This preview has intentionally blurred parts. Sign up to view the full document

View Full Document

Unformatted Document Excerpt

DEATH PRO PENALTY WEBPAGE This webpage is dedicated to the innocent victims of murder, may they always be remembered. If you wish to make a donation or a subscription payment to support this site, please click on one of the two buttons below. TABLE OF CONTENTS: Introduction The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment Historical Evidence of Deterrence Capital Punishment and the World Capital Punishment Vs. Life Without Parole Cliched Arguments Against Capital Punishment Racism and Capital Punishment Capital Punishment and its Costs The Constitutionality of Capital Punishment The Risk of Wrongful Execution of Innocents Capital Punishment and Christianity The Morality of Capital Punishment Abolitionist's Dictionary What Abolitionists Say and What They Mean Bibliography Death Penalty Related Sites Contact Information Donations INTRODUCTION: Putting to death people judged to have committed certain extremely heinous crimes is a practice of ancient standing, but in the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century, it has become a very controversial issue. Changing views on this difficult issue and many legal challenges to capital punishment working their way through the courts resulted in a halt to executions in the United States in 1967. Eventually, the Supreme Court placed a moratorium on capital punishment in 1972 but later upheld it in 1977, with certain conditions. My state of New York is a state that practiced capital punishment since its colonial days, then abolished it in 1965. But now, as of September 1, 1995, the death penalty is back in the books in accordance to Governor Pataki's campaign promise. As a staunch supporter of the death penalty, I consider this to be a good thing for my state and its citizens. Indeed, restoring capital punishment is the will of the people, yet many voices are raised against it. Heated public debate centers on questions of deterrence, public safety, sentencing equity, and the execution of innocents, among others. I have listened and read the arguments opposing the death penalty and I find that they are not at all convincing. Here's why: Return to Contents THE DETERRENT EFFECT OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: One argument states that the death penalty does not deter murder. Dismissing capital punishment on that basis requires us to eliminate all prisons as well because they do not seem to be any more effective in the deterrence of crime. Others say that states which do have the death penalty have higher crime rates than those that don't, that a more severe punishment only inspires more severe crimes. I must point out that every state in the union is different. These differences include the populations, number of cities, and yes, the crime rates. Strongly urbanized states are more likely to have higher crime rates than states that are more rural, such as those that lack capital punishment. The states that have capital punishment are compelled to have it due to their higher crime rates, not the other way around. Abolitionists also hold the notion that criminals do not fear death because they do not take time to think about the consequences of their acts. If that were true, then I wonder how police officers manage to arrest criminals without killing them. When a policeman holds a criminal at gunpoint and tells him to get on the ground, the criminal will comply fully in the vast majority of of these cases. Why would they do that unless they were afraid of the lethal power of the gun? It is because regardless of what abolitionists claim, criminals are not immune to fear! It is a common misconception to believe that fear is a thought process that has to be worked out with a piece of paper. It's not! It is an instinct that automatically kicks in when one is faced with lethal force! The examples below should confirm that point. During the temporary suspension on capital punishment from 1972-1976, researchers gathered murder statistics across the country. In 1960, there were 56 executions in the USA and 9,140 murders. By 1964, when there were only 15 executions, the number of murders had risen to 9,250. In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and 1975, after six more years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred rising to 23,040 in 1980 after only two executions since 1976. In summary, between 1965 and 1980, the number of annual murders in the United States skyrocketed from 9,960 to 23,040, a 131 percent increase. The murder rate -- homicides per 100,000 persons -- doubled from 5.1 to 10.2. So the number of murders grew as the number of executions shrank. Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University said: "While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the...[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed...In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century...Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the death penalty], every person who dies at a criminal's hands is a victim of our inaction." Notes Dudley Sharp of the criminal-justice reform group Justice For All: "From 1995 to 2000," "executions averaged 71 per year, a 21,000 percent increase over the 1966-1980 period. The murder rate dropped from a high of 10.2 (per 100,000) in 1980 to 5.7 in 1999 -- a 44 percent reduction. The murder rate is now at its lowest level since 1966. " The graph below drawn by the Bureau of Criminal Justice gives a general overview of the murder rate compared to the number of executions that had taken place in the US up to the year 2000: And that's not all. The most striking protection of innocent life has been seen in Texas, which executes more murderers than any other state. According to JFA (Justice for All), the Texas murder rate in 1991 was 15.3 per 100,000. By 1999, it had fallen to 6.1 -- a drop of 60 percent. Within Texas, the most aggressive death penalty prosecutions are in Harris County (the Houston area). Since the resumption of executions in 1982, the annual number of Harris County murders has plummeted from 701 to 241 -- a 72 percent decrease. Edward Koch, former mayor of New York City, said: "Had the death penalty been a real possibility in the minds of...murderers, they might well have stayed their hand. They might have shown moral awareness before their victims died...Consider the tragic death of Rosa Velez, who happened to be home when a man named Luis Vera burglarized her apartment in Brooklyn. "Yeah, I shot her," Vera admitted. "...and I knew I wouldn't go to the chair." More recently, a series of academic studies within the last six years show that the death penalty does indeed act as a deterrent to murder. These analysts count that between three and 18 lives would be saved by the execution of each convicted murderer. Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, co-authored a 2003 study and re-examined a 2006 study that found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. In an interview, he states: "Science does really draw a conclusion...There is no question about it. The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect. The results are robust. They don't really go away. I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) - what am I going to do, hide them?" These studies are among a dozen papers since 2001 that the death penalty has a deterrent effect.They all look at executions and homicides by year and by state or county in order to figure out the impact of the death penalty on homicides by accounting for other factors, such as unemployment data and per capita income, the probabilities of arrest and conviction and more. Among these conclusions: Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five, and 14). The Illinois moratorium on exectuions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston. Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor. The authors of these deterrent reports welcome criticism in the interests of science. However, their work is being attacked by opponents of capital punishment for their findings, not their flaws. Return to Contents HISTORICAL EVIDENCE OF DETERRENCE: There are many examples of how the death penalty deters murder, most haven't even been listed on this webpage. But here is an example of how the use of consistent executions have dramatically improved certain societies. In the 1800s, in English occupied India, there was one of the worst gangs of murdering thieves the world has ever known, the Indian hoodlum band known as the Thuggees. Through the course of their existence, dating back to the 1550s, the Thuggees were credited with murdering more than 2,000,000 people, mostly wealthy travelers. The killer secret society plagued India for more than 350 years. The Thuggees traveled in gangs, sometimes disguised as poor beggars or religious mendicants. Sometimes they wore the garb of rich merchants to get closer to unsuspecting victims. One of their principles was never to spill blood, so they always strangled their victims. Each member was required to kill at least once a year in order to maintain membership in the cult. But they killed in the name of religion. The deaths were conceived of as human sacrifices to Kali, the bloodthirsty Hindustani goddess of destruction. It came to pass that the Thuggees began to kill using pickaxes and knives. According to legend, the Thuggees believed that Kali devoured the bodies of their victims. The story goes that once a member of the society hid behind a tree in order to spy on the goddess. The angry goddess punished the Thuggees by making them bury their victims from then on. The ruling British government worked very hard to stop the Thuggee religion and its murderous practices. Between 1829 and 1848, the British managed to suppress the Thuggees by means of mass arrests and speedy executions. Indeed, rows and rows of Thuggees were left hanging from the gallows along the roads by the dozens. This not only established a zero recidivism rate, but it also greatly discouraged new membership into the cult. The most lethal practitioner of the cult of Thuggee was Buhram. At his trial it was established that he had murdered 931 people