression on the murder rates in the various US states with, say, a 95% confidence level (two tailed, of course – I would be interested to find out if capital punishment serves as an anti-deterrent by legitimizing the use of violence as a means of solving problems). The multivariate aspect would hopefully allow us to remove all of the other state-specific cultural aspects that affect murder rates, and distill out the pure “death penalty effect”.

    You then proceed with the argument that no prisoner has ever asked for death, and almost all go to great effort to avoid it – this last part extends the argument that death is worse than prison. My retort would be twofold: (1) under current US law, it is required that lawyers do everything they can to minimize the chances of there being an execution – this is a good example of the “enchanced due process” argument you put forward. It is not the criminal speaking in these statistics, it is the legal system; and (2) insofar as criminals do go to great lengths to avoid their own executions, call it the manifestation of hope – rightly or wrongly, they believe that one day they will be freed. Ultimately, however, whatever actions convicted criminals do to save their lives is a red herring in the deterrent effect – as you point out, they actually weren’t deterred as they’ve already committed their crimes, so whether they fear death after the fact is too little, too late. As far as the completely anecdotal I-was-going-to-kill-so-and-so-but-feared-being-executed, it’s easy to say you would have murdered someone but didn’t – and if your goal is to support capital punishment, it’s VERY easy to find a large number of people who will claim that but-for the death penalty, they would have committed murder.

    Your four-way analysis of the deterrence/death penalty matrix is an interesting way to look at the problem, but you are viewing the world in a vacuum, without all the nasty, real-life frictions that are associated with it (like the possiblity of innocents being executed) and again must answer the logical conclusion one draws from your kill-them-because-they-pose-a-non-zero-chance-of-murder argument.

    In summary: I don’t feel that capital punishment is a just and appropriate sanction for murder. I’m not sure whether that view causes or is caused by my views on the other subjects. We will almost certainly not end up agreeing on this, but it has been a pleasure reading your essays, getting to understand your views, and discoursing with you.

  149. responses to T Leitch

    1) Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Greater due process assures us that murderers get greater due process protections on death row than serving life. In the US, there is not doubt about that greater due process protection. Therefore, innocent are more likely to die in prison while serving life than it is that an innocent is likely to be executed. This represents the enhanced due process of the death penalty.

    I also argue that living murderers are more likely to harm or murder, again, than are executed murderers – enhanced incapacitation. An obvious truism, which doesn’t conflict with the enhanced due process.

    2) You make an argument I am not making. But,your’s also makes my point. No executed criminal will ever harm again. A truism. I support the death penalty for very serious crimes and no others. I am, generally, only looking at the death penalty and a life sentence for the types of crimes, currently, given those sentneces. Not for folding napkins the wrong way or for three year olds who throw temper tantrums.

    3) I don’t care if you concede deterrence. It is irrelvant to me. All negative prospects deter some, another truism. My deterrence argument is much stronger than you write. I am never suggesting only one was deterred from murder in all of history and that such makes my point. It is that all negative outcomes/consequences deter some, not only a trusim, but one so strong that all admit that they see it every day, because it is so ingrained in all of us. The don’t spit at strangers, run red lights, cheat on our taxes, the list goes on and on and on, every day, every year for all persons in the overwhelming majority of circumstances. Is it, likely, that the most severe legal sanction is a significant deterrent to some potential murders? Yes, we know it is, because many have told us so.

    4) The plea bargain discussion was a description of how silly the point is. Of course no one pleas to a death sentence, because everyone already knows a plea is to a lesser sentence. Everyone already concedes that the death penalty is a more severe sanction. A murder can plead guilty and request the death penalty, btw.

    I facts show you to be wrong, in a context of considering deterrence, that you don’t think that the death penalty is a worse fate than a life sentence. Over 99% of those subject to a death penalty tell us they find the death penalty much worse. It has nothing to do with what is best for you, but only what set of facts suggests the greater deterrent.This set of facts is overwhelming and you present nothing to contradict them.

    5) I never stated that life doesn’t mean life. I stated that anti death penalty claims that life was a perfect solution, therefore execution isn’t necessary, are being, intentionally deceptive, because of the facts. We know that living murderers harm and murder again, in prison, after escape and that lifers do, often, get out of prison, by several different legal methods. Very true and not contradicted.

    6) I have always agreed that innocents are at risk of execution. I know of no one that disagrees. My point was clear, innocents are more at risk without the death penalty. I, sincerely doubt that you are so concerned about innocents dying because of government errors, that you would impose a stop to all of those government programs. For example, in the US, I would suggest that near 100,000 innocent have been murdered in the US, since 1973, by known criminals who we have put on parole or probation and who were under government supervision at the time of the murders.

    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    Dudley

  150. Uncle Elvis:

    As a personal note, for good reasons, I never use “If your loved one was brutally murdered, you would be for the death penalty.”

    There are many reasons why a person may use that argument.

    First, I know of no case, although I am sure many exist, whereby a loved one murdered the murderer who murdered their loved one. That would be vengeance.

