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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Debating The Death Penalty

The "death chamber" at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit in Huntsville, Texas, is pictured in February 2000. (Paul Buck/AFP/Getty Images)

The “death chamber” at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit in Huntsville, Texas, is pictured in February 2000. (Paul Buck/AFP/Getty Images)

On July 2, 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty. A year later, convicted murderer Gary Gilmore was executed by a firing squad in Utah. That same year, 1977, Oklahoma became the first state to approve lethal injection as a means of implementing the death penalty. It was in that state in April that an execution by lethal injection was botched.

There are some people who kill so viciously, with an attitude that is so callous, so cruel, so wanton, that they simply deserve to die.
– Robert Blecker

Today, we open a conversation about capital punishment with a supporter of the death penalty who believes it is the appropriate punishment for people convicted of heinous crimes, and it should be used even if there is a risk that someone who might actually be innocent is executed.

Robert Blecker, a professor of criminal law at New York Law School and the author of “The Death of Punishment: Searching for Justice among the Worst of the Worst,” tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson “there are some people who kill so viciously, with an attitude that is so callous, so cruel, so wanton, that they simply deserve to die.”

On Thursday’s show, we will speak with a death penalty opponent, Kirk Bloodsworth. He was convicted in the brutal murder of a 9-year-old girl and sentenced to death. He served nearly nine years in prison but he was later exonerated because of DNA evidence in 1993.

“You know honestly sitting there all those years, eight years, 10 months and 19 days,” he said. “I have to tell you we can get it wrong and we have many times.”


  • Robert Blecker, professor of criminal law at New York Law School and the author of “The Death of Punishment.” He tweets @RobertBlecker.

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  • Claudio Giusti

    death penalty is a “privilege” of the poor, because “capital
    punishment means that those without the capital get the punishment.

    • dudleysharp

      Is There Class Disparity with Executions?

      “99.8% of poor murderers have avoided execution.

      It may be, solely, dependent upon the definition of “wealthy”, as to whether wealthy murderers are any more or less likely to be executed, based upon the very small number and percentage of capital murders that are committed by the wealthy, as compared to the poor”

      • Claudio Giusti

        Capital punishment is a human sacrifice. Only a little part of the murderers are condemned to death and a lesser part of them are actually executed. This human sacrifice costs tens billion dollars.

  • johnhaskell

    Wow. Those who oppose the death penalty are ignorant. That’s a bold and brash statement. Perhaps the gentleman could explain to listeners the other three purposes of punishment aside from retribution, which he is clearly a believer in.

    • Rusty

      Please itemize what the other three purposes of punishment are. The rest of us don’t know either – thanks

      • johnhaskell

        Retribution, rehabilitation, incapacitation, and deterrence.

    • dudleysharp

      deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation.

  • johnhaskell

    The problem is not the standard of proof for death eligible defendants. There are problems with the unethical actions of prosecutors, police, investigators, forensics labs, etc., and while those problems exist in non-death penalty cases, the problem is you cannot un-ring the bell vis-a-vis the death penalty.

    Moreover, the guest speaks of being not 100% of whether we have executed an innocent person. That’s kind of the point; it’s not whether a particular crime warrants the death penalty, but it’s the certainty that a person committed the crime.

    • Rick

      This argument always seemed rather lame to me. It’s not like people are executed the same day of their concoction. Most of them sit on death row for DECADES! And they have many opportunities to appeal their case. If someone is wrongly convicted but doesn’t get the death penalty, isn’t it still a huge injustice to let them rot away in prison for the rest of their lives? At least the people on death row usually have lawyers and others trying to prove their “innocence”. People serving life in prison get much less attention.

      • johnhaskell

        “If someone is wrongly convicted but doesn’t get the death penalty,
        isn’t it still a huge injustice to let them rot away in prison for the
        rest of their lives?”

        Yes, it is an injustice, but that injustice can be more easily remedied than if someone is wrongly executed. That’s the point; what remedy does a person wrongly executed person have? None.

        “This argument always seemed rather lame to me. It’s not like people are
        executed the same day of their concoction. Most of them sit on death
        row for DECADES!”

        And it’s not like the appeals process is infallible. Moreover, at the appeals level(s) the guilt/innocence and factual evidence is not at issue but rather a mistake of law.

        • dudleysharp

          5000 die in US custody every year. How many were innocent? Should we do away with custody?

          On averagae, we execute 33 per year.

          The overwhelming errors are the innocents murdered and harmed by known criminals.

          Whle we have no proof of an innocent executed in the modern era, from 14,000 – 28,000 innocents have been murdered by those murderers we know to have murdered, before, — recidivist murderers, just since 1973.

          Up to 200,000 innocents have been murdered by known criminals that we did not manage properly, also since 1973.


          The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter?
          A Review of All Innocence Issues

  • Rick

    Gee, really hard to yell which side of this issue Jeremy is on (sarcasm).

    There are a few things your guest didn’t mention. I personally know of a case where a guy kidnapped, raped, and killed a child. There was a lot of evidence against him (including a confession to a relative). He took a plea bargain and got life in prison with no parole. Had that not been an option, he probably would have taken it to trial and possibly got off because of a rogue juror or pieces of evidence being excluded for absurd reasons. So the possibility of the death penalty was very important in this case because it provided an incentive for this guy to plead guilty and skip the trial in exchange for life in prison instead of the death penalty.

    • S David H de Lorge

      When Jeremy does an interview, should he dig into the representations of the interviewee? If he asks primarily agreeable questions, is he being a good journalist? If his interviewee were a death penalty abolitionist, would you truly be surprised if he asked something like, “but but death penalty supporters say your argument fails blah blah blah…”?

      Is it his job to help the interviewee make his case, or is it his job, as a journalist, to inquire into the unclear areas and raise the questions which are known to exist in society?

      Now ask me again next time he or one of the others annoys me.

  • ARG

    Don’t know where to start with this guy. Decades of wrongful incarceration followed by execution of an innocent person is a nightmare and unacceptable travesty that can’t be equated to the “risk” of a truck jumping the curb and killing someone. Also, we send people to prison AS punishment (loss of liberty), not FOR more punishment – that’s the idea anyway. I shudder to think what he has in mind.

    • Rick

      Well, taking away cable TV would be a good place to start.

    • dudleysharp

      Limiting movie privileges, doing away with basketball, baseball, etc.

      Just give them a prison cell and the most bland of foods.

  • saleav

    Mr. Blecker clearly has a direct line to God. His list of those who unquestionably deserve to die for their crimes was so stark — biblical is the word which occurs. Although he mentioned those few cases at the fuzzy margins, one felt that, were he in charge, a quick and efficient sorting would be done. I liked also his specific descriptions of those who surely didn’t deserve to be offed by the State. Mr. Blocker’s analogy (between the risks of his taking a walk down Broadway with the grand kids, and of a civil society executing its malfunctioning citizens — a vanishing few of which may be innocent –but hey!), did not make me wonder if Mr. Blecker might profess philosophy or ethics, along with criminal law. He should talk with God about some better stories to illustrate his arguments. The Old Testament has lots.

    • colorblue

      The advance of civilization is, in large part, based on the principle of keeping one’s concept of “God” from secular, civil law. One’s concept of “God” is necessarily in the mind of the beholder and, therefore, makes any action based on that concept arbitrary and whimsical. Once the “God’s law” path is opened then it becomes a sectarian battle between a biblical law, sharia law, halakhah law and, who knows, Druidic law, for that matter. Those that want to impose “God’s law” are certainly among the “malfunctioning citizens” who don’t care about social justice.