between 1790 and 1840. All had been strangled with his waistcloth. Burham was executed in 1840. Appropriately enough, he was hanged until he strangled. In 1832, the Agent to the GovernorGeneral of India, F. C. Smith had this to say about the Thugees and their deeds. I have never heard of such atrocities, or presided over such trials, such cold-blooded murders, such heart-rending scenes of distress and misery; such base ingratitude; such a total abandonment of the very principle which binds man to man; which softens the heart and elevates mankind above the brute creation...mercy to such wretches would be the extreme of cruelty to mankind...blood for blood. In 1882, the British government deemed the problem solved with the hanging death of the last known Thuggee. Good riddance. Back then, the British weren't as morally confused as they are now. Not only had they the insight to tell the difference between crime and punishment, but they also respected their moral responsibility to defend public safety by diligently countering barbarism, even in their colonies. If the British were anything back then like they are now, they would have been content to sit around on their hands reveling on how "civilized" they are to allow such and evil cult like the Thuggees to exist and terrorize the public. -gladly sacrificing public safety and social tranquility for some self-absorbed sense of delicacy. Most likely, the Thuggees would still be around today and for many centuries more to plague India. The Indians have a lot to be thankful for since the British eliminated that scourge over a century ago. They wouldn't have the nerve to effectively counter such barbarism these days. Return to Contents CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND THE WORLD: In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is a pledge among nations to promote fundamental rights as the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. The political elite in Europe often condemn the US as human rights violators since we still use the death penalty on murderers, which they insist is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But they couldn't be more wrong. Abolitionists interpret from Article 3 in that Declaration to proclaim each person's right to protection from deprivation of life, especially murderers! And they also point to Article 5, which states that no one shall be subjected to cruel or degrading punishment. From this, abolitinists self-righteously declare that the death penalty violates both of these rights. But in fact, nowhere in that declaration is the DP specifically condemned as a human rights violation! For instance, in Article 3 it states: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Strangely, from this, abolitionists interpret that the death penalty is a human rights violation since it deprives a person's right to life. But if we were to follow that reasoning, we would have to abolish prisons as a human rights violation as well since they deprive people of liberty. We would also have to abolish charging taxes and fines since they violate one's "security of person." Indeed, it is clear that the drafters of the Declaration of Human Rights had the moral coherence to recognize the distinction between crime and punishment which abolitionists try so desperately to erase. So the interpretation that abolitionists derive from Article 3 of the Declaration is illogical and contradictory. And in Article 5, it states: No one shall be subjected to cruel or degrading punishment. From this, abolitionists insist that capital punishment is ruled out because it is "the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment." But that is their opinion, only! Indeed, what is stated in Article 5 is highly subjective and open to interpretation and could just as easily be applied to prisons as well. And at the time it was implemented, most nations who signed it had the had the death penalty and continued to use it long after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved by them. So obviously, the signers back then had the moral coherence to appreciate the distinction between murders and executions. What the DP is, is a punishment for a human rights violation, not a human rights violation itself. Anyone with any amount of moral judgment and coherence would recognize and respect that difference. All abolitionists are trying to do is protect human rights violators at the expense of their victims by trying to pass off the just punishment of human rights violations as a human rights violation itself, an analysis that one would have to be totally lacking in sound moral judgement to accept since it is so obviously contradictory as well as morally and logically skewed. European elites enjoy showcasing their opposition to the death penalty as a progressive policy based on the respect of human rights. However, the moral basis of European opposition to the death penalty is riddled with contradictions, especially when viewed in the context of Europe's progressive euthanasia policies or dismal record on human rights on their own continent (reference their indifference to the Balkans). Such large contradictions usually suggest there are other motives. Germany, along with France, has long led the anti-death penalty charge in Europe. The mayor of Paris took this viewpoint to such an extreme position that he named a city street after convicted American cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. So it came as little surprise when a Washington Post article revealed on June 4, 2005 that the true basis for Germany's strong anti-death penalty policy was not based on morals or a sense of humanity. Instead, it was based on protecting convicted Nazi war criminals: Contrasting their nation's policy with that of the Americans, Germans point proudly to Article 102 of their Basic Law, adopted in 1949. It reads, simply: "The death penalty is abolished." They often say that this 56-year-old provision shows how thoroughly the postwar Federal Republic has learned -- and applied -- the lessons of Nazi state-sponsored killing as though having the death penalty for murderers was the sole cause of Hitler's rise to power and the genocide that followed. (Communist East Germany kept the death penalty until 1987.) But the actual history of the German death penalty ban casts this claim in a different light. Article 102 was in fact the brainchild of a right-wing politician who sympathized with convicted Nazi war criminals -- and sought to prevent their execution by British and American occupation authorities. Far from intending to repudiate the barbarism of Hitler, the author of Article 102 wanted to make a statement about the supposed excesses of Allied victors' justice. Joshua Micah Marshall, the Washington editor of The American Prospect, wrote an article accurately describing the state of affairs in Europe concerning the death penalty, paraphrased below: It's true that every industrialized nation, save Japan and the US, have abolished capital punishment, but the reason isn't as death-penalty opponents usually assume, that their populations eschew the death penalty. In fact, opinion polls show that Europeans and Canadians want executions almost as much as their American counterparts do. It's just that their politicians don't listen to them. In other words, if these countries' political cultures are less pro death penalty that America's, it's because they're less democratic. Seen through American eyes, Canada seems almost totally nonviolent. And it's true that Ottawa administered its last execution in 1962 and formally abolished capital punishment for civilians in the mid-'70s (a ban on military executions came in 1998). But public support for the death penalty runs only slightly lower in Canada than in the United States: polls consistently show that between 60 percent and 70 percent of Canadians want it reinstated. Differences in the way survey questions are framed complicate direct comparisons with Europe. (European polls sometimes pose the question in terms of the death penalty for terrorism, for genocide, for depraved sexual crimes, and so forth.) But, even if you ask the death-penalty question in the more straight forward sense--"Do you support the death penalty for aggravated murder?"--you find very few European countries where the public clearly opposes it, and there are a number where support is very strong. In Britain, the world headquarters of Amnesty International, opinion polls have shown that between two-thirds and three-quarters of the population favors the death penalty--about the same as in the United States. In Italy, which has led the international fight against capital punishment recently, roughly half the population wants it reinstated. In France, clear majorities continued to back the death penalty long after it was abolished in 1981. There is barely a country in Europe where the death penalty was abolished in response to public opinion rather than in spite of it. How could this be? In a few cases, the reason is constitutional: Germany's and Italy's postwar constitutions abolished capital punishment outright, thus placing the issue effectively beyond public reach. Another factor is the centripetal pressure created by European integration, as cornerstone EU states like France and Germany force smaller newcomers to adopt "European" standards, like abolishing the death penalty. In other words, the newcomers succumb to political and economic blackmail when they join the EU. Differences between European parliamentary government and the American separation-ofpowers system also play a role. Parliamentary government may provide voters with more ideological variety, but it is much more resistant to political newcomers and fresh ideals which may support different political views. In parliamentary systems, people tend to vote for parties, not individuals; and party committees choose which candidates stand for election. As a result, parties are less influenced by the will of the people. In countries like Britain and France, so long as elite opinion remains sufficiently united (which, in the case of the death penalty, it has), public support cannot translate into legislative action. Since American candidates are largely independent and self-selected, they