    Secondly, in all other cases the murder victim survivors may find the death penalty the only appropriate sanction, but they allow the criminal justice system to handle that. Even in those cases where the murderer is given less than death, over 99% of all murder cases, I am unaware of the victim survivors taking matters into their own hands, even thought I am certain it happens.

    Thirdly, I speak with many murder victim survivors, and they are all very different people, just like we all are.

    Many different reasons are given for desiring death.

    Often, I hear that because the murder was so devastating for so many lives, for so long, that execution is the only right thing to do, so that there is no chance of that murderer ever murdering again. It would be cruel and unconscionable to give the murderer a second of 4000th chance, depending on the case.

    In that case, they are actually making a case for compassion.

    Some say it would simply be unconscionable to allow a murder to live. “My loving daughter was raped and murdered. That scum has lost the right to live.” The idea of that murderer, living and breathing, exercising, reading, reliving the crime, etc., is just to difficult for some to even imagine.

    There is a different story for every case, just as there are murder victim survivors who oppose the death penalty.

    In looking at any different set of cases, we would see love, compassion, anger, hatred, justice, revenge, longing, retribution – the list goes on forever.

  151. I’m not sure if you intentionally misunderstood what I was saying or just missed it.

    I was asking about pro-Death penalty folks who use that as a reason when arguing their point, evidenced here on this very thread.

    I never claimed that you had, just whether or not you agreed that using that argument in a discussion IS, in fact, a call for vengeance.

  152. Ms. Morris:

    You are in error. The only reaso a DA would not take a life sentnce plea, is because they found it an unjust sentence for the crime. There is no other reason. Not opinion. Fact.

    I understand and encounter and appreciate people with other views.

    Both my opinion and the reasoned facts say your position is based upon your opposition to the death penalty.

    You “only don’t see the point” because you cannot understand why the justice of the death penalty would trump a plea to life. That was my point.

    So, I will end it there.

  153. Elvis:

    I never said you said that, I just made a personal note, because I wanted to.

  154. Mr. Sharp.

    Your claims of the innocent not being executed are incorrect.

    http://officeofstrategicinfluence.com/deathpenalty/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/12/national/12DEAT.html?ex=1205985600&en=6ed4a8d8e59d018b&ei=5070

    http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/

    How many more have been unaccounted for?

    As long as there are problems with the judicial system, then the death penalty must be waived. There is no reason to compound one injustice with another.

  155. Well as it’s all the rage to reply in those 6 points:

    1. You argue greater due process is given to death penatly cases than life sentence cases, and therefore it is less likely an innocent is convicted. Ignoring for the moment the magnitude of innocents cleared off of death row each year, surely this just points to a flaw in the justice system, rather a reason for the death penatly?

    Is the only way to get a judge to do his job properly to hang death over the case?

    2. Yes, killing someone will ensure they never kill again, but this doesn’t make it the right course of action to take. It’s also a slippery slope, as T. Leitch was pointing out. I also believe that many murders are the result of a unique set of circumstances, and that we as a society should promote rehabilitation whenever possible. It seems cowardly and lazy to condemn people to death for a single act.

    3. You’re still missing the point on deterrence. Yes, I chose to not run that red light on my way in due to fear of prosecution. My thought process is not the same as a murderer in 99.9% of cases. Similarly, magnitude of deterrence has to be a consideration, if for no other reason than policy decisions of a government should be based on such things.

    4. Don’t have anything to say.

    5. Life in prison without parole, if enforced, is a guaranteed way of protecting the public from criminals. The fact that some escape is no more relevant to the discussion than the fact that crinimals on death row have escaped.

    6. I agree that the number of innocents killed by repeat offenders is likely to be higher than the number of wrongly executed, but your estimate seems quite high – 20% of murders done by repeat offenders? If that number is brought down to 5% or so, then the odds of being killed by a repeat offender in the US would be about 750 in 300,000,000, or 0.0000025. The odds are much higher that you’d be killed by a repeat assault offender, so should we introduce the death penatly for that too? How about DUI?

  156. Dudley Sharp et al.

    Your arguments and counter-arguments with regard to the rights or wrongs of legal execution ar becoming laborious now to say the least. I would suggest that, like me, many listers are by now skimming the contents of these missives.

    There really is no argument. Legal excecution is as barbaric as the crime for which it is in place and the great majority of the civilised world has stopped the practice long since – except for that large neighbour of yours that within living memory was hanging black people from the cottonwood trees. It will NEVER return.

    “Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.”
    (W.Somerset Maugham)

  157. Lostin:

    1. Please read these, fully:

    The 130 (now 135) death row “innocents” scam
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx

    “The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx

    2. I have never argued that execution should be used because executed murderers can’tharm again. It is a result of the death penalty , not the reason for it. It is a simple truism that executedmurderers never harm, again, living ones do harm and murder again.

    3. No,I am not missing the point on deterrence. I understand the differences in deterrence for different people and different actions or inactions. I was, only, making the obvious point that we all live and respond to deterrence every day, if not every how, by how we act, as a consequence of subcounscious and conscience decisons based upon deterrence. Criminals do the same things.