      • saleav

        Of course you are right. And, to be fair, Mr. Blecker never invoked any god, as far as I know. He did, to my ear, speak with an uncomfortably god-like certainty about whom should be spared and whom put to death.

        • dudleysharp

          Just giving his opinion.

    • dudleysharp

      He has studied and considered both philosophy and ethics, extensively. Short interviews only go so far.

      Read his book.

  • soundfriend

    Thank you Professor Blecker.

  • David Green

    The death penalty isn’t a deterrent to crime. To my mind, it isn’t meant to be. ..But one thing is certain : The person eliminated from society will never kill again.

    • dudleysharp


      OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
      99.7% of murderers tell us “Give me life, not execution”

      • Amos Kissel

        So they weren’t detered then if they alteady murdered

        • dudleysharp

          Of course. Not the point. You have to read it.

          If 99.7% of death eligible murderers do all they can to avoid execution, is it likely that potential murderers fear execution more than life? Of course.

          What we fear more deters more. What we prefer more deters less.

          Overwhelmomingly, folks prefer life over death and fear death more than life.

          • Amos Kissel

            True indeed, however I doubt that the consequences are considered as often as you think they are. Most criminals are acting out of desperation or frustration and not thinking about whether the State they are in will give them death or “only” life in prison.

          • dudleysharp

            It is both conscious and subconscious. Criminals weigh probabilities.

            My guess it that because of cirmcumstances, criminals are likely to not commit crimes 90% of the time they consider it, simply because of lighting, witnesses, cameras, etc., or just a feeling that it would not be the right moment to act.

            Based upon the recent studies, the highest calculation of death penalty deterrence is 5% of the murder rate, a very low percentage, but a huge saving in innocent life – about 900/yr based upon an 18,000 murders/yr since 1973.

          • Amos Kissel

            I would counter that life in prison is just as effective a deterrent as is capitol punishment. Life with possibility of parole as reward for plea deal. Data supports this also but because we cannot randomly assign laws we will never know what causes murder detterance more or less. All we have is correlational data.

          • dudleysharp

            Both reason and history disagree with you.

            Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.

            What we fear more, deters more. What we prefer more deters less.

            It’s a truism.

            OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
            99.7% of murderers tell us “Give me life, not execution”

          • Amos Kissel

            So why not advocate to bring back torture if all you care about is deterring crime? Heck, why not advocate for capitaly punishing criminals parents, children etc. History and reason agree with that also. What we fear more deters more. Being amoral is why. Evolution of morality can be shown to have come a long way but there is aleays room for improvement.

          • dudleysharp


            As I have stated, repeatedly, justice is the primary reason for sanction.

            Justice requires a sanction not less than, nor more than deserved.

            Deterrence, as well as the other beneficial aspects and outcomes of sanction, are very important but secondary to justice.

            Torture is unneeded and unwanted.

            Obvioulsy, punishing relatives of criminals, only because they are relatives, would be the intentional punishing of the innocent. I can’t imagine why you would make such a ridiculous suggestion. Do better.

          • Amos Kissel

            Justice does require sanctions. The example set by these sanctions influence a society. When you say the sanctions should not be less than, or more than deserved, in regard to the death penalty, you are advocating that retribution is key to serve justice. This is a bad example for the state to give. Often it serves justice best to use the least amount of sanctions necessary to protect society. If we encourage retribution through the death penalty, we affirm the importance of retribution to justice. By affirming that retribution is acceptable we can expect more to follow our example. Torture was an acceptable sanction in the past, and arguable it is not less than, or more than deserved by some. You will find that support for torture is extremely low. This is because torture is not a value society accepts anymore, except for a few extremists, some of whom commented above.

          • dudleysharp

            What standard but just retribution would you use?

            Any other standard but a sanction no more nor less than deserved would be unjust.

            I have never menationed torture, because that has never been what I was talking about.

            Even anti death penalty folks are now saying that LWOP is a worse sanction than execution and not even that dishonest group is comparing LWOP to torture.You are only presenting a canard because you don’t seem to be able to get anything right on the death penalty and you are just grasping at very bad straws.

          • Amos Kissel

            Logic and the socratic methed are not bad straws. They are tools used to show that data can be manipulated, prejudice exists, and they lead to a deeper understanding of both sides of an issue. What scota or other folks are saying is irrelevant if it can not illuminate the faults of our beliefs. Try harder.

          • Amos Kissel

            Interesting how you use the data that “99.7% of murderers say give me life not death,” and “most anti-death folks are saying that lwop is worse than execution.” What position are you supporting?

          • dudleysharp

            Pretty obvious.

            Murderers have made their choice very well known. The death penalty is much worse.

            And, no suprise, the anti death penalty folks are just lying, again, as part of their strategy.

            Samoe ole, same ole.

  • Mary

    Did I just hear Robert Blecker say that he doesn’t know anyone in recent memory who was wrongfully executed? What about Todd Willingham in Texas in 2004.
    Just one is too many.

    • dudleysharp

      He knows the case well.

      See Willingham within:

      The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

      • Claudio Giusti

        DS will walk on fire to demonstrate nobody was killed innocent

        • dudleysharp

          The murder of innocents is why we have the death penalty. I make the point all the time.

          You are being dishonest, here, again. I have always conceded that innocents have been executed and have never stated (nor thought) any belief that such has not occurred.

          Your being constantly factually in error has now combined with your dishonesty.

          Do better.

          • Claudio Giusti

            Stronzate! Americans do not kill innocent people? Nobody can believe such a stupid thing. Americans do not investigate possible executions of innocent people like Cameron Todd Willingham. Britons, without death penalty, do. Dishonesty is on your side.

          • dudleysharp

            No. The facts are on my side, none supporting your claim.

            I never stated what you said. You simply made up the opposite of my point.

            You really need to be more honest. Please.

          • Claudio Giusti

            The facts what???? Chutzpa!!!!

            The deterrence effect of the death penalty is a forgery. The facts are all against it.

            The human and monetary cost of capital punishment is atrocious. In 40 years America spent billion dollars in it.

            The only rationale for killing people is the political career of

          • dudleysharp


            The facts are the opposite of your presentation. You have no facts and no evidence for your position.

            I have both facts and evidence to defend that the death penalty deters (1).

            All prospects of a negative outcome deter some.

            It is a truism (1)

            The evidence that the death penalty deters some is overwhelming (1)

            The evidence that the death penalty deters none does not exist (1)

            I have never known you to fact check anything. If you wish to have confirmable facts, it is time for you to start.

            Here ya go:

            Saving Costs with The Death Penalty

            The rational for executing murderers is justice, as with all sanctions.

            Political carreer? Really? 99.9% of prosecutors retire, as proseutors, with no further politcal ambition. Very few of them ever prosecute a death penalty case. Can you show that any more than 0.01% of politicians were only successful because of their death penalty support? Of course not.

            As usual, the anti death penalty positions are either opposite the facts or they have no evidence.

            1) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter?
            A Review of All Innocence Issues

          • Jazzycat

            Sorry, what a load!

            The evidence is that it does not deter most, as most are not in their right mind when they kill.

            i.g. people with brain damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain; people who who biochemical changes associated with child abuse.

            and as i’m sure you are aware, every serial killer studied to date has one thing in common: child abuse.

            so Draconian thinking aside, the neurosciences are a better way to go.

          • Claudio Giusti

            Your ignorance of the death penalty facts is embarrassing.

            Death penalty
            has a deterrent effect??? Only in America, not in Italy, UK, Canada, etc. Possibly
            in US you torture facts until they give the answer you need.