serve as a much more direct conduit between public opinion and actual political action. Basically, then, Europe doesn't have the death penalty because its political systems are less democratic, or at least more insulated from public opinion, than the U.S. government. And elites know it. Referring to France, a recent article in the UNESCO Courier noted that "action by courageous political leaders has been needed to overcome local public opinion that has remained mostly in favour of the death penalty." When a 1997 poll showed that 49 percent of Swedes wanted the death penalty reinstated, the country's justice minister told a reporter: "They don't really want the death penalty; they are objecting to the increasing violence. I see this as a call to politicians and the justice system to do more." An American attorney general--or any American politician, for that matter--could never get away with such condescension toward the public, at least not for attribution. Pundits and rival politicians would slam him, and, on most issues, liberals would be first in line. After all, liberals are attached to the idea that they speak for the "little guy," the "working family," or, in Al Gore's recent phraseology, "the people, not the powerful." But, all over the industrialized world, it turns out that most people favor the death penalty. It's just that in Europe and Canada elites have exercised a kind of noblesse oblige. They've chosen a more oligarchical political order over a fully popular and participatory one. Few of these countries had a debate about the death penalty before banning it to satisfy the European Union, so no popular consensus was reached. Said Peter Hodgkinson, director of the Center for Capital Punishment Studies at the University of Westminster in London: What the Council of Europe did was to exercise the coercive powers they had over these young, fragile, emerging democracies who all wanted to join the big club of the Council of Europe with a view to joining the economic club of the EU in the future. They would have signed anything. Bruce Bawer, an American journalist who lives in Norway, had this to say about the attitudes of the European political elite: The European establishment's anti-Americanism, it must be remembered, is not the thoughtfully considered philosophy of a morally sensitive international power but the pathetic posturing of a tired, ailing civilization's insecure and envious leaders-bureaucratic souls who are frightened of the future and desperate for an easy scapegoat. Europe, to America, is rather like a thankless, cantankerous old mother with whom we may be exasperated but on whom we can hardly turn our back. Indeed, there are those in Europe doubt that the EU position will endure, arguing that it is more a moratorium than a permanent ban. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote in 1829: To abolish the death penalty, that's hardly sustainable. If that happens, we will call it back every now and then. Return to Contents CAPITAL PUNISHMENT VS. LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE: Abolitionists claim that there are alternatives to the death penalty. They say that life in prison without parole serves just as well. Certainly, if you ignore all the murders criminals commit within prison when they kill prison guards and other inmates, and also when they kill decent citizens upon escape, like Dawud Mu'Min who was serving a 48-year sentence for the 1973 murder of a cab driver when he escaped a road work gang and stabbed to death a storekeeper named Gadys Nopwasky in a 1988 robbery that netted $4.00. Fortunately, there is now no chance of Mu'Min commiting murder again. He was executed by the state of Virginia on November 14, 1997. Another flaw is that life imprisonment tends to deteriorate with the passing of time. Take the Moore case in New York State for example. In 1962, James Moore raped and strangled 14-year-old Pamela Moss. Her parents decided to spare Moore the death penalty on the condition that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Later on, thanks to a change in sentencing laws in 1982, James Moore is eligible for parole every two years! If Pamela's parents knew that they couldn't trust the state, Moore could have been executed long ago and they could have put the whole horrible incident behind them forever. Instead they have a nightmare to deal with biannually. I'll bet not a day goes by that they don't kick themselves for being foolish enough to trust the liberal sham that is life imprisonment and rehabilitation. (According to the US Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is five years and eleven months.) Putting a murderer away for life just isn't good enough. Laws change, so do parole boards, and people forget the past. Those are things that cause life imprisonment to weather away. As long as the murderer lives, there is always a chance, no matter how small, that he will strike again. And there are people who run the criminal justice system who are naive enough to allow him to repeat his crime. Kenneth McDuff, for instance, was convicted of the 1966 shooting deaths of two boys and the vicious rape-strangulation of their 16-year-old female companion. A Fort Worth jury ruled that McDuff should die in the electric chair, a sentence commuted to life in prison in 1972 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty as then imposed. In 1989, with Texas prisons overflowing and state officials under fire from the federal judiciary, McDuff was quietly turned loose on an unsuspecting citizenry. Within days, a naked body of a woman turned up. Prostitute Sarafia Parker, 31, had been beaten, strangled and dumped in a field near Temple. McDuff's freedom in 1989 was interrupted briefly. Jailed after a minor racial incident, he slithered through the system and was out again in 1990. In early 1991, McDuff enrolled at Texas State Technical College in Waco. Soon, Central Texas prostitutes began disappearing. One, Valencia Joshua, 22, was last seen alive Feb. 24, 1991. Her naked, decomposed body later was discovered in a shallow grave in woods behind the college. Another of the missing women, Regenia Moore, was last seen kicking and screaming in the cab of McDuff's pickup truck. During the Christmas holidays of 1991, Colleen Reed disappeared from an Austin car wash. Witnesses reported hearing a woman scream that night and seeing two men speeding away in a yellow or tan Thunderbird. Little more than two months later, on March 1, 1992, Melissa Northrup, pregnant with a third child, vanished from the Waco convenience store where she worked. McDuff's beige Thunderbird, broken down, was discovered a block from the store. Fifty-seven days later, a fisherman found the young woman's nearly nude body floating in a gravel pit in Dallas County, 90 miles north of Waco. By then, McDuff was the target of a nationwide manhunt. Just days after Mrs. Northrup's funeral, McDuff was recognized on television's "America's Most Wanted'' and arrested May 4 in Kansas City. In 1993, a Houston jury ordered him executed for the kidnap-slaying of 22-year-old Melissa Northrup, a Waco mother of two. In 1994, a Seguin jury assessed him the death penalty for the abduction-rape-murder of 28-year-old Colleen Reed, an Austin accountant. Pamplin's son Larry, the current sheriff of Falls County, appeared at McDuff's Houston trial for the 1992 abduction and murder of Melissa Northrup. "Kenneth McDuff is absolutely the most vicious and savage individual I know,'' he told reporters. "He has absolutely no conscience, and I think he enjoys killing.'' If McDuff had been executed as scheduled, he said, "no telling how many lives would have been saved.'' At least nine, probably more, Texas authorities suspect. His reign of terror finally ended on November 17, 1998 when Kenneth McDuff was put to death by the state of Texas by Lethal Injection. May his victims rest in peace. There has also been major political hay made out of a nasty scandal involving a prisoner named Willie Horton and Massachusetts' controversial "Prison Furlough Program." Massachusets governor Mike Dukakis was genuinely committed to the program, and had worked hard to bolster it, despite serious public concerns. In 1976, he'd actually vetoed legislation that would have banned furloughs for first-degree murderers, defending the practice as an essential "management tool." Thus, a decade later, in June of 1986, there was nothing in the law to deny convicted murderer Horton what was supposed to be a routine 48-hour leave. Predictably, Horton didn't play by the rules. He fled, eventually arriving in Maryland, where, in April of 1987, he had pistol-whipped and knifed Clifford Barnes, then bound and gagged him and twice raped his fiancee, Angela. When the story of the furlough became known, Horton's brutality created a public uproar. The Maryland judge who subsequently sentenced Horton to two consecutive life terms refused to extradite him to Massachusetts. "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed . . . This man should never draw a breath of free air again," said the judge. The scandal heated to a rolling boil. In April of 1988, embattled Massachusetts legislators finally killed the 16-year-old program -- without further resistance from Dukakis. Thank God! This is why for people who truly value public safety, there is no substitute for the best in its defense which is capital punishment. It not only forever bars the murderer from killing again, it also prevents parole boards and criminal rights activists from giving him the chance to repeat his crime. Return to Contents CLICHED ARGUMENTS AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: I have also heard cliched arguments about the futility of combating violence with more "violence," that you can't fight fire with fire. Now I know that there is a difference between violence and law enforcement, or punishment. Law enforcement and punishment is to crime as water is to fire, where fire-fighters spray water on a burning building with such force that the flames have no choice but to back down. But the rate that we're executing murderers is analogous to trying to quench a bonfire with an eye-dropper. Another cliched argument is the phrase: "Violence doesn't solve anything." Thus labeling capital punishment as a form of violence in order to rationalize that short-sighted clich that has no foundation in the real world. I like the way a quote from Robert A. Heinlien's Starship Troopers puts it: "The idea that "violence doesn't solve anything" is a historically untrue and immoral doctrine. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. People that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms." Another cliched argument is the question: "Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong?" That two wrongs do not make a right, therefore, executions are equivalent to murder. First of all, the term murder is specifically defined in any dictionary as the UNLAWFUL killing of a person with malice and aforethought. So logically, the word murder cannot be used to describe executions since the death penalty is the law. To do so is an obvious abuse of semantics. Second of all, comparing executions to murders is like comparing incarcerating people to kidnapping or charging taxes and fines to extortion. There is a difference between violent crime and punishment. Is there a contradiction in a policeman speeding after a speeder to enforce speeding laws? One displays a serious lack of moral judgment to believe that just because two practices share a physical similarity means that they are morally identical. Law enforcement officials act well within the law when they punish criminals whether it be by charging fines, incarcerating them, or conducting executions, thereby, defending public safety. Nineteenthcentury English philosopher and reformer John Stuart Mill, stated: "Does fining a criminal show want of respect for property, or imprisoning him, for personal freedom? Just as unreasonable it is to think that to take the life of a man who has taken that of another is to show want of regard for human life. We show, on the contrary...our regard for it, by the adoption of a rule that he who violates that right in another forfeits it for himself and that while no other crime that he can commit deprives him of his right to live, this shall." What separates crime from punishment, good from evil are not their physical aspects but rather their moral aspects. And moral aspects examine the reasons and motivations behind one's actions. Abolitionists tend to focus on the death penalty's physical aspects to demonstrate that it is the same as murder while completely ignoring its moral aspects involved, therefore, demonstrating their total lack of moral coherence. Still another cliched argument abolitionists use is that we should value ALL human life, even the most violent and despicable ones. That philosophy indicates that there is nothing more to humanity than the physical traits that identify our species. I say they are wrong. There is an entire spiritual aspect to humanity that they tend to completely ignore. Anybody can be physically human. All that is, is an accident of genetics. It is the spiritual aspects of humanity that actually define who and what we are. Moral assesments are based on one's acts and character, not on his race or species, the latter which abolitionists often use as an excuse to canonize murderers. Allowing one's species to hold more weight than his character is the foundation of racism. When a culture develops the moral coherence to recognize humanity as more a spiritual thing than just some physical thing, they will have no excuse to allow, tolerate, or preserve evil and barbarism just because it hides inside a physical human shell. Syndicated columnist Charley Reese made an interesting analogy while criticizing the way abolitionists typically behave when he wrote: When I think of all the sweet, innocent people who suffer extreme pain and who die every day in this country, then the outpouring of sympathy for cold-blooded killers enrages me. Where is your (expletive deleted) sympathy for the good, the kind and the innocent? This fixation on murderers is a sickness, a putrefaction of the soul. It's the equivalent of someone spending all day mooning and cooing over a handful of human feces. Sick and abnormal. Personally, I think abolitionists have a lot of gall claiming that they are motivated to oppose the death penalty by their "reverence for human life" when the only people that they are interested in preserving are those who display the least of it...the very least reverence for human life. And a final and perhaps most sophomoric cliched argument is that executing a murderer won't bring back his victim. (They never explain how putting murderers in prison is any more capable of such a miracle.) That is not the point of executions and it never was. Justice is not about bringing back the dead. It is not about revenge either. Justice is about enforcing consequences for one's own actions to endorse personal responsibility. We cannot expect anyone to take responsibility for their own actions if these consequences are not enforced in full. Return to Contents RACISM AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: There are those that state that capital punishment is unfair to people of other races, classes, or mental abilities. I say that these aspects are not an issue. Murder has no color, class, or IQ A murderer is a murderer. When a loved one is killed, I doubt anyone could take comfort in the fact that the perpetrator had a low IQ, was black instead of white, or poor instead of rich. Ernest van den Haag wrote: "If and when discrimination occurs it should be corrected. Not, however, by letting the guilty blacks escape the death penalty because guilty whites do, but by making sure that the guilty white offenders suffer it as the guilty blacks do. Discrimination must be abolished by abolishing discrimination - not by abolishing penalties. However, even if...this cannot be done, I do not see any good reason to let any guilty murderer escape his penalty. It does happen in the administration of criminal justice that one person gets away with murder and another is executed. Yet the fact that one gets away with it is no reason to let another one escape." A 1991 Rand Corporation study by Stephen Klein found that white murderers received the death penalty slightly more often (32%) than non-white murderers (27%). And while the study found murderers of white victims received the death penalty more often (32%) than murderers of nonwhite victims (23%), when controlled for variables such as severity and number of crimes committed, there is no disparity between those sentenced to death for killing white or black victims. After examining 42,500 criminal files in the nations 75 largest counties, Patrick A. Langan, senior statistician at the Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that there was no evidence "...that, in the places where blacks in the U. S. have most of their contacts with the judicial system, that (the) system treats them more harshly than whites." In a recent crime bill, the Racial Justice Act, was proposed. The act, had it been implemented, would have established a penalty-by-quota system. As a precondition for applying the death penalty, it would have required that all races be proportionally represented in the execution chamber. This practice would have allowed judgment to be made, not on the facts of a particular case, but on the facts of a defendant's race. Also, doesn't the fact that the death penalty is optional make it seem more prone to racial discrimination? It has been called racist since a prosecutor can seek a death sentence against an African-American for a capital crime but not a white person for the same offense. I never hear prisons called "racist" because they are mandatory for many crimes. If the death penalty were the same way, race would be a non-issue and the courts would be forced to concentrate only on the crime committed, as it should be. For capital punishment to be applied equally to every criminal, rich or poor, black or white, it must be mandatory for ALL capital cases. Return to Contents CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND ITS COSTS: There's a claim that it is more expensive for the state to execute a criminal than to incarcerate him for life. Many opponents present, as fact, that the cost of the death penalty is so expensive (at least $2 million per case?), that we must choose life without parole ("LWOP") at a cost of $1 million for 50 years. Predictably, these pronouncements may be entirely false. JFA (Justice for All) estimates that LWOP cases will cost $1.2 million - $3.6 million more than equivalent death penalty cases. And life without parole prisoners face, on average, 30 or 40 years in prison while the annual cost of incarceration is $40,000 to $50,000 a year for each prisoner or more! There is no question that the up front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than for equivalent LWOP cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, equivalent LWOP cases are much more expensive - from $1.2 to $3.6 million - than death penalty cases. Opponents ludicrously claim that the death penalty costs, over time, 3-10 times more than LWOP. The $34,200 is conservative, if TIME Magazine's (2/7/94) research is accurate. TIME found that, nationwide, the average cell cost is $24,000/yr. and the maximum security cell cost is $75,000/yr. (as of12/95). Opponents claim that LWOP should replace the DP. Therefore, any cost calculations should be based specifically on cell costs for criminals who have committed the exact same category of offense - in other words, cost comparisons are valid only if you compare the costs of DP-equivalent LWOP cases to the cost of DP cases. The $34,200/yr. cell cost assumes that only 20% of the DP-equivalent LWOP cases would be in maximum security cost cells and that 80% of the DP-equivalent LWOP cases would be in average cost cells. A very conservative estimate. The $60,000/yr., for those on death row, assumes that such cells will average a cost equal to 80% of the $75,000/yr. for the most expensive maximum security cells. A very high estimate. Even though we are calculating a 75% greater cell cost for the DP than for equivalent LWOP cases, equivalent LWOP cases appear to be significantly more expensive, over time, than their DP counterparts. For years, opponents have improperly compared the