    5. You write: “Life in prison without parole, if enforced, is a guaranteed way of protecting the public from criminals.” Yes, but less of a guarantee than a dead murderer. Lifers escape and murder, again, they murder fellow prisoners, guards, medical personel, etc,in prison and they are releasedin the US because of the legal issues I mentioned. States in the US are making the moves to release lifers, based upon costs, throughout the US. Just do a search on prison costs and states saving money.

    I agree with your statement on lifers and death row inmates both remaining a risk. However, in many cases, death row is more secure than the lifer fascilities and in eithercase, we all agree that executed murderers do not harm or murder, again. That was always my point. I have never stated that living murderers, serving life or on death roware, both, constant risks. They are.

    6. We agree on this point, in a limited way. To expand, I am only speaking of that set of prisoners that are subject to the death penalty and the diffrerences in safety of those same criminals sentneced to life or death. This is a death penalty discussion, not one of other criminals of lesser crimes and thereofore lesser sanctions and what they may or may not do.

    Some seem to read into my statements, that which is not there.

    I support the death penalty because I find it a just and appropriate sanction for some crimes, the same foundation, generally, that most poeple give to support any legal sanction for any crime.

    Secondarily, the death penalty is a better protector of innocent lives, than is a life sentence. That is not a reason for the death penalty, but an outcome of its implementation.

    I support sanctions only if they are deserved. I could never support them only because they protect innocents. It would be either immoral or amoral to support sanctions only becuae of their utility. Sanctions, to be moral, must have a foundation in justice, a just and deserved punsihment based upon the crime(s) committed.

  158. Stella:

    You make one of the wroste arguments against the death penalty. It is either amoral or immoral, depending upon your foundation.

    You write: “Legal excecution is as barbaric as the crime for which it is in place.”

    Not in the least.

    Killing equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of death penalty opponents

    We execute guilty murderers who have murdered innocent people.

    The difference between crime and punishment, guilty murderers and their innocent victims is very clear to most.

    The moral confusion exists when people blindly accept the amoral or immoral position that all killing is equal.

    The anti death penalty folks are looking at an act — “killing” — and saying all killings are the same. Only an amoral person would equate acts, without considering the purpose behind them.

    For those, like some anti death penalty folks, who believe all killing is morally equivalent, they would equate the slaughter of 6 million innocent Jews and 6-7 million additional innocents with the execution of those guilty murderers committing that slaughter. They would also equate the rape and murder of children with the execution of the rapist/murderer.

    This is what the anti death penalty folks do, morally equate killing (murder) with the punishment for that murder, another killing (execution).

    For such anti death penalty folks to be consistent, they must also equate holding people against their will (illegal kidnapping) with the sanction for it, the holding people against their will (legal incarceration) or the taking money away from people (illegal robbery) with a sanction for that, taking money away from people (legal restitution).

    Most folks understand the moral differences.

    Some anti death penalty folks are either incapable of knowing the moral differences between crime and punishment, guilty criminals and their innocent victims, or they are knowingly using a dishonest position by equating killing (murder) with killing (execution).

  159. Mr. Sharpe,

    Firstly, I find the assumption of your own moral authority on this to be a little offensive, especially after denouncing those that oppose the death penalty for the same thing. The tone of your essays is very high-horse and negative towards people who have a different point of view. I’m not sure if you’re trying to reassure yourself and others with the same view or to reason others to your way of thinking, but the tone of these indicates the former.

    Telling people outright that they are wrong for thinking how they do is… well… it’s not helping.

    Saying that thinking that killing is wrong, period, is the wrong way to think, then demanding that they “MUST also equate…” other things is just bizarre to me.

    You are expressing your opinions as absolutes. They aren’t. They’re just your opinion.

    You’re also rewriting reality.

    Most anti-death penalty folks think INTENTIONALLY killing someone is wrong and immoral, no matter who does it. You’re painting us as… well, I’m not sure, but you sure do seem to look down on us and think we’re idiots.

    Also, do you have any evidence to back up your claim of “Most folks understand the moral differences”?

  160. Stella writes:

    “the great majority of the civilised world has stopped the practice long since.”

    104 countries have the death penalty, 93 don’t

    Even in Western Europe, that collection of governments most opposed to capital punishment, their citizens actually do support the death penalty.

    from the French daily Le Monde, December 2006 (1):

    Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:

    Great Britain: 69%
    France: 58%
    Germany: 53%
    Spain: 51%
    Italy: 46%

    USA: 82%

    We are led to believe there isn’t death penalty support in England or Europe. European governments won’t allow executions when their populations support it: they’re anti democratic. (2)

    Death penalty support is much deeper and much wider than we are often led to believe, with significant percentages of those who say they, generally, oppose the death penalty, actually supporting it when it is a true death eligible crime.

    For example, polling finds death penalty support, for murder, is from about 62-74% depending on the US poll.

    However, when, specifically asking about capital, death penalty eligible murders, the supportis consistently around 80%. Very few murdersare death eligible in the US. Therefore, the polls only asking about “murders” are not relevant, because very few murders are death eligible. Ask about the only capital, death eligible murders, and support goes way up, with those relvant murders.