            Quite a lot
            of American politicians used death penalty as an electoral tool: Clinton, Bush,
            Gore …

            people were and are executed everywhere, but not in America. Very stupid thing
            to say. Simply you do not investigate cases like Cameron Todd Willingham. You
            are too afraid of truth and capital punishment is still arbitrary and
            capricious as always.

          • dudleysharp

            All sanctions deter, everywhere.

            “Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown”, A Collection of Articles

            The state of the forensics in the Cameron Todd Willingham case is this:

            1) Of all of the forensics reports, that I have read, which find fault with the arson findings, none exclude arson. They conclude that the fire could be either arson or an accident.

            2) Other reports continue to find for arson.

            Other, non fire forensic, evidence against Todd Willingham not only continues to find for guilt but there is, now, more and stronger evidence against him.

            Expert witnesses:

            We have all seen where there are equally qualified experts in a trial that have opinions that are complete opposites. In some cases, there can be credible disagreement. In others, we respond with a deserved cynicism,

            With the Willingham fire, no credible person has denied that the fire could be arson.

            Dr. Hurst demurred. “I never had a case where I could exclude arson,” he said. “It’s not possible to do that.”(a)

            Sadly, but in character (b), Barry Scheck and the Innocent Project have stated, flatly, that it wasn’t arson and that Willingham was an innocent executed (c) All that Scheck and the IP are doing is injuring the credibility of forensic science. Evidently, for them, the find their agenda worth it. Former Texas Governor Mark White, now an anti death penalty activist, appears headed down this path, as well.

            (a) “Family’s Effort to Clear Name Frames Debate on Executions”, John Schwartz, New York Times, October 14, 2010,


            (b) The Innocence Project Invents False Confessions

            (c) New Report Shows that Cameron Todd Willingham, Executed in Texas in 2004, Was Innocent, NEWS RELEASE, Innocence Project, 8/31/09

          • Claudio Giusti

            NO ARSON, NO CRIME.

          • dudleysharp

            Obvioulsy, as usual, you don’t read the data.

            Arson can never be excluded.

          • Claudio Giusti

            In doubt he was killed

          • Claudio Giusti

            Had CTW alive he should be free,

          • Claudio Giusti

            As I Always say: Stronzate!

  • Sean S Rasmussen

    My husband is doing a 22 year sentence in Elton Federal Prison. He was caught selling Meth. He is doing more time for a non violent crime than many people do for violent crimes. The system is broken beyond repair. There is very little Justice in America anymore, in large part to the DEA and the War on Drugs. The prison he is in is a very punishing place. I wonder if Robert Blecker can help with this travesty of a case. My husband has only been in prison for 2 years and still has 20 to go. He couldnt be a sweeter man. If Mr Blecker feels as strongly as he said on air about non violent crimes, then i ask him please help. His name is Willard Macallaster, his inmate number is 23520086. You can also contact me on facebook.

  • Amos Kissel

    Punishment is a key concept in capital punishment. Many would prefer rehabilitation be the focus. Many crimes, even the most disturbing ones, are commited by offenders who havebrain abnormalities, mental illness, childhoods where abuse is the norm, etc. People can change! We are all in a constant state of becoming. No one is the same person today that they were last year. Life in prison offers a future of value that everyone deserves, while capital punishment is a derogatory attempt to force someones past onto their future in a permanant life ending way.

  • mckemper

    Mr. Blecker, you’ll know them by the company they keep;

    Countries with the Most Confirmed Executions in 20131. China (1,000s *see above)4. Saudi Arabia (79+)2. Iran (369+)5. United States (39)3. Iraq (169+)6. Somalia (34+)

    • dudleysharp

      Just as some of the countries without the death penalty are truly nasty.

      Does that, somehow, morally equate all non death penalty countries?

      Of course not. Think!

      • mckemper

        You evidently are not taking your own advice.

        • dudleysharp

          Please, detail.

  • tasteless chap

    It really seemed like Mr Blecker was advocating torture! If prison is merely for safety of the public, the prisoners, and the staff and not about punishing, then his advice in that regard sounded a lot like we should be torturing hardcore prisoners. His thinking seemed to boil down to: either torture them, or kill them.


    • dudleysharp

      He is advocating punishment, without all of the privilages currently pleasing the worst of violent criminals. A prison cell and the most bland of all foods. That’s it.

      • tasteless chap

        No….. the punishment that he mentioned did not sounds like a minimalist cell with no amenities. He alluded to hard labor and other punishments.

        • dudleysharp

          He includes all of those in his book.

  • tasteless chap

    Mr. Blecker also stated that there is “infinitesimal risk” to putting an innocent person to death, therefore it is worth it to have the death penalty. So then, the 317 people that have been freed thanks to the work of the Innocence Project and other attorney/investigators, are “infinitesimal”?!

    Please go look each of those 317 in the eyes and tell each of them that it was worth it nearly killing them so that we can have the ability to kill other people that we deem to be worthy of killing…..just like we “mistakenly” deemed you to be!

    Please go and do that. Then get back to us.

    • dudleysharp

      Those 317 are DNA cases released from the entire prion system, not death row.

      9 inmates were released from death row based upon DNA exclusion.

      • tasteless chap

        And the lives of those 9 are worth ending because some people are just so rotten that we “need” to kill them?! Would you volunteer to be one of those 9?

        “We” kill people to stop the killing. Logic, anyone?!

        • dudleysharp

          Thos 9 were released, not executed.

          We execute murderers as a matter of justice.

          Deterrence and incapacitation do help to reduce murders and is a relized benefit of that justice

          • Claudio Giusti

            they kill some wretch randomly choose

          • dudleysharp

            As a rule, we execute murderers, specifically chosen for their wrongful acts.

            Please review. Facts matter.


          • Claudio Giusti

            STRONZATE !!!!! Death penalty is arbitrary and capricious as it was at Furman times.

          • tasteless chap

            Those 9 were lucky enough to escape execution due to the diligence of a group of lawyers and investigators. Were it not for that diligence, they too would have been put to death for a crime(s) they did not commit. Imagine how many there were that had neither the team nor the technology to prove their innocence. Of course that number is unknowable, but I feel extremely secure in guessing that it wasn’t zero.

            Yes, we do execute murderers as a matter of justice. But sometimes that person that we’ve labeled as “murderer” didn’t actually murder. Once we kill him for that murder, we are no better than the criminal we assumed him to be. Because at that moment, We have taken an innocent life.

            I’m sorry that that doesn’t bother you.

          • dudleysharp

            Both morally and logically, you are in error.

            First, the 9 exonerated via DNA, was by the normal appellate process, which for death row, is super due process.

            Secondly, the willful and vile taking of an innocent life by a murderers is very different that the accidental and unintended execution of an innocent person. One is a vile crime, the other a tragic error.

            There is a huge difference between the murderer and the state, here.

          • tasteless chap

            The result is the same. We just want to elevate and absolve ourselves by calling it a “tragic error” rather than the murder of an innocent person by We The People.

            Those 9 had to fight repeatedly to be heard, and were LUCKY that someone outside the judicial/punishment system was listening to them. That “super due process” as you call it was a series of hurdles that the death-row inmate had to navigate with the help and guidance of an expensive cadre of attorneys. If we are to have the death penalty as a form of “punishment,” then we must supply every death-row inmate with a team of expensive attorneys to MAKE SURE that we are not about to kill an innocent person.

            So if you’re sentenced to die by the hand of the State, you should automatically be eligible for a platoon of experienced lawyers flanked by a dozen legal staffers to help make sure that you are not like one of those 9.

            Killing someone should be very costly…even for Us.

          • dudleysharp

            The result is the same but the intent was very differnt, which makes them very different, which was the moral component you avoid in wrongly equating the two.