cost of all LWOP cases to DP cases, when only the DP equivalent LWOP cases are relevant. Annual cost increases are based upon: 1) historical increases in prison costs, including judicial decisions regarding prison conditions,and the national inflation rate; 2) medical costs, including the immense cost of geriatric care, associated with real LWOP sentences; 3) injury or death to the inmate by violence; 4) injury or death to others caused by the inmate (3 and 4 anticipate no DP and that prisoners, not fearing additional punishment, other than loss of privileges, may increase the likelihood of violence. One could make the same assumptions regarding those on death row. The difference is that death row inmates will average 6 years incarceration vs. 50 years projected for LWOP); 5) the risk and the perceived risk of escape; and 6) the justifiable lack of confidence by the populace in our legislators, governors, parole boards and judges, i.e. a violent inmate will be released upon society. $75,000 for trial and appeals cost, for DP-equivalent LWOP cases, assumes that the DP is not an option. It is believed that this cost estimate is very low. It is over-estimated that DP cases will cost twenty times more, on average, or $1.5 million. This exaggerated estimate states that the DP will have twenty times more investigation cost, defense and prosecution cost, including court time, guilt/innocence stage, sentencing stage and appellate review time and cost than DP equivalent LWOP cases. Even though abolitionists greatly have exaggerated the cost of DP cases, DP cases still prove to be significantly less expensive, over time, than the DP equivalent LWOP cases. 6 years on death row, prior to execution, reflects the new habeas corpus reform laws, at both the state and federal levels. Some anti-death penalty groups speculate that such time may actually become only 4 years. If so, then DP cases would cost even that much less than the DP equivalent LWOP cases. However, the average time on death row, for those executed from 1973-1994, was 8 years. Therefore, 6 years seems more likely. Even using the 8 year average, the DP equivalent LWOP cases are still $1 million more expensive than their DP counterparts ($2 million @ 2% annual increase). So the death penalty costs reside mainly in appeals costs. Life without parole prisoners get the same appeals and should be considered to bear the same costs. And if the death penalty is abolished, abolitionists will turn to eliminate life without parole as well and will drive the appeals costs higher than death penalty appeals since there is no execution to end the process of a life without parole prisoner. Lastly, the cost for justice does not have to be so high for the execution of murderers. If we only allowed appeals that are relevant in proving one's innocence and eliminated the many more that are used merely as delaying tactics, it would save millions in taxpayer dollars. Return to Contents THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: Abolitionists claim that the death penalty is un-constitutional by quoting the eighth amendment which forbids "cruel and unusual punishment." "Cruel and unusual" has never been defined by our founding fathers, but let's examine the issue anyway. Where does the Supreme Court stand on the "cruel and unusual" claim of the abolitionists? In several cases the Justices of the Supreme Court have held that the DP is not cruel and/or unusual , and is in fact, a Constitutionally acceptable remedy for a criminal act. In Trop v. Dulles, Chief Justice Earl Warren, no friend of the death penalty, said: "Whatever the arguments may be against capital punishment, both on moral grounds and on grounds and in terms of accomplishing the purposes of punishment.... the death penalty has been employed throughout our history, and in a day when it is still widely accepted, it cannot be said to violate the conceptional concept of cruelty". Indeed, the Supreme Court has constantly held that the death penalty in itself, as a sentence for a crime, is neither cruel or unusual. In another case of note, the court said: "The punishment of death is not cruel, within the meaning of that word as used in the Constitution. It implies there is something more inhuman and barbarous, than the mere extinguishment of life." There are those who insist that the Constitution does not support the death penalty. This is simply not true. The fifth amendment states: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. Note: "...a capital, or otherwise infamous crime... twice put in jeopardy of life or limb... ...nor be deprived of life...without due process of law..." So the constitution does allow capital punishment through indirect references such as these. Former Justice Marshall McComb of the California Supreme Court wrote in 1972: It is my opinion that the death penalty is constitutional, as innumerable cases. therefore, since it is the duty of the Legislature of the electorate, and not the judiciary, to decide whether it is sound public policy to empower the imposing of the death penalty, it is my opinion that if a change is to be made, it should be effected through the legislative process of by the people through the initiative process. US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia confirmed this analysis in 1997 when he said: "No fewer than three of the Justices with whom I have served (Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun) have maintained that the death penalty is unconstitutional, even though its use is explicitly contemplated in the Constitution. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments says that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law; and the Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment says that no person shall be held to answer for a capital crime without grand-jury indictment." Sydicated columnist Jeff Jacoby states where Constitutional law stands on this issue well when he wrote: It is up to the law to speak to them-to speak for all grief-stricken survivors confronted with the butchery of someone near and dear. Capital punishment says to them: We, the community, take your loss with the utmost seriousness. We know that you are filled with rage and pain. We know that you may cry for vengeance, may yearn to strangle the murderer with your bare hands. You are right to feel that way. But it is not for you to wreak retribution. As a decent and just society, we will do it. Fairly. After due process. In a court of law. I would imagine that the Founding Fathers could not have conceived of a world or nation without capital punishment. Indeed, in those days, there was absolutely no question of the value of public safety and personal responsibility. Had they foreseen the rise in violent crime we have had in the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s, they might have declared the death penalty in the preamble! Return to Contents THE RISK OF WRONGFUL EXECUTION OF INNOCENTS: As for the penal system accidentally executing an innocent person, I must point out that in this imperfect world, nothing that is worth having comes without risk. After all, far, far more innocent lives have been taken by convicted murderers than the supposedly 23 innocents mistakenly executed this century. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that the death penalty in this country has ever executed even ONE innocent in the past century! Also consider that thousands of American citizens are murdered each year by released and paroled criminals. These are the serious flaws in life sentences that abolitionists prefer to trivialize to nonexistence. There is no doubt whatsoever that keeping murderers alive is far, far more dangerous to innocents than putting them to death. One US Senate report stated this position this way: All that can be expected of...[human authorities] is that they take every reasonable precaution against the danger of error... If errors are...made, this is the necessary price that must be paid within a society which is made up of human beings. Also, the death penalty isn't the only institution that contain risks in exchange for social benifits. We, in fact, mindlessly use far more dangerous institutions that take the lives of innocents by the hundreds every day, like the three or four tons of lethal metal we call automobiles for example. After all, how can we accept the average 45,000 person a year death toll in this nation due to car wrecks for our personal conveniences when the slim risk of a wrongful execution is so unbearable? Following the lines of that logic, we not only would have to sacrifice our vehicles, we would have to sacrifice the personal conveniences of using electricity and fire because of the lives they have taken. We would have to go back to living in caves because of our fear of taking risks for social benefits. Indeed, we accept and use far too many devices and institutions that kill far too many hundreds of innocents each and every day to justify focusing this much paranoia on the slimmest and unlikely of risks. In fact, as far as abolitionists are concerned, anything can kill any number of innocents with absolute impunity so long as they don't harm murderers. Oregon District Attorney Josh Marquis had this to say about the effectiveness of our justice system: Even according to Barry Scheck's Innocence Project there have only been 174 DNA exonerations for ALL crimes, more than 90% of which were not murder, let alone death penalty cases. In fact, the number of inmates taken off death row specifically because DNA cleared them is....FIVE. An additional nine inmates who were once on death row were eventually fully exonerated by DNA evidence. Some might say, 14 or 140, it doesn't make a difference. That makes as much sense as being told you have a 1% mortality risk from a surgical procedure versus a 10% risk. To enjoy the privilege of using cars, airplanes, or any other device that improve the quality of our lives, we accept the risks and deaths that are caused by them completely in order to reap their full benefits. The same concept applies for the death penalty only on a far lesser scale. As long as we're entitled to recklessly endanger hundreds of innocent lives daily for our personal conveniences, then surely we should be allowed to take on lesser risks for something far less selfish and self serving like public safety. Every institution that is of great benefit to society always contain risks. The death penalty happens to be the least dangerous of them, yet it is focused on with the most paranoia. Syndicated columnist Charley Reese stated: I favor a fair trial, one quick appeal and prompt execution. I don't think murderers ought to live much beyond 12 months from the day their victim is buried...