    (1) The recent results of a poll conducted by Novatris/Harris for the French daily Le Monde on the death penalty shocked the editors and writers at Germany’s left-leaning SPIEGEL ONLINE (Dec. 22, 2006). When asked whether they favored the death penalty for Saddam Hussein, a majority of respondents in Germany, France and Spain responded in the affirmative.

    (2)An excellent article, “Death in Venice: Europe’s Death-penalty Elitism”, details this anti democratic position (The New Republic, by Joshua Micah Marshall, 7/31/2000). Another situation reflects this same mentality. “(Pres. Mandela says ‘no’ to reinstating the death penalty in South Africa – Nelson Mandela against death penalty though 93% of public favors it, according to poll. “(JET, 10/14/96). Pres. Mandela explained that “. . . it was necessary to inform the people about other strategies the government was using to combat crime.” As if the people didn’t understand. South Africa has had some of the highest crime rates in the world in the ten years, since Mandela’s comments. “The number of murders committed each year in the country is as high as 47,000, according to Interpol statistics.” As of 2006, 72% of South Africans want the death penalty back. (“South Africans Support Death Penalty”, 5/14/2006, Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research

    NOTE: Some recent polls – with no mention of specific crimes.

    97%+ of Guatemalans support the death penalty. 2.6% oppose
    (telephone survey, newspaper Prensa Libre, 2/14/08)
    www(dot)latinamericapress.org/article.asp?lanCode=1&artCode=5545

    79% support the resumption of hanging in Jamaica. 16% oppose. (Bill Johnson Polling for The Gleaner (Jamaica) Newspaper, 1/12-13/08

    Two-thirds of Czechs for death penalty reintroduction – poll
    Prague- Almost two-thirds of Czechs believe that death penalty should exist in the Czech Republic, while one-third believes the opposite, according to a poll the CVVM agency conducted in May and released. June 12, 2008, Ceskenoviny.cz/news/

  161. Elvis:

    I have no moral authority except as a thinking human being. I offer my own opinions, not those of a general nature for all others to ascribe. Just like you.

    If you don’t like my tone or methods, I could care less.

    Stella did say that legal executions were as barbaric as the crimes committed which resulted in those executions. I responded properly.

    I don’t think the rape and murder of children is as barbaric as the execution of that rapist/murderer. I find obvious moral differences between crimes and their punishments.

    I find it either amoral or immoral to equate “as equals” the murder of innocents with the legal sanction of execution for committing those murders.

    That is what Stell did. I think she is dead wrong.

    Fine with me if you disagree.

    Elvis writes: “Most anti-death penalty folks think INTENTIONALLY killing someone is wrong and immoral, no matter who does it.”

    That is simply untrue. Even anti death penalty people believe in the right to self defense and a just war, both of which, often, result in death, as a result of intentional killing.

    I don’t think any of you are idiots. I wouldn’t respond if I did. I think you are thinking, thoughtful people.

    If I find an error or weak point in an argument, or a misinterpretation of my position, I try to make the relevant point.

    That’s it.

    I have never found anyone that didn’t understand the moral differences between innocents harmed and the guilty person that committed that harm, between the injury and the legal sanction for that injury.

    Did I wrongly presume that at least 50.1% of the people can see the moral differences?

    If if you oppose the death penalty, I presume most still understand those moral differences and can also understand that, even in death penalty opposition, most would know that those who support the death penalty do so, because they understand the moral differences between the rape and murder of children and the legal sanction of death as a punishment for that crime.

    I may be wrong, but, I suggest that at least 50.1% would not equate the “barbarism”of the 13 million innocents slaughtered in the Holocaust with the the alleged “barbarism” of those executed for carrying out the Holocaust.

    That is what Stella does. I, strongly, disagree.

  162. Ok. I’ll read your posts with an unsaid “In my opinion…” from here on in.

    Even when you state things as facts… or “truisms”, I’ll just take them to have the caveat of “I think…” or “I believe…”

    The rest? Whatever. I’m guessing you’re intentionally misreading what I say to suit your needs. I don’t think I can change that, so… why bother?

  163. Mr. Sharp.

    Using poll numbers to show that there is support for death penalty doesn’t make it right.

    Polls throughout time have shown tremendous support for all manner of wrongdoing. How many people were in favour of integration? The abolition of slavery? Votes for women? Abortion?

    In every one of those cases, those decisions to enable those actions were unpopular at the time, but turned out to be the right choice. Abolishing the death penalty is the same.

    The reason there is support for the death penalty is two-fold. First, there is a saturation of violence in the media these days, which sanitizes killing and torture. Secondly, there is an emotional disconnect between the public and the condemned. These prisoners are only known through the information that is made public. I would wager that anyone who actually saw someone executed would not be in favour of the death penalty, particularly if it was a botched one.

    You still haven’t addressed the exonerations I posted earlier. Just because someone might not be innocent of other things is no reason to quantify the right to execute them. Are there guilty walking the streets? Indubitably. Have their been people facing the death penalty and later found to be innocent? Definitely. And some people were unfairly executed, despite your protestations to the contrary.