            Let’s say you intentionalyy run over and murder three children because you have a beef with their parents.

            Let’s say an eighteen wheeler truck overturned and spilled its cargo of oil, and you could not help but loosing control of you car, because of that oil, and you killed three children as a result.

            Pretty obvious moral differences. Yes?

            But, as you say: “The result is the same”.

            Are you so unaware?

          • tasteless chap

            If it can be proven 100% that that monster in your scenario was fully in control of his mind and his vehicle, then I’m not going to shed a tear for his life being taken by the State. That being said, I’m not sure killing him solves anything. Killing him will not prevent that scenario from happening somewhere else in the future.

            Intent does matter in our system. We call it manslaughter when the taking of life is less culpable. So when We The People do it by accident, I should have called it manslaughter instead of murder. My mistake.

          • dudleysharp

            I am being sincere and complete.

            The circumstances are exactly as I meant.

            The accidental killing would involve zero culpability on the part of the driver, which was the circumstance I was describing/

      • Claudio Giusti

        18 death row condemned are free thank to DNA. It’s a 5%. As Watt Espy sad 5% of 20.000 executions were innocent.

        • dudleysharp

          18 is 0.2%.

          9 of those 18 were off of death row and no longer subject to execution at the time of dna exclusion.

          • Claudio Giusti


          • dudleysharp

            simple and basic

          • Claudio Giusti

            DS is a professional hangman-friend. He knows nothing of the death penalty, he knows nothing of the world, he doesn’t know what happened 40 years ago north of the border.

          • dudleysharp


            I have been correcting you for years and you have never been able to factually or rationally counter any of my material, just as within these most recent exchanges.

            Be more productive.

          • Claudio Giusti

            DS is a poor little man
            without any knowledge who likes to kill people. He does it because killing
            people makes political careers. Well, in Italy, without death penalty and with
            60 million persons, we have less than 500 homicides per year. If Americans were
            Italians they had 2.500 homicides and not 15.000. Does the death penalty deters
            murders? it’s looks not. Death penalty costs tens million dollars per
            executions, so in Houston they have not enough money to investigate crimes.
            Vendetta is the only rationale for capital punishment.

  • Rusty

    In Mr Blecker’s view the mission of prison is “punishment”, and he describes the mission of state and federal DoC as “safety” rather than punishment. Regarding prisoners jailed for life without parole he also says their existence should reflect punishment rather than privilege, though he does not describe what the form of the punishment should take. I wonder what bleak forced labor or torture he would invent for prisoners who have no hope they will ever leave prison alive? Having said that, it seems any incarceration without hope of release would become “cruel and unusual” and therefore unconstitutional. You might even argue the death penalty is more humane (excluding the execution of innocent prisoners) than life without parole.

    Secondly, shouldn’t the focus of prison for prisoners be rehabilitation (in addition to safety) to try and return prisoners to become useful members of society rather than burdens on society? In addition to rehabilitation, teaching of useful skills to enable released prisoners to have purpose and to reintegrate into society and become contributing members is shown to reduce recurrence of future criminal activity.

    Of the prisoners I have met, many are faced with addictions, mental illness and homelessness. The problem of homelessness is often compounded by their issues with addictions, mental illness and the mere “fact of” arrests (without conviction) and convictions, as they are no longer socially acceptable to rent from those with a clean record.

    If we are going to be intellectually honest about addressing crime recidivism We need to address root causes like addictions, mental illness and life skills at the same time we recognize that both taking one innocent life is one to many and that life without parole is probably cruel and unusual.

    To go further we must address societal root causes like poverty, effective education, and the over-criminalization of non-violent crime, starting with elimination of “zero-tolerance” policies and mandatory sentencing. Let’s change the way we look at making mistakes into “teachable moments” rather than immediately throwing away the lock & key

    Are these easy or inexpensive problems to solve? No, but what are the long-term alternatives if we don’t invest in fundamental infrastructure improvements across the board?

  • Jazzycat

    Not only is it hypocritical for the state to kill as it tells its citizens not to, but “do as I say not as I do” has never worked in any situation. How does the professor rectify the notion that the death penalty has no place in a civilized society? For example the rest of the world has mostly abandon it.. except for places like the Middle East or China, no role models there.

    The neurosciences today tell us that “blame” is an antiquated way of looking at how people behave. It appears that no one is in control of how their mind works. Genes and environment make us who we are. For example, and it has the good professor knows well, most of the violent criminals in prison are male, that’s the Y chromosome. But < 1% of the male population is imprisoned at anyone time, that's environment.

    And to ignore the fact that many people have been cleared on death row of their crimes, as well as the well establish fact that innocent people have been put to death, a recent case in Texas comes to mind, and the professors position appears rather callous and unjust. Is this guy really a law professor?

    Life in prison is still life in prison it's not freedom on the streets. Revenge is not justice.

    • dudleysharp

      Murder and executions are two very different things, morally, just as kidnapping and incarceration are, robbery and fines are.

      It is important to be able to understand the differences betweem guilty murderer and innocent victim, crime and punishment.

      The majority of countries retain the death penalty.

      The reason the death penalty is supported is based within justice, as all sanctions are.

      • Jazzycat

        Morality is not about rationalizing how you kill a person – that seems perverse. Morality is about the well being of other people. Morality doesn’t come from religion, it comes from science, as in, the more we know changes our values, which impacts our ethics, and in the end, our morality. Otherwise, we still might be burning witches at the stake.

        The differences between a murderer and victim goes without saying, but you seem to miss the point that we do not allow victims to determine punishment, because they especially can’t be objective.

        But you’re flat out wrong about other countries supporting the death penalty. Outside of the USA and Japan, no western nations support capital punishment. The countries that do are places like the middle east (in Saudi Arabia they behead people during half time at soccer games then play on a bloody field), north korea, china, afghanistan, etc. No role models on that list, agree?

        And what seems to be willful ignorance about the neurosciences, along with blatant hypocrisy, aside, I’m confident that fewer and fewer people will subscribe to the misguided notion of “justice” associated with the death penalty, just as fewer and fewer people subscribe to racism (the 2 are linked)… and the reason I am so confident is because that’s how it always has been.

        • dudleysharp

          It appears that the majority of people in all countries support the death penalty for some crimes.

          86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever – April 2013
          World Support Remains High
          95% of Murder Victim’s Family Members Support Death Penalty

        • dudleysharp


          “There is no race of the offender / victim effect at either the decision to advance a case to penalty hearing or the decision to sentence a defendant to death given a penalty hearing.”

          “As blacks represent 47% of murderers and whites 37%, we see that whites are twice as likely to be executed for committing murder as are their black counterparts.”

          • Jazzycat

            Clear speak takes courage, because whenever we speak clearly about a subject that attacks a lot of lies, we advance the sanity of the nation.

            Fun to debate you, but afraid not much new here. Your views appear to be based on ignorance. Sorry, but race is huge in death sentences:

            According to a recent study by Professor Katherine Beckett of the University of Washington, jurors in Washington are 3 times more likely to recommend a death sentence for a black defendant than for a white defendant in a similar case. The disparity in sentencing occurred despite the fact that prosecutors were slightly more likely to seek the death penalty against white defendants. The study examined 285 cases in which defendants were convicted of aggravated murder. The cases were analyzed for factors that might influence sentencing, including the number of victims, the prior criminal record of the defendant, and the number of aggravating factors alleged by the prosecutor. THE ROLE OF RACE IN WASHINGTON STATE CAPITAL SENTENCING, 1981-2012 (Jan. 27, 2014).