[and] As for not being able to correct a mistake, so what? Virtually all accidental deaths are deaths by mistake. Why impose a standard of perfection only on the criminal justice system? There are no perfect human institutions. Our system is, more than any other, designed to protect the rights of the defendant. The chance of a truly innocent person being executed is exceedingly slim. But if it happens, it happens just as things happen to people every day. Abolitionists like to establish the delusion that the death penalty is the only risk that exists. That's why they rarely, if ever, pay any attention to the hundreds of innocent human beings that are brutally slaughtered daily by automobiles, airplanes, fire, and electricity, let alone violent crime including repeat offences. The only time they assign the most worth and reverence to human lives is when they help rationalize their own bias like the possible victims of wrongful executions. Outside of that, innocent lives are secondary in value and expendable. For instance, abolitionists spend millions of dollars and countless man hours fighting the legal execution of dozens of our worst human rights violators per year under the guise that they are concerned about the innocents that might be executed by mistake, when they do nothing to eliminate the inhumane parole and probation release policies which result in the needless injury and slaughter of thousands of innocent people. This slaughter does not include violent crimes committed by repeat offenders who are released and who are not on "supervision". And where is the compassion in honoring the previous victims suffering and in protecting the human rights of future victims? Indeed, abolitionist actions show virtually no compassion for the victims of violent crime or concern for future victims, yet, they exhibit overwhelming support for those who violate our human rights and murder countless innocents each year. The only time assigning sanctity to innocent lives can be stomached is when they manipulate people into preserving murderers. They don't value innocent lives at all, they only refer to them to manipulate those who do. Indeed, their "regard" for innocents is nothing more than a self-righteous manipulative ploy. So don't be fooled by the guise of virtue they tend to don. Our tendency to treat enormous human death tolls as though they were less tragic than smaller ones match former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's unique, and accurate insight on human nature when he stated: "One death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are statistics." It is that short-sightedness that allows so many mass murders and genocides to take place in the world. Abolitionists keep talking about the risks of a wrongful execution in the death penalty's use. Well, being moral and just individuals, we will not avoid taking issue with that risk. However, the risks involving capital punishment is not nearly as dangerous or as insensitive to those it puts at risk as the risks that are associated with abolitionist standards. Indeed, under the liberal influences in our criminal justice system, the murder rate skyrocketed along with the number of repeat offences. But those who endorse these liberal standards never demonstrate the morality or the responsibility to take issue with these lethal flaws and work at least twice as hard to protect the innocents that are threatened by the murderers they are so dedicated to preserving. That is probably why the vast majority of people around the world favor capital punishment, because the death penalty never treats even the most hypothetical and highly unlikely of risks involved in its use with nearly as much contempt and disregard as abolitionists habitually treat countless of real life incidents as a consequence of their agenda. This is what confirms capital punishment's superior level of responsibility and morality. And what abolitionists don't realize is that they would have a far better chance of convincing the public to accept the abolition of capital punishment if they set up actual life without parole as a prerequisite to abolition in order to minimize the rising crime rates and repeat offences that tends to follow. But that will never be, because no matter what abolitionists say, their first priority is to keep murderers alive while using whatever risk the death penalty poses to innocent lives as a means to that end. So they will never commit any honest or genuine effort to actually set up alternatives to capital punishment before its abolition. They, therefore, put the public at greater risk than otherwise and sabotoge their own cause. Indeed, I can assure every abolitionist who uses this argument that there is not one retentionist out there who is not aware of the risks involved with the death penalty or the fact that he is putting his own life at risk. But they support it anyway. Why? Because we cannot find any moral justification to trivialize and subordinate the thousands of innocents that are brutally slaughtered every year due to violent crime to the slimmest risk in the world! To do so would be shortsighted and insensitive in the extreme! Anyone who cannot understand why anybody would feel compelled to subject their life to the slimmest of risks in order to combat violent crime can't be bothered by violent crime by one slightest bit or have much regard for the importance of public safety either. Return to Contents CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND CHRISTIANITY: Another weapon used to fight capital punishment is the Holy Bible, the "source of all morality." Some Christians claim that we have no right to play God by pointing out the 6th commandment in Exodus 20:13 which states: "Thou shall not kill" But if one translated directly from the original Hebrew version, it is: "Thou shall not MURDER." And murder is defined in any dictionary as the UNLAWFUL killing of a person with malice and aforethought. Many Christians would claim that Jesus changed or abolished the old law and directly opposed the death penalty when he saved a prostitute from being stoned by saying, "Let he among you who is without sin, cast the first stone." John 8:7 and when he said, "Judge not, that you be not judged." Matthew 7:1. But Jesus himself told us that He did not come to abolish or change the Law, but to fulfill the Law: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. for assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."-Matthew 5:17-19 Also, Jesus admonition "Let him without sin cast the first stone," when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) - the Mosaic Law prescribed death - should be read in its proper context. This passage is an ,,entrapment story, which sought to show Jesus wisdom in besting His adversaries, not an ethical pronouncement against capital punishment. This analysis is consistent with virtually all theological scholarship. So what has happened, is that people have taken those quotations out of context and changed their meaning to suit their own personal views. Abolitionists use what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1, "Judge not, that you be not judged" to say that the death penalty contradicts Christian values since we have to judge to sentence someone to death. But look at the whole picture of what Jesus was saying: "Judge not, that you be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" -Matthew 7:1-5 So by seeing the entire picture, we see that Jesus was speaking to the hypocrite. For example, if I steal, and I see someone else stealing, I cannot judge them for stealing. I would be a hypocrite. First, I myself must stop stealing before I could judge the other person. That is called judging fairly and not hypocritically. That is what Jesus meant when He stopped the stoning of the prostitute from an angry mob, discouraging mob rule. Therefore, Jesus left justice and retribution to the civil authorities which was named God's minister for his wrath in Romans 13:4. So Christians should adopt the habit of taking the entire scope of the Bible into account when they interpret certain passages lest they make it look like a pack of hypocritical contradictions. The Word in Life Study Bible analyzes the issue of judging this way: What was Jesus calling for when He ordered His followers to "judge not" - (Matt. 7:1)? Did He want us to close our eyes to error and evil? Did He intend that managers forgo critical performance reviews of their employees? Or that news editors and art critics pull their punches? Or that juries refrain from judgment? Should we decline any assessment of others, since none of us is perfect? No, those would all be misapplications of Jesus' teaching. He was not commanding blind acceptance, but grace toward others. Since all of us are sinners, we need to stop bothering with the failings of others and start attending to serious issues of our own (Matt. 7:3-5). His words here extend His earlier expose of Hypocrisy (Matt. 1:18). Don't blame or put down others while excusing or exalting yourself, Jesus was saying. Is there room, then, to assess others, especially when we know we are not perfect? Yes, but only is Jesus' way: with empathy and fairness (Matt. 7:12), and with a readiness to freely and fully forgive (Matt. 6:12, 14). When we are called upon to correct others, we should act like a good doctor whose purpose is to bring healing-not like an enemy who attacks. A common misinterpretation from the New Testament promoted by abolitionists is that we should love and cherish murderers, rapists, thieves, etc. because it states in Matt 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. But such an analysis is drawn from interpreting from the scriptures using a modern frame of reference. It is often forgotten