    It is the height of hubris to ascribe to yourself the wisdom of Solomon, or even some deity, in determining this as the right course of action. Police, lawyers, juries, and judges are all fallible, as is the law itself. This is why the death penalty has been overturned in many countries, because of several instances of inmates who have been executed unjustly.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrongful_execution

    State sanctioned executions in today’s world show no societal evolution over the 2600 years since the Draco period in Greece or the 1500 years of Sharia law in the Muslim world. It’s amazing that the potential for abuse is overlooked by proponents such as yourself. But, then again, you’re convinced of your rectitude in this.

    The law is all we have to define us as a civilization. It is a real shame that we haven’t learned anything in the past 2600 years.

  164. ‘I may be wrong, but, I suggest that at least 50.1% would not equate the “barbarism”of the 13 million innocents slaughtered in the Holocaust with the the alleged “barbarism” of those executed for carrying out the Holocaust.’ That is what Stella does.’

    Please make this my last on the subject. I cannot and have not, read the whole of the diatribes of Dudley, but ‘dipping in’, I have come to the conclusion that he is deluded with his beliefs to the point of obsession. The last paragraph, above, has completely bamboozeled me so I will have to slink away

    There is a publication somewhere around which articles the stories of 100 American men who have recently been released from ‘Death Row’ prison situations; the majority of these having been convicted of murder, they were cleared by DNA. Most were convicted on the evidence of lies told by witnesses. How many innocent people have been convicted and executed? Just one execution of an innocent man is way too many.

    I hope you see the light one day Dudley.

  165. reply to: Renaissance Man
    re: your post of July 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Your links do not refute my claim that there is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

    Your first link: The Illinois claims of 52% innocent by DNA on death row are nothing short of bizarre. About 280 had been sent to death row, with maybe 6-8 cases of credible claims of actual innocence, fewer by DNA.

    see “The Death Penalty Debate in Illinois”, JJKinsella,6/2000, http://www.dcba.org/brief/junissue/2000/art010600.htm

    That link continued with claims of mutliple case where it was claimed actuall innocents wereexecuted.Not one of those cases has such a claim.

    The other two links do not find one case of an innocent executed.

  166. Stella:

    I am used to personal attacks, generally based on my refutation of the claims of others’ with facts.

    I gave carefulfull consideration of your claims and rebutted them with facts and reason.

    I am sorry you would not reply or attempt to do so, in kind.

  167. Would this be evidence that thankfully we didn’t execute these people?

    http://truthinjustice.org/68percent.htm

  168. Or perhaps that you caught them just in time?

  169. RM:

    I never stated or suggested that polling make right or wrong, not do I believe that they do.

    I was responding to Stella’s errors and included a poll, as well.

    The point of which was that, even in countires that don’t have the death penalty, there are many, if not a majority, who find that some crimes deserve the death penalty, as the appropriate sanction for the crime committed.

    That was the only point.

    It is not a matter of not learning anything over decades or millenia, it is a matter of philosophical/moral considerations.

    As with all crimes and punishments, all of us use our own foundations to determine what is just and unjust. It has been that way, from the beginning of recorded time and will always be so.

    Many find the death penalty to be just and appropriate and many do not.

    That’s the foundation of the debate.

  170. Oh, really, Mr. Sharp?

    Troy Farris
    http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jan1999/tex-j15.shtml

    Frank Basil McFarland
    http://www.ejusa.org/grip/reasonabledoubt/Frank%20Basil%20McFarland.html

    David Wayne Spence
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/28/opinion/the-impossible-crime.html

    James Lee Beathard
    http://www.spectacle.org/0600/death.html

    Jerry Lee Hogue
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/04/11/60II/main182812.shtml

    That’s five from just Texas, and just in the last 10 years.

    You have an agenda. Fine. Don’t pass off your opinion as absolute.

    @Martin, well cited.

  171. Martin:

    Re: Your link to the 68% error rate in death penalty cases:

    A Broken Study: A Review of “A Broken System: The Persistent Patterns of Reversals of Death Sentences in the United States”
    Dudley Sharp

    The article “A Broken System” was published in 2000. (1) It was a broken study.

    It found a 68% error rate is in death penalty cases, from 1973-1995. The overturning rate, because of error, was, at most 30%, if not much lower, not 68%. (2)

    Of the 5555 sentenced to death, from 1973-1995, the period of the study, 1648 cases, or 30%, were overturned because of some error in conviction or sentence.

    Those cases overturned because of statute has nothing to do with trial errors, the subject of the study.

    However, even 30% is too high, because other cases were overturned because of new law that didn’t exist at the time of the trial. Therefore, all of those were not overturned because of trial error.

    I suggest, based upon a thorough review, inclusive of cases overturned by “new law”, a review of true error in death penalty cases, from 1973-1995, will find that a final disposition of the cases, overturned because of error, will be 25% or below.