            As for your point about a majority of people supporting death sentences, that, sadly, is true, but you ignore my point that that victims don’t get to decide punishment for a reason, and even more important, your so called majority is smaller than ever, and according to PEW research is in a free fall – death penalty support has dropped 23% since 1996.

            The point is that moral progress takes time: this was so with slavery, gay rights, interracial marriage, etc., etc., and it has be so with the death penalty. 100 years from now, people will look at folks like you, the way people today look at folks who kept slaves 100 years ago. For example, your callous position ignores all those who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death, it also ignores the fact that the death penalty is not a deterrent…

            With that, just saying I’m wrong on other points (about the neurosciences?) is bizarre. Out of the 4 or 5 books that I’ve recently read about the newest on the mind, “Incognito: the secret lives of the brain” was the most comprehensive. Sam Harris’s “The Moral Landscape” was another great one. Check them out, it may inform you enough to change your views, regardless, I’m confident that times will continue to change.

            Happy 4th!

          • dudleysharp

            Did you even read the Washington study that you presented?

            What the study said:

            “By contrast, the results of regression analyses indicate that juries were three times more likely to impose a sentence of death when the defendant was
            black than in cases involving similarly situated white defendants.”

            Reality seems much different.

            Table 7 appears to say that the difference is by an odds multiplier of 3, not 3 times.

            Table 2 states the juries imposed the death penalty on black defendants only 3.7% more than for white defendants.

            If only 3 more whites (1.7%) and only 1 less black (1.8%) would be sent to death row, then the percentages would be exactly equal. Yes?

            Instead of a 200% difference, as indicated by “3 times”, we are only looking at less than a 2% variable in death sentences, by race – about as
            neutral as it can get.

          • David Green

            Jazzycat, first of all, it degrades the rest of your argument when you begin by insulting the object of your clear speak.

            Regarding the increased likelihood of juries recommending the death penalty for black defendants vs. white ones, that argument speaks to how the death penalty is currently applied not the integrity, propriety and usefulness of the death penalty.

            Your point about victims appropriately not deciding on punishment is correct. The same should hold true for judges, juries, and the general populace. The state must decide by statute to use the capital penalty for purposes of permanently eliminating proven offenders (read vicious murders) from our midsts, without regard to class, race, means or intelligence so that they never have the opportunity to offend again. It’s not to punish them but simply to remove them. That’s why they should be euthanised as painlessly as expedition allows.

            I disagree that time will toll the elimination of the death penalty. I believe the opposite will prevail across the world, even in the more criminal-condoling nations of Europe, for example. When crimes get more vicious and prolific .. when criminals are coddled to the point where criminality pays, and consequences are not feared, the innocent public will fight back and demand real justice and security.

          • Jazzycat

            hello david! saw a response from you earlier this week, but now it’s gone. try to catch you from here…

            sorry, but from what i remember, you dismissed the points i made w/o addressing the issues.

            for example, we never rectified race as a bias issue, know you’ve dismissed it, but others keep pointing to the numbers. the obvious being, it’s a flawed & biased system.

            then there’s the issues of the state mistakenly killing someone who’s really innocent: add in to date, something like 187 people have been exonerated from death row (usually) based on DNA evidence. talk about flawed system. i.e. the science tells us “eye witnesses” aren’t that reliable, no bias, our eyes fool us.

            as for the free will issue, don’t remember what you said, but it seemed like you didn’t get it… it’s been pointed out that 3 things that people on death row have in common: a combination of bad genes, bad parents, or bad luck. which of these, exactly, are they responsible for?

            of course, you’ve seen the news out here in california, they threw out the death penalty as flawed and i saw the reason why, bottom line though, its flawed.

            finally, aren’t you using a form of circular logic? you have no proof to back your counter claims, and they seemingly all fall apart under scrutiny: i.g. there’s no proof the DP works as a deterrent, in fact, look at gun laws in Illinois, chicago has (near) highest gun deaths any city, yet that state has fewer deaths by guns than many smaller southern states that have no gun laws.. and of course, illinois has no DP and most all southern states do.

            one could argue that gun laws are more affective than DP when it comes to making people safer from being killed by other people.

            it’s a flawed system, the state shouldn’t be in the business of killing, and the reason most countries have dropped it is because it’s not an affective deterrent and it’s uncivilized.

          • David Green

            Good to hear from you again, Jazzy.

            I believe the best way to see my detailed responses is to, first, go to the bottom of the page and click “Load more comments” and keep doing that until all the responses are displayed. Then go to just above the comment section and click “Sort by newest”.

            ..But just to give you a quick snapshot of my responses to jog your memory, I’ll respond to your points one by one :

            Regarding the increased likelihood of juries recommending the death penalty for black defendants vs. white ones, that argument speaks to how the death penalty is currently applied not to the integrity, propriety and usefulness of the death penalty as a security tool.

            I agree the death penalty shouldn’t be used unless it is certain the perpetrator is guilty. We now have sophisticated technologies to help to determine guilt.

            Regarding the free will issue : as I understand what you’re saying, although a person has no control over his fantasies or desires, he has higher conscious control over acting on them. That puts us right back to where a person is responsible for his actions, so all that talk about a person not having free will and being controlled by his environment and brain chemistry is rendered moot.

            I’ve never claimed the death penalty works as a deterrent and that’s not the reason for its use. The death penalty guarantees one killer will never be around to kill again .. something no other method can claim.

            Your gun law point us not only silly, but superfluous and pernicious. I think you agree without my having to elaborate. See the above paragraph.

            Please support and justify your statement that the death penalty is uncivilized.

          • Jazzycat

            Greetings David!

            Thanks for rehashing with me! I’ll run with it..

            If you concede the racial imbalance with sentencing, how can you not connect the dots and join us? Unless you take people AND MONEY out of the picture, and you can’t, there will always be a racial & economic bias. Therefore, you will never be able to apply the DP fairly, which speaks directly to its integrity, propriety and usefulness.

            Hence: DP is uncivilized because:

            1. The state should not give itself the right to kill human beings, especially in an arbitrary & discriminatory fashion – the DP is imposed disproportionately upon those whose victims are white, offenders who are of color, and tend to be uneducated & concentrated in certain geographic regions of the country.

            2. Think you said you don’t understand it, but no other western nation uses the DP – they all use to! Allow me to try and explain that: the DP is a cruel relic of the earliest days when things like slavery, branding and all sorts of barbaric practices were common. Like those barbaric practices, the DP has no place in a civilized society – that’s why it’s being dumped… except for the middle east, et al.

            3. An execution is a violent public spectacle of official homicide, one that endorses killing to solve social problems – the worst possible example to set for society.

            4. And again, one innocent person put to death by the state and we’re all killers… unlike life in prison, and any other criminal punishment, the DP is irreversible. And if new technologies were to come along to clear a person, they’d be of no use – like the case where texas killed an innocent man due to ignorance among firemen.

            So, the technologies you speak of, to establish guilt, have also found 187 people on death row innocent, to date. That speaks to flaws in our criminal justice system w/o considering the ramifications of the race & money bias with the DP. Had the Innocence Project not taken up their cases and proved innocence, there’s no reason to believe the 187 wouldn’t have been wrongly put to death. The sciences explain why eye witnesses aren’t always accurate, so there’s a human factor that’s also flawed, hence all of the 187 were cleared by DNA. What about the innocent w/o DNA evidence to clear them? There must be more. So many flawed parts to this system that’s it’s no wonder the United States is the only western nation still using it.


            As stated, even with free will being a myth, we’re still accountable for our behavior! Regardless, “blame” is the old way of looking at behavior. They can’t control it, so lock ‘em up, don’t kill them.