that Jesus lived over 2000 years ago, when the world and the perceptions of the people who lived back then were far different than they are today. Back then, those who were considered to be the enemy and evil was the Roman Empire and its agents, namely, the tax collectors and the Roman soldiers who enforced those taxes. These tax collectors were Jews themselves. Most were corrupt and were despised as traitors to the Jewish nation. Those were the people Jesus was referring to when he spoke about "enemies" and "those who are evil." This is confirmed when we read further: For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Matt 5:46-47 So we can see that these passages were not meant to undermine the criminal justice system in Jesus's time, or ours. But once again, abolitionists have taken such quotes out of context and used them to rationalize their contempt for justice. Some religious people argue that since we cannot create human life we should not take it. If you accept the premises of religion, then not only can we not create human life, we cannot destroy it. We can only destroy the flesh that temporarily houses the immortal soul. What happens to the soul is God's business, no one else's. So I find all biblical interpretations against the death penalty to be frivolous, at best, because no where does the Bible repudiate capital punishment for murder. In fact, it is the one crime in the Bible for which no restitution is possible. (Num. 35:31, 33) Christians who oppose the death penalty in deserving cases tend to subordinate the justice of God to the love of God. But it is because humans are created in God's image that capital punishment is not only permitted by the Bible, but approved and encouraged as well. (Genesis 9:6) Paul, one of Christ's disciples, in his hearing before Festus, states: "For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying." (Acts 25:11) St. Paul confirms that the civil authority may justly execute wrongdoers for certain crimes. Christ Himself regarded capital punishment as a just penalty for murder when He said to one of his disciples after he tried to kill a soldier who had come to arrest Jesus: "...all who take the sword will perish by the sword." (Matt. 26:52) He also recognized the death penalty for people who cursed their parents. (Matt. 15:4) When Jesus faces Pontius Pilate, Pilate says to Jesus: "Do You not know that I have power to crucify You..?" Jesus replies: "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above." (John 19:10-11) Jesus reminds Pilate that the use of the death penalty is a divinely entrusted responsibility that is to be justly implemented. In Jesus Christ's crucifixion, one of the criminals crucified next to Jesus said: "...we receive the due reward of our deeds...Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." Jesus replied: "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42-43) That pardon did not extend to eliminating the consequences of his crime. There are a couple passages in Luke which speak directly on Jesus' position on the death penalty: "A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might gave him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.' But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others." -Luke 20:9-16. Jesus states in that parable that the proper punishment for murder is death. Christ also pronounced this judgment on those who rebelled against their king: "But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me." -Luke19:27 In the 19:27 parable their king is Jesus. So it is very clear that neither Christ nor His apostles intended to abrogate the God-given responsibility of the state (under Old Testament Law) to protect its citizens and enforce justice by capital punishment. And in Romans 13:3-4, St. Paul states: "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil...Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." So God has given the state the power of life and death over its subjects to maintain public safety for God established the governing authorities, and it is to them the responsibility of putting those to death who commit capital crimes. Also, it is stated in the book of Revelation, "He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." -Revelation 13:910 There is a popular saying that only God has the right to take a human life. But nowhere in the bible is this statement confirmed. Indeed, Genesis 9:6, God states: "Whoever sheds MAN'S blood, by MAN his blood shall be shed." Also, in the time when God was giving His law to Moses and His people, He said, "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death." -Exodus 21:12 "Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death." -Numbers 35:31 "So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it." -Numbers 35:33 This is religious evidence that one need not be God to exact a fitting punishment for the crime of murder. Not only that, but the Bible also condones the death penalty for rapists, (Deut. 22:25) sodomy, (Lev. 18:22, 20:13) fornication, (Lev. 21:9) (Deut. 22:21-24) perjury, (Zech. 5:4) kidnapping, (Ex.21:16, Deut. 24:7) witchcraft, (Ex. 22:18) for striking or cursing father or mother, (Ex. 21:15,17, Lev. 20:9) disobedience to parents, (Deut. 21:18-21) theft, (Zech. 5:3,4) blasphemy, (Lev. 24:11-14,16,23) sabbath desecration, (Ex. 35:2, Num. 15:32-36) propagating false doctrines, (Deut. 13:1-10) refusing to abide by the decision of court, (Deut. 17:12) even homosexuals. (Lev. 20:13) So whoever uses the Bible to condemn capital punishment risks hypocrisy. There are those who claim that capital punishment is not compatible with New Testament scripture because one cannot love your neighbor by killing them. But that view is based on the misconception that death is always associated with hostility and malevolence. That is not always the case. Death can actually be a peaceful and spiritually enlightening experience. Victims rights activist group "Justice for All" presents an excellent example of my meaning below: "The movie Dead Man Walking demonstrates a very good example of how just punishment and Jesus' message of love and redemption can work together: "Had rapist/murderer Matthew Poncelet not been properly sentenced to death by the civil authority, he would not have met Sister Prejean, he would not have taken responsibility for his crimes and he would not have reconciled with God. Had Poncelet never been caught or had he only been given a prison sentence, his character makes it very clear that those elements would not have come together. Indeed, for the entire film and up until those last moments, prior to his execution, Poncelet was not fully truthful with Sister Prejean. His lying and manipulative nature was fully exposed at that crucial time. It was not at all surprising, then, that it was just prior to his execution that all of the spiritual elements have come together for his salvation, something no prison sentence is able to do. It was now, or never. Truly, it was his pending execution which finally led to his repentance. For Christians, the most crucial concerns of Dead Man Walking must be and are redemption and eternal salvation. And, for that reason, it may well be, for Christians, the most important pro-death penalty movie ever made. "A real life example of this is the case of Dennis Gentry, executed April 16, 1997, for the premeditated murder of his friend Jimmy Don Ham. During his final statement, Gentry said, "I'd like to thank the Lord for the past 14 years (on death row) to grow as a man and mature enough to accept what's happening here tonight. to my family, I'm happy. I'm going home to Jesus." As the lethal drugs began to flow, Gentry cried out, "Sweet Jesus, here I come. Take me home. I'm going that way to see the Lord."" I agree with religious philosopher Saint Aquinas that in a religious sense, executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer: "...a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. for capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime...the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy." Indeed, the death penalty fits in very well with Christian beliefs, especially if one considers Christ's crucifixion. For man's sins were so great, that only an execution could atone for them. Just as Christ died to atone for Man's sins, so must the murderer die to atone for his, following Christ's example. Without atonement for one's sins, forgiveness and redemption look cheap and frivolous. Christ demonstrated just that when he died on the cross for us. It can be confirmed that biblical text finds that it is a violation of God's mandate not to execute murderers-and nowhere does the text contradict this finding. The statements above do not reflect any religious beliefs on my part. I'm agnostic. This is to counter the false claim that there is no Biblical support for capital punishment. Return to Contents THE MORALITY OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: On a final note, how can murder be taken seriously if the penalty isn't equally as serious? A crime, after all, is only as severe as the punishment that follows it. As Edward Koch once said: "It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life." Award-winning Chicago journalist Mike Royko strongly defended this position by stating: "When I think of the thousands of inhabitants of Death Rows in the hundreds of prisons in this country...My reaction is: What's taking us so long? Let's get that electrical current flowing. Drop those pellets [of poison gas] now! Whenever I argue this with friends who have opposite views, they say that I don't have enough regard for the most marvelous of miracles - human life. Just the opposite: It's because I have so much regard for human life that I favor capital punishment. Murder is the most terrible crime there is. Anything less than the death penalty is an insult to the victim and society. It says..that we don't value the victim's life enough to punish the killer fully." Lord Justice Denning, Master of the Rolls of the Court of Appeals in England said to the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment in 1950: "Punishment is the way in which society expresses its denunciation of wrong doing; and, in order to maintain respect for the law, it is essential that the punishment inflicted for grave crimes should adequately reflect the revulsion felt by the great majority of citizens for them. It is a mistake to consider the objects of punishments as being a deterrent or reformative or preventive and nothing else... The truth is that some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment, because the wrong doer deserves it, irrespective of whether it is a deterrent or not." In J.J. Rousseau's The Social Contract written in 1762, he says the following: Again, every rogue who criminously attacks social rights becomes, by his wrong, a rebel and a traitor to his fatherland. By contravening its laws, he ceases to be one of its citizens: he even wages war against it. In such circumstances, the State and he cannot both be saved: one or the other must perish. In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen as an enemy. The trial and judgements are proofs that he has broken the Social Contract, and so is no longer a member of the State. Over the decades, public safety has become an insignificant, meaningless thing, not worth defending anymore, and the death penalty has been persecuted for just that reason. It has become a trend for most western, industrialized nations to treat public safety as though it were a trivial privilege that they can ignore, neglect, and deny their decent, law-abiding citizens, even though it is recognized as a human right under Article 12 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 12 No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. And still, too many nations feel entitled to neglect their moral duty to defend the honor and dignity of decent, law abiding citizens from violent criminals. They no longer consider it a priority, let alone a human right. Indeed, no other time in the history of the world has public safety ever been more trivialized than it is today. But there are indications that this will change. A former prime minister of Hungary and the leader of its center-right opposition, Viktor Orban, has called on Europe to lift its ban. His announcement came after eight people were killed in a bank robbery in Hungary - and after his party lost national elections. Early in 2006, Kaczynski of Poland called for a debate on the restoration of the death penalty in his country and throughout Europe. Countries that give up this penalty award an unimaginable advantage to the criminal over his victim, the advantage of life over death," Kaczynski said in July. His coalition partner, the farright League of Polish Families, wants to change the country's penal code so that pedophiles convicted of murder would face execution. As the flagship of democracy, it is the United States responsibility to demonstrate that public safety is not some trivial privilege, but an unalienable human right for every decent citizen. Therefore, the USA should set the example that every civilized nation has a moral responsibility to defend the safety of their decent civilians at least as diligently as they defend national security with an army. As aptly pointed out by Donald Atwell Zoll, Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University: "Capital punishment ought not to be abolished solely because it is...repulsive, if infinitely less repulsive than the acts which invoke it...If we are to preserve a humane society we will have to retain sufficient strength of character and will to do the unpleasant in order that tranquillity and civility may rule comprehensively. It seems very likely that capital punishment is a...necessary, if limited, factor in that maintenance of social tranquillity and ought to be retained on this ground. To do otherwise is to indulge in the luxury of permitting a sense of false delicacy to reign over the necessity of social survival." Every country in the world is ready and willing to kill thousands, even millions of human beings in brutal, merciless ways to defend their nation from the aggression of other countries. I don't see why public safety doesn't deserve as much respect and protection as a nation's national security does. In fact, it can be reasonably argued that supporting armies and waging war is far more barbarous than the death penalty is. So I find it hypocritical that the same countries who have abolished capital punishment because it is "barbaric" to defend public safety that way are at the same time prepared to enforce political power and defend their territorial claims through infinitely more violence and bloodshed than the death penalty would ever require. It seems to me that those nations are just trying to rationalize their apathy and scorn for any institution that doesn't serve their self-serving and political interests. Even famed Russian author of "War and Peace" and pacifist Leo Tolstoy referred to capital punishment's morality to criticize warfare when he said: "For the executioner only holds himself in readiness to kill those who have been adjudged to be harmful and criminal, while a soldier promises to kill all who he is told to kill, even though they may be the dearest to him or the best of men." The whole reason why nations and governments exist is to defend their decent citizens from vicious criminals. When it fails to do that, they become of little use to its citizens. When a society ignores their moral duty to defend the safety and security of their decent citizens and leaves them at the mercy of violent criminals, they are not being "civilized," they are being negligent. I am certain that there will come a time when all the nations in the world will be forced to agree after decades of experience on this issue, that capital punishment, like the military and the police force and taxes, is an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of every civilized society and it will no longer be a question of whether or not a nation should have the death penalty, but rather how it should be used. While I believe that prompt and consistent executions would have a deterrent effect, there remains one great virtue, even for infrequent executions. The recidivism rate for capital punishment is zero. No executed murderer has ever killed again. You can't say that about those sentenced to prison, even if you are an abolitionist. Return to Contents BIBLIOGRAPHY: Robert Tanner, "Studies Claim Death Penalty is a Deterrent" Democrat and Chronicle, June 12, 2007 Shelly Klien, "The Most Evil Secret Societies in History" Michael O'Mara Books Limited 2005 Bruce Bauer, "While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West From Within." Doubleday, 2006 JoAnn Brenn Guernsey, "Should We Have Capital Punishment?" Minnisota: Lerner Publications Company, 1993 Diane P. Robertson, "Tears from Heaven Voices from Hell: The Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty As Seen Through the Eyes of the Victims of Violent Crime and Death Row inmates" Writers Club Press, March 2002 Stuart Banner, "The Death Penalty: An American History" Harvard Univ Pr, March 2002 Hugo Adam Bedau, ed. "The Death Penalty in America: Current Controversies" Oxford University Press: Reprint edition, April 1998 Barry Latzer, "Death Penalty Cases: Leading U.S. Supreme Court Cases on Capital Punishment" Butterworth-Heinemann, December 1997 Louis P. Pojman & Jeffrey Reiman, "The Death Penalty" Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, January 1998 Justice for all. "Death Penalty and Sentencing Information in the United States." Internet Various Newspaper Articles. Tons of Internet Resources (see links below.) Return to Contents DEATH PENALTY RELATED SITES: Death Penalty and Sentencing Information in the United States. - a site by JFA (Justice for All) which endorses capital punishment. A MUST SEE for all who are researching the death penalty. What the Bible Says About Capital Punishment. -For those seeking information about the death penalty from Biblical text. The Death Penalty - a Defense. -In the year 1998 a book which defends the Death Penalty was published in Sweden by the author David Anderson. In the year 2001 that book was published in English on this website in a revised and improved form. Simply click on the British flag for the English version. CHRISTIANS AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT -An article citing many quotes from the scripture, both old and new, supporting capital punishment. TENNESSEE'S DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM -An article examining the Tennessee governor's decision to place a moratorium on executions. The Anti-DP Movement Has Failed -By Andrew Hammel, defence attorney, in which he examines the flaws and failures in the abolitionist movement. Josh Marquis Blogspot -A website of an Oregon prosecuter who examines the death penalty in a favorable light. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights -adopted in 1948 as a pledge among nations to promote fundamental rights as the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. I challenge anyone to point out to me exactly where the death penalty is specifically condemned as a human rights violation in that declaration! The Death Penalty: A Message From the Prosecuting Attorney -a pro death penalty webpage that is packed with links both pro and con. JUSTICE FOR POLICE OFFICER DANIEL FAULKNER! -Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner Murdered by Mumia Abu-Jamal December 9, 1981. Come see the site that sets the record straight about this case. Death Penalty News and Updates -the latest in execution news across the country and the world. Before the Needle! -a detailed State by State listing of 14,490 executions that occurred under civil authority in the United States or within territory that later became the United States. From George Kendal being shot for espionage in Virginia (1608) until Gary Gilmore met his maker for murder in Utah (1977), it includes (when known) the convict's name, age, race, sex, occupation, crime, date of execution, method of execution and whether it was a single or multiple execution. Return to Contents CONTACT INFORMATION: Send questions, comments, or hate mail to: Content Last Updated: [02/16/08]. Return to Contents 1996-2008 by Wesley Lowe. All rights reserved. ... View Full Document

End of Preview

Sign up now to access the rest of the document