    Some examples of the criticism:

    Pennsylvania review: “(A Broken System”) counts cases thrown out when the United States Supreme Court overturned all existing death penalties in the 1970’s. He also counts cases that were reversed on appeal, even if that reversal was itself reversed on further appeal, reinstating the original conviction. Obviously, none of these reversals says anything about the fairness of the current administration of capital punishment.” (3)

    Florida Review: “Using the authors’ misleading definition, the “study” does, however, conclude that 64 Florida post-conviction cases were rife with “error” – even though none of these Florida cases was ultimately resolved by a “not guilty” verdict, a pardon or a dismissal of murder charges.” ” Indeed, in more than a third of the 64 cases cited by the “study,” the death sentence was reimposed, while in other cases the State agreed to accept a plea of life to spare the families of victims the trauma of additional court proceedings. These cases should not be included in a true “error rate” analysis, and if factored out, would show far less “error” in post-conviction cases than the “study” suggests.” “(The study) may leave readers with the false impression that Florida put the wrong individual away for an offense, when no such claim is supported by competent evidence.” (4)

    Nevada review: “Death penalty records are kept by the Nevada Supreme Court, Attorney General, Department of Prisons, 17 district attorneys and 17 court clerks, yet Liebman got his from criminal defense attorneys (who apparently reported their wins, but not their losses) and the NAACP Capital Punishment Project (whose agenda is the abolition of the death penalty).” “Second, it appears Liebman picked and chose his cases, tailoring the study to get certain results. He took cases from 1973-1995 for some results; 1993-1995 for other results; and 1973-April, 2000 for others. He used only published opinions for some results, but used unpublished opinions for others. He used only Nevada Supreme Court or federal appeal cases for some results, but added lower state court cases to increase reversals. Liebman didn’t count all Nevada cases. He excluded killers who discontinued their appeals. (He presumed they did so due to frustration with the system, not because they were proved guilty and accepted it.) Incredibly, he didn’t even count the eight men executed in Nevada since 1977!” (5)

    Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg; “The refusal to share underlying data with researchers is particularly troubling in light of the media misrepresentation of Liebman as a neutral professor heading a Columbia University study. In truth, Liebman maintains an active criminal defense practice, and has been litigating against the death penalty since long before he became a professor. His study was funded in large part by a grant from the anti-capital punishment Soros Foundation, with the stated purpose of “find[ing] effective ways to curb the [death] penalty’s use.” (Preface to Latzer and Cauthen article) (6)

    It should come as no surprise that:

    “Upon our request, Prof. Liebman (the primary author) declined to release his data tous.We therefore could not examine the cases or verify the decisions in the “Broken System”. (7)

    To decline releasing data is a very big deal.

    (1) A Broken System: The Persistent Patterns of Reversals of Death Sentences in the United States, (2000)

    (2) Based upon the publication date of “A Broken System”, 2000, this appears to be the most relevant data base:
    the data for 1973-1995, Appendix table 1. Prisoners sentenced to death and the outcome sentence, by year of sentencing, 1973-1998, “Capital Punishment, 1998”, Bureau Of Justice Statistics BULLETIN, published December, 1999,

    Click to access cp02.pdf

    (3) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/Pennsylvania.htm

    (4) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/Florida.htm

    (5) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/Nevada.htm

    (6) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/LCPreface.htm

    (7) endnote 11, page 28. “Another Recount: Appeals in Capital Cases”, Latzer and Cauthern, The Prosecutor,January/Frbruary 2001. http://www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/docs/prosecutor.pdf

  172. Mr Sharp.

    Somehow my earlier posting was lost in the ether. As for those unjustly executed:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/04/11/60II/main182812.shtml

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jan1999/tex-j15.shtml

    http://www.spectacle.org/0600/death.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/28/opinion/the-impossible-crime.html

    http://www.ejusa.org/grip/reasonabledoubt/Frank%20Basil%20McFarland.html

    That’s five cases, just from Texas, and just in the last ten years.

    As for the polling numbers, why cite them other than to show support for the cause? Any other use is disingenuous at best. This is why I drew the analogies I did.

    I have no disillusions about the deviant nature of criminals. I know that there are some truly evil people who are deserving, for want of a better word, a punishment suitable for their heinous crimes. My sole issue is that NO-ONE is infallible. When there is an infallible process to make the determination for a death sentence, I’ll have no problem with it. As yet, that process is undiscovered.

    FWIW, I’ve done forensic work pertaining to industrial accidents. There have been deaths due to design oversights and incorrect procedures. However, affixing blame to an individual in those cases is difficult even when there is concrete evidence, no pun intended. In the Code of Hammurabai, (which engineers must traditionally take to uphold), the builders responsible would have been put to death, should their failure result in another’s death. What the forensic work has taught me is that there are always new methods of investigation, new forms of evidence, new circumstances surrounding an event.

    As such, I am uncomfortable with assigning an absolute for the death penalty. There have been plenty of situations, despite your protestations to the contrary, that show bias, collusion, and poor judgement leading to incorrect convictions. In my area of forensic analysis, an engineering review board process involves many more experts in the relevant fields than in a judicial proceeding, and judgement is also rendered by other expert engineers, not members of the public. Even with that extreme level of scrutiny that simply isn’t available in most judicial proceedings, it’s not perfect.

    When you find the perfect judicial review system, let me know.

  173. Martin:

    Re: your link to the 68% error rate in death penalty cases. A response:

    A Broken Study: A Review of “A Broken System: The Persistent Patterns of Reversals of Death Sentences in the United States”
    Dudley Sharp

    The article “A Broken System” was published in 2000. (1) It was a broken study.

    It found a 68% error rate is in death penalty cases, from 1973-1995. The overturning rate, because of error, was, at most 30%, if not much lower, not 68%. (2)

    Of the 5555 sentenced to death, from 1973-1995, the period of the study, 1648 cases, or 30%, were overturned because of some error in conviction or sentence.

    Those cases overturned because of statute have nothing to do with trial errors, the subject of the study.

    Even the 30% is too high, because some of those cases were overturned because of new law that didn’t exist at the time of the trial. Therefore, all of those were not overturned because of trial error.

    I suggest, based upon a thorough review, inclusive of cases overturned by “new law”, a review of true error in death penalty cases, from 1973-1995, will find that a final disposition of the cases, overturned because of error, will be 25% or below.

    Some examples of the criticism:

    Pennsylvania review: “(A Broken System”) counts cases thrown out when the United States Supreme Court overturned all existing death penalties in the 1970’s. He also counts cases that were reversed on appeal, even if that reversal was itself reversed on further appeal, reinstating the original conviction. Obviously, none of these reversals says anything about the fairness of the current administration of capital punishment.” (3)

    Florida Review: “Using the authors’ misleading definition, the “study” does, however, conclude that 64 Florida post-conviction cases were rife with “error” – even though none of these Florida cases was ultimately resolved by a “not guilty” verdict, a pardon or a dismissal of murder charges.” ” Indeed, in more than a third of the 64 cases cited by the “study,” the death sentence was reimposed, while in other cases the State agreed to accept a plea of life to spare the families of victims the trauma of additional court proceedings. These cases should not be included in a true “error rate” analysis, and if factored out, would show far less “error” in post-conviction cases than the “study” suggests.” “(The study) may leave readers with the false impression that Florida put the wrong individual away for an offense, when no such claim is supported by competent evidence.” (4)

    Nevada review: “Death penalty records are kept by the Nevada Supreme Court, Attorney General, Department of Prisons, 17 district attorneys and 17 court clerks, yet Liebman got his from criminal defense attorneys (who apparently reported their wins, but not their losses) and the NAACP Capital Punishment Project (whose agenda is the abolition of the death penalty).” “Second, it appears Liebman picked and chose his cases, tailoring the study to get certain results. He took cases from 1973-1995 for some results; 1993-1995 for other results; and 1973-April, 2000 for others. He used only published opinions for some results, but used unpublished opinions for others. He used only Nevada Supreme Court or federal appeal cases for some results, but added lower state court cases to increase reversals. Liebman didn’t count all Nevada cases. He excluded killers who discontinued their appeals. (He presumed they did so due to frustration with the system, not because they were proved guilty and accepted it.) Incredibly, he didn’t even count the eight men executed in Nevada since 1977!” (5)

    Philadelphia Deputy District Attorney Ronald Eisenberg; “The refusal to share underlying data with researchers is particularly troubling in light of the media misrepresentation of Liebman as a neutral professor heading a Columbia University study. In truth, Liebman maintains an active criminal defense practice, and has been litigating against the death penalty since long before he became a professor. His study was funded in large part by a grant from the anti-capital punishment Soros Foundation, with the stated purpose of “find[ing] effective ways to curb the [death] penalty’s use.” (Preface to Latzer and Cauthen article) (6)

    It should come as no surprise that:

    “Upon our request, Prof. Liebman (the primary author) declined to release his data to us. We therefore could not examine the cases or verify the decisions in the “Broken System”. (7)

    To decline releasing data should be viewed as another blow to the credibility of “Broken System”.

    (1) A Broken System: The Persistent Patterns of Reversals of Death Sentences in the United States, (2000)

    (2) Based upon the publication date of “A Broken System”, 2000, this appears to be the most relevant data base:
    the data for 1973-1995, Appendix table 1. Prisoners sentenced to death and the outcome sentence, by year of sentencing, 1973-1998, “Capital Punishment, 1998”, Bureau Of Justice Statistics BULLETIN, published December, 1999,

    Click to access cp02.pdf

    (3) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/Pennsylvania.htm

    (4) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/Florida.htm

    (5) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/Nevada.htm

    (6) http://prodeathpenalty.com/Liebman/LCPreface.htm

    (7) endnote 11, page 28. “Another Recount: Appeals in Capital Cases”, Latzer and Cauthern, The Prosecutor,January/Frbruary 2001. http://www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/docs/prosecutor.pdf

  174. Dudley

    ‘I am used to personal attacks, generally based on my refutation of the claims of others’ with facts.’

    What insufferable arrogance!! you really do believe that your ‘facts’ refute don’t you. I apologise if you read my comments as personal abuse, I was merely passing an opinion. I prefer the following facts of Amnesty International for my argument.

    ‘…Amnesty says also that the states that continue to use the death penalty last year killed more people than in all but one of the last 25 years. Amnesty says in a new report that the leading death penalty countries include some of the most repressive nations in the world. They also include the United States.

    Anyone contemplating committing a capital crime should take care to avoid doing so in China, Iran, Vietnam and the United States. Accused wrongdoers in those four countries are more likely to be executed legally than anywhere else in the world.

    Legally executing people convicted of crimes dates back to pre-history. Modern distaste for this form of judicial punishment began in the 18th century with the writings of intellectuals like Voltaire. Venezuela abolished capital punishment in 1863. Since then, 119 other countries have ceased to execute criminals. That total takes in Bhutan, Greece, Samoa, Senegal and Turkey, all of which dropped the death penalty last year.’

  175. Martin:

    None of those 5 cases you linked have been found to be innocents executed, as I stated.

    It needs to be pointed out that in relevant cases, judges to look at and review claims of actual innocence. Credible evidence of innocence will stop or delay an execution and result in a hearing.

    There was no finding of actual innocence in any of those 5 cases. Looking at the appellate record would tell you why the judges, with all of the fact before them, allowed the executions to go forward.

    No one wants an innocent to be executed and judges are very giving when it comes to looking for all reasons to take inmates off of death row.

    The polling data was presented to make the point that even in countires that have no death penalty, many, if not a majority of their populations, do support it for crimes they find deserving of it.

    If you read Stella’s post, to which I was replying, I read it as saying that countries that have and people that support the death penalty are barbaric or uncivilized. She finds the sanction barbaric and that most civilized nations don’t have execution.

    My point was, in many of those anti death penalty counties, that Stella would likely describe as civilized (Western Europe?), that a majority of their people actually do support the death penalty for some crimes. I contend those counties are made up of their populations.

    Even though I find the death penalty just and appropriate and that the death penalty is a greater saver of innocent life, I don’t contend that anti death penalty folks are barbaric by sparing murderers at the cost of innocent lives or that they are uncivilized because they oppose justice.

    I think anti and pro death penalty folks just have a difference of moral opinion.

  176. Mr. Sharp.

    I can categorically state that my opposition is not a moral one. It is merely against the finality of the decision, when there simply is not enough due process to justify it.

    Believe what you will.

  177. RM:

    I have no reason not to believe you. I stand corrected.

    Do you accept that the due process protections of the death penalty are superior to the due process protections in a life punishment case?

    If so, do you find the finality and irreversibility of execution and dying while in prison different?

    Both are final, but, as you know, my opinion is that the greater due process of the death penalty assures that such innocent finality, will be less likley with death penalty due process.

  178. There are only improvements in the due process for death penalty cases because of opposition to the death penalty. Poor and under-represented convicts often get short shrift on this, and all other cases. At least the appeals process does allow for some further inspection at times. But it’s not always used to it’s full extent.

    Having been in forensics, and as an expert witness and analyst, I can tell you that due process is often lacking in many cases. That’s why I am reticent to apply a final solution when personal experience has exposed me to ingrained biases in the judicial system.

    I’m not perfect, and I can’t expect anyone else to be either. Because of the potential for mistakes, I just can’t support the death penalty. When there’s a mistaken sentence, that can’t be corrected.

  179. RM: I asked two questions. Could you answer them?

  180. OK, I will reiterate.

    The only improvements in due process are in cases where opponents of the death penalty take up the appeals process, or when the defendants themselves have sufficient funds to pursue that avenue. The process leading up to the conviction is no different than one leading up to a life sentence. The system is still stacked against the poor and the uneducated. The ONLY benefit of the appeals process is that many of the appeals are state mandated, so defendants get another shot at clemency. But since this is not applied equally, it’s still flawed. Life imprisonment has the same appeals process, three in total. But the option is always there to overturn an unjust conviction, and that’s just not possible if you’ve already killed the guy. Plus the requirements for due process vary widely from state to state. As long as there is not parity, then it’s unfair and biased.

    As for the end result being the same, well, that’s everyone’s lot in life. It must end at some time. If you execute someone, then they’ve died before their time. But if you imprison someone for life, they can continue to contribute. Execution removes the opportunity for their rehabilitation, and for the rehab of others.

    There was an excellent documentary on local TV about Bermuda’s prison system some time ago. All of the cautionary tales were there, with the interviews with the inmates themselves particularly telling. The lifers had accepted their lot, atoned for their crime, and were actively trying to prevent others from following their path. And when those minor criminals who had been rehabilitated and who are now productive members of society talked about the rehabilitation they had received, it was from the mentoring of lifers, in addition to mentors from outside.

    When prisons continually are over-filled with mostly poor, uneducated minorities, who have been disadvantaged for much of their lives, why not break the cycle, or at least slow it down, with insight from those who’ve started with similar mistakes? This works for all types of crime, and it’s so much more effective to reach the potential offenders early. They’re not going to listen to an ivory tower intellectual, they’re going to listen to someone who’s made the same mistakes, and then some.

    Let’s face it. A picture is all that will remain of an executed man, and the séance route is unlikely to provide the insight needed to reach younger prisoners before their behaviour worsens.

  181. murder is the biggest black business right now. hard to resist thank God am got a job.


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