            Sorry, may have confused Dudley with you regarding the DP as a deterrent? Regardless, the guarantee you want isn’t needed, life in prison works, and major prisons have contingency plans for disasters.

            As for noting that my gun point was silly.. bingo! That is how it was intended, some “fuzzy” logic. Still think you’re using a form of circular logic. If the DP is a safety issue, you’re a bit over the top justifying it w/o pointing to why all western nations, except us, dumped it. (think the middle east is safe? kidding!) i.e. if it was a safety issue, all would move toward it. they have henious crimes elsewhere and a much more violent past.

            (“Pernicious?!” Really? If I understand you correctly, not sure how you got there, but no harm intended.)

        • dudleysharp

          I didn’t suggest vicims determine punishment. Jurors and judges determine punishment based upon the law and the circumstances of the crime.

          You are in error on all other points, as well.

        • dudleysharp

          Actually, that is how morality is established.

          As a general rule, it is based upon not what we do, but why we do it.

          Some folks, amorally, equate all killing.

          Some, amorally, equate all taking of money.

          Some, amorally, equate all types of holding people against their will.

          Those are people that just cannot make easy moral distinctions, who cannot tell the differences, between crime and sanction, guilty murderers and their innocent vicitms, as an example.

          • Jazzycat

            Disagree. Think you’re misusing the term morality to make a point. Most would agree that morality is about the well being of other people. Period.

            As in: It’s not morally defensible for the state to kill.

            People who have been shown to have damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain can kill w/o remorse and justify their actions. But that’s brain damage.

            Your other points included, they go against normal behavior and are associated with child abuse. These are broken people…

            I’ve read this in several books on the neurosciences:
            Q. Do you know what all serial killers, studied to date, have in common?
            A. Child abuse.

    • Well Duh

      it is absurd for you to question if this professor is really a law prof. because he disagrees with about the DP–the DP has been found to be constitutional you know by SCOTUS so his view that it is legally acceptable is not w/o foundation in USA law. As for the moral implications –the man is law prof not a philosophy prof…nor did he pretend to be the latter. Also you state the supposedly well established claim that innocent people have been executed in the USA–OK so who? Name names–if it so well established then you should be able to say who assuming it was a legally constituted execution.

      • Jazzycat

        Sorry, wasn’t questioning him because he’s pro death penalty, questioned him because of his reasoning, specifically, ignoring all those cleared from death row based on DNA, as well as those put to death who were innocent.

        Huge article in New Yorker Mag about a poor innocent (white) fellow in texas murdered by the state, accused of killing his kids by setting his house on fire, they killed him, even as it was discovered that firefighters weren’t trains to figure out how fires start, they pass on their ignorance to each other. Wasn’t till this case that any of this was figured out. It took a scientist from Livermore who specialized in how things burn to call out that: there’s science to explain how things work.


        As you know, science explains how things work. Like how the brain works… your concept of blame is wrongly misplaced. Free will is a myth… per the neurosciences. Just as you are not free to choose if you’re gay or straight, liberal or conservative, etc, you can’t control how your mind works anymore than a serial killer can. The neurosciences tell us some people can be fixed, and some have to be warehoused for life. No need to kill anyone.

        • Well Duh

          i dont know that he does ignore it–he said he supports the the IP and has one of his own at NYU; He seemed to say the DP should be applied in conclusive cases. He said he wanted lots of DNA testing to enhance the certainty of the sentence. If free will is a myth hell open up all the prisons and rewrite the history books!! Nazi war criminals were not responsible for genocide–they were just born that way!! You think Ted Bundy could be fixed?? Problem is he had a proven record of escape from custody and every time he escaped dead bodies turned up all over the place. Besides society isn”t morally obligated to fix even if it could. Society has the right to express moral outrage at certain crimes ==which is why Eichmam was executed rather than sent to rehab in Southern Cal!!

          • Jazzycat

            don’t know, but it sure looks like he ignores it to come to his conclusions.

            free will is a myth. choose to be gay or straight? how about conservative or liberal? you don’t even get to choose if you like music or not – some peoples brains light up on fMRI scans when music is played, others do not. when you read the words i write, can you describe what it is you’re doing? can’t cause you’re conscious mind isn’t doing it, your brain is. our conscious minds don’t drive the boat, the brain does, once the brain learns how, the conscious mind is out of it… try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand.

            pink floyd: “there’s someone in my head, but it’s not me…” BINGO!

            neurosciences tell us much. you may not know what you’re talking about here, but you sure do have strong opinions about it… more proof that there’s a plethora of scientific ignorance in this country.

            of course, it doesn’t mean no one is accountable, but it does mean you can’t control your thoughts anymore than a serial killer can.

            and while it’s okay to hate these people, it’s no excuse to act like them. it’s morally wrong and hypocritical for the state to kill.

            hypocrisy should be the first clue that your views are what’s morally indefensible.

        • Well Duh

          Problem with the warehouse argument is again Bundy and folks like him who have a good record of escape and then further murders—you know in for a penny in for a pound–and also the strong possibility that they can kill inside the prison either staff or fellow inmates. On the TX case==that may prove to be a wrongful execution but we can’t be sure yet. But it is possible I admit… But you said MANY innocent folks had been wrongfully executed–well many?? Yo u should be able to do better than just one case!! In my life time I can think of lots of folks who were depicted as innocent who were latter conclusively found to be guilty —the Rosenbergs for example….maybe the DP was too harsh a sentence for them but it wasn’t like they were innocent as we now know for certain even thought for years a vocal minority loudly protested their non guilt.

    • Well Duh

      You say life in prison is still life in prison-you don”t even say life w/o parole!! so the maximum sentence for you is life w/parole –and anyways the professor’s position was that safety for the public should not be the only factor in criminal justice–he added that punishment should be restored to the outcome.

      • Jazzycat

        If parole is granted, it means a process was followed. Not sure what you’re trying to say, but you sound a bit Draconian.

        The worst get life w/o parole. The rest deserve a break when they meet the criteria for parole.

        • Well Duh

          So a process was followed big deal!! The Moscow Trials were a process, Star Chamber was a process..that is why we add the word “due’ as in due process not just process. By the way why is the DP morally unacceptable but life w/o parole isnt? My own view is that the DP is irrational but that society has a right to be irrational in some cases–a right to express moral outrage at certain crimes and criminals, moral outrage with with the harshest possible punishment. Thus folks like Eichman and Goering ended up at the end of a rope —society had more than a right to express outrage at the genocide they engineered by demanded they for fit their lives.

          • Amos Kissel

            Dp is morally wrong for the same reason murder is wrong. Dp deprives a future of value that society can recieve from murderers. They don’t stay evil forever in the majority of cases. Society can benefit from their rehabilitation, and learn from them what led to their criminality. Hopefully their rehabilitation will provide information that can prevent future atrocities. Only time can tell if murderers will be rehabilitated, and work for restitution for society. Society has every right to be outraged and distrustful of murderers, however, dp reflects a revenge fantasy for some, and im learning that others have an intense fear that they will harm society again. Prison is effective at stoping future harm to society, so this fear is irrational in my opinion.

          • Well Duh

            self defense is not amoral or wrong..society has a right to defend itself from persons who commit the ultimate crime and show no capacity to change. You know we aren’t talking about shop lifters here although the way you all go on about it you would think that.

          • Amos Kissel

            Self defence is fully acceptable in my opinion also. But who can judge whether or not someone will change. They were going to execute the poor guy on part two of the show, and he was innocent! Probably a model prisoner. How can we call that, or execution of other rehabilitated murderers self defense. Meanwhile those in the justice system are pretty effective at stoping inmate violence. I don’t see the logic that prison is not effective enough at protecting gaurds, society, etc. and the need for execution, especially since there is ethical reaserch that could be done to help detect and prevent future murders seems like an emotional response. You watched the creepy video huh… There are proffesionals who can learn from creepy stuff like that, but its not helpful for average people.

          • Well Duh

            you say a majority do not stay evil forever–who stays anything ‘forever’?–OK so what? Can we execute the minority that do stay evil forever? Is it OK to execute the Eichman and Bundy’s of the world? I would settle for that. Prison may not be as effective as you claim in preventing future harm to society ===there is an ongoing threat to staff and fellow inmates for example–some one serving life w/o parole has got nothing to lose and some like Bundy had escaped from custody to commit more murders…But even if it were effective society still has the right to express outrage with the maximum punishment that can be delivered. You should spend some time watching the video of Richard Speck before he died—

          • Amos Kissel

            I fully understand your position. I of course would be outraged also if i were to watch that video. But my position friend is to let proffessionals, sociologists, psychologists, physiologists, etc. use their knowledge to learn how to stop and detect criminals sooner. They can learn more from the living than the dead. It seems about as rare for escape as executing innocent, at least in the modern justice system, so that concern seems irrational.

          • Jazzycat

            you don’t know the parole process, you don’t know the case by case situations, but once again, you have strong opinions about stuff you know little about about.

            DP is morally indefensible because it involves taking another life – DUH! again, it’s okay to hate these people, it’s not okay to act like them.

            and for the record, the nazi’s killed many, but more than 1/2 of the 6 million jews were killed by ordinary (non-nazi) germans before the death camps. now before you get high and mighty, i’d say think about this: slavery in the south did far more damage to this country than nazi germany ever came close to doing. that whole towns would come out in a carnival-like atmosphere to watch a man or woman swing from a tree, people who were doctors, lawyers, clergy, etc. so you will find crazy behavior everywhere..

            but you still don’t get to act like the people you hate.

          • Well Duh

            your personalized ad hominem attacks reveal you are absurdly shallow–you are like a 5 year old stamping his/her feet on the ground and yelling “because I say so”!! Are you going to hold your breath until you turn blue ?? You act like you have a monopoly on morality. Sorry ego manic but you don’t–it is not amoral to take a life in self defense for example or for the defense of others; it is not amoral to argue that some surrender their right to life when they have been convicted via due process of crimes that society finds beyond redemption. Your claim that criminals like that are fixable due to advances in brain research is totally laughable since it discounts the social and cultural factors that shape a personality which can never be recreated thus corrected–you cannot un ring a bell. Your failure to recognize the social factors shape a person is just another example of how shallow your opinions are on the subject and how laughable they would be in any serious forum. As far as lynchings go those are not legally sanctioned you dumb ass….god are you really this slow? Today the process for execution is so long in CA for example it takes decades!! How much process do you want? DP convicts already get far more process than any other criminal convict and they deserve it the least….you talk about the “many” innocents who have been executed in the USA yet you cite only 1 example…yeah that is really conclusive–one example.

          • Jazzycat

            You’re funny. And personal attacks aside, Egomaniac? You must mean egocentric. But who cares? I only see you sounding off stamping your metaphoric feet. I only pointed out facts.

            I never said criminals “like that” were fixable – no wonder you sound off like that, you don’t even understand what was said – the neurosciences can tell us who can be fixed and who must be wharehoused. No one said or suggested extreme killers can be fixed.

            And man do you get it wrong! I never said it’s amoral to take a life in self defense, it’s simply hypocritical and amoral for the state to kill like that. You can’t understand that, well DUH!

            Try this fun fact, hot head: they use to kill people for stealing horses and everybody was for it. Today, fewer and fewer people support the death penalty, and only the USA & Japan use it in the western world.

            that means that good, hot-headed- folks like yourself, are in league with countries like north korea, china, the middle east. you’re real cool dude.

            as for innocents put to death, get off your butt and google it. one article had 10. anything more than 3 establishes a pattern. capital punishment belongs in the dark ages.

          • Well Duh

            thank you for that all so important correction of a typo; does the word “petty” mean anything to you?? Anyways I can correct a typo but I doubt you can correct your neurotic self righteousness —and you did not just point out facts as you say, no you are not Joe “just the facts” Friday–all you have done is bloviate … I am sorry but you did in fact say that advances in neuroscience have made have greatly reduced the level of guilt we can assign murders because free will is an illusion, If I wanted to waste my time any more I would find the exact quote. Such a laughable view ignored the social and cultural factors that make a person’s behavior…Does excessive violence in the media for example in the USA impact a young man’s behavior? That is why defense atty in penalty phases go on and on about some dude’s rotten childhood, his abusive daddy and his slutty mommy…or how he was addicted to violent videos etc. Oh and you misspelled north korea—it should be North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. By the way I don’t deny that it is highly probable that some innocent people have been lawfully executed in the USA. I also don’t deny that the very high probable that some innocent folks have died serving life w/o parole sentences or that some innocents have died serving life sentences. Just because systems are not perfect doesn’t mean we should give up on seeking justice. Just because some Nazi war criminals escaped justice and lived out their lives peacefully in So America doesn’t mean we should stop trying to bring them to justice or whatever other example you care to use….so it is back to the central question of the whole debate–are executions ever justified….does justice ever demand an execution? Do some people because of their acts forfeit their right to live among us even in captivity? Answer is yes when due process finds them guilty. If you want to argue their isn’t enough process–OK. Maybe we need to appoint better defense lawyers or make DNA tests mandatory —those are all reasonable.
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Debating The Death Penalty

          • Jazzycat

            Me petty?! Really? Hmmm…

            Sorry, while I know I’m not the best speller, I’m sure you weren’t using those words correctly. And that’s just a matter of fact, no offense was meant.

            Again, you misunderstand, I’ve never said anything like that about the neurosciences. They tell us blame is not the way to look at behavior, but they do not say anything about excusing a persons behavior, just the opposite. Not everyone can be fixed, not everyone needs to be locked up. They tell us that what every serial killer has in common is that every one studied to date was abused as a child.

            Child abuse, mechanical and genetic disorders may be the way to address the causes. CP has no place in a civilized society.

            Bad, and extreme bad guys should be locked up for life – as you’ll never see charles manson types freed. CP has no placed in a civilized society, as most of the world already knows.

          • Well Duh

            No execution in the USA today is like a old school lynching–that is an assertion w/o any basis in fact rather than a carnival atmosphere 99.9. percent of the public even pays attention to executions any more….

          • Jazzycat

            sorry, think you missed my point. you pointed to the nazi’s, i said there were whole towns in this county who carried lynchings, and they all came out to watch a person swing from a tree. it was reported they took body parts as souvenirs. now, i wasn’t there, but if you enter lynching into google images you can see just what i’m talking about… whole towns.

            now you were saying there should be moral outrage when we talk of nazi’s, i agree, but would add that here in this country, we have our own nazi types who got off scott free. both of these deranged peoples justified their morality.

            when we kill out of self defense, that is one thing, most all other killing is amoral, and the state should never be in the business of killing those it doesn’t want or like – nazi germany is a good example for why.

            hey! ever wonder why the usa is the only country in the entire americas to use the death penalty? middle east, southeast asia, eastern africa are places that use the death penalty.

          • Well Duh

            look i dont for one second deny that Jim Crow south with its thousands of lynchings was just as bad as Nazi Germany. The only difference was that the Nazis applied modern industrialism to the genocide but far be it from me to deny the comparison, heck you coulda brought up the Salem Witch Trials too….but I brought up the Nazis or even Japanese war criminals because there were state sanctioned executions–would it have been just to let them live out their lives in Spandau prison as Hess did? No justice demanded the state take their right to live among…so why isnt that the case with say Bundy ?
            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Debating The Death Penalty

          • Jazzycat

            the south was pretty industrial, too, and tried to export slavery around the would.

            what the japanese did to chinese and others in ww2 was almost as bad as the nazi’s stuff. but ww2 just happened – history wise. witch trials an example of how real moral progress takes time. we use to hang people for stealing horses, too… it will continue to get better, it’s only us, the japanese, the middle east, east africa and southeast asia that still cling to the DP.

            pretty sure the ted bunny types can’t be fixed & would never get out. look at manson.

            agree, and no state shouldn’t be in the business of killing.
            but think bundy fried back in the late 80′s?

            as for hess, he may have had information that chamberlin was getting paid by the germans to look the other way as hitler built his armies and started marching before the war. they let him live, but hard to believe a 93 yr old who reportedly couldn’t get out of bed could hang himself. could have been he was close to death, about to spill the beans, and the british had him killed & then said he killed himself.

            the other ww2 gem is that the japs did try to surrender before we dropped the bomb – check out the online national archives, you can read the docs, it’s pretty cool history, but glad it’s over.

  • Patty Jo

    I was opposed to the death penalty until I was called as a potential jury member in a trial of a man who had tortured and killed a 3 year old girl. When the bailiff read the charges we would be exposed to, I sobbed that a tiny child had endured what she endured. Then we filled out a questionnaire on our feelings about capital punishment. I was faced with my beliefs in rehabilitation, protecting society and administering justice. I asked myself if, given that this man was guilty of what we would decide, could he ever live in grace again? The murder was so terrible that I felt he could not ever reach a state of grace again. Not in anger or vengeance, I felt at that time that it was best to let him die. I have since felt that way about two horrible murders, both of them accompanied by torture and cruel brutal acts. I don’t carry anger or vengeance, but rather resignation that these people cannot be rehabilitated. All three of them sit on death row, and I didn’t serve on the jury, but I can tell you that if I had to sit through that trial and see those pictures, I don’t know who I might have been when I came out the other side. It was a shattering experience to come that close, one that has never left me. I’m not sure how I might have voted to this day. It seemed to me that we owed that child the elimination of someone who had harmed her so brutally. I focused on the child, the victim, and felt since that day that the murderer was not human and couldn’t attain humanity.

    • Amos Kissel

      Rehabilitate: to restore to a condition of useful and constructive ability. Human: having human form or attributes. I’m sure that under nazi like supervision and control, even the most violent and graceless persons can be useful. Even if only to learn what caused them to be so deviant and how to prevent deviance in others. Maybe then we could find out what made them do such evil things. Was it brain abnormality, drug addiction, mental illnss, etc?

  • Well Duh

    The professor is right on–it is time to hang em, hang em high!!

  • Well Duh

    I can understand folks who reject the DP on moral grounds–I don’t agree but I can understand them; I don’t get these liberal bleeding hearts though that treat convicted killers like they are the victims!! good example–the so called botched execution recently that caused so much hand wringing in the USA–you would never know from the media coverage that this dude shot a teen girl and buried her alive—oh no, must not tell the public that..so he suffered from a few minutes–good.

  • Well Duh

    obviously the DP does not deter murder–states with active DP are often the ones with the highest violent crime rates. but society does have the right to express its outrage at the most extreme crimes, Now if I were designing a campaign for the DP I would use the video that Riahrd Speck made before he died when he was laughing it up about how he escaped execution…how the stupid tax payers were paying for his sex change operation etc…that video made the professor’s case…

    • dudleysharp

      That’s not how you measure deterrence. All sanctions deter some, rgeradless of crime rates.

      • Well Duh

        Sorry I don’t get your point….I said that a key claim by advocates of the DP is that the DP deters murder/violent crime. Yet, states that actively use the DP –FLA and TX for example–have among the highest murder rates in the land–and have for years–so where is the deterrence??

        • dudleysharp

          I thought I was clear.

          Murder rates are not how deterrence is measured. All sanctions deter some, regardless of crime rates.

          I though that was clear.

          For example, let’s say the cities of Iceland and Iceland as a country, or Singapore, have the lowest murder and crime rates in the world.

          Because all other cities and countries have higher rates than those, does it mean none are deterred by sanctions in any other of those cities/countries? Of course not.

          Just as in the US, lots of variable murder rates with jurisdicitions with and/or without the death penalty, some higher and/or lower rates.

          With no sanctions all rates will go up. Somalia comes to mind.

          • Well Duh

            so sorry but your point is not clear…there is NO question that a key argument presented over and over for the DP is that it deters murderers from murdering because they do not wish to run the risk of the ultimate sentence if caught–it assumes of course that these are rational actors making rational choices and thus reduce their exposure to punishment. IF that were the case would not one expect to see a radical reduction in capital crimes in states that have active use of the DP, a reduction over what the rates were before the DP? And do we? TX comes to mind and the answer is no we do not. The DP in say TX has not led to a reduction in capital crimes over the pre DP levels. No change means not very effective. Your claims that ‘to some degree’ all sanctions deter is hardly reassuring–to “some degree”?? WOW that is really impressive. I gave a dime to a homeless dude today–to some degree hiis life was improved but he didn;t get up and dance for an hour over it.

          • dudleysharp

            Well Duh:

            Being dishonest should not be part of your resume. Change your MO.

            Murder rates in Texas

            12.8 for 1973, the years Texas passed new statutes

            16.1 for 1982 The first year of executions

            4.4 for 2012

            That’s a 67% reduction since 1973 and a 73% reduction since 1982.

            As a rule, the death penalty deterrence studies find deterrence based upon executions, with a much lower deterrent effect by just having a death penalty statute.

            I said to some degree, first because there have been 28 studies finding for death penalty deterrence, in the US, since 1999, with the highest deterrence rate causing a 5% reduction in all murders, which is a very small percentage, but a huge savings in innocent life, about 900 per year based upon an average of 18,000 murder/year, from 1973-2012.


            FBI data as reporteed by:


          • dudleysharp

            The murde rate has dropped 73% in Texas since executions resumed.

            There have been 28 studies finding for death penalty deterrence, since 1999.

            Murder rates are not the way to measure deterrence. All sanctions deter, regardless of crime rates.

          • dudleysharp

            Weird. Gave a thorough reply, here, and it hasn’t showed up.

            I’ll make the link non active. Some of my active link posts have vanished.

            There have been 28 studies finding for death penalty deterrence in the US, just since 1999.

            The most deterrence found within those studies found a 5% reduction in murders, which is a small drop in percentage, but a huge saving in innocent lives, numbering 900/yr, since 1973, with an estmated average of 18,000 murders per year. (I recently read a quote that said the max deterrence rate was higher than that, but it didn’t reference a specific study).

            Texas, has seen a 73% reduction in their murder rate since executions re started in 1982.

            But I cannot attribute that, soley, to executions.

            You will find three essays, here, as to why you can’t, simply, connect death penalty deterrence to murder rates.

            See paragraph 9, then footnote 2

            OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
            99.7% of murderers tell us “Give me life, not execution”

          • Well Duh

            Besides who is talking about “no sanctions”–anti DP types claim that life w/o parole is a sanction and a better one since it avoids the possibility of executing the wrong dude or unconstitutional executions. Anyways when one implements a public policy one expects to see measurable change….that is why policy is implemented…the DP is a choice some states make in the policy arena and it is hardly unreasonable after many years of it to ask if it has produced the desired change –a safer public which presumably is a key goal of public policy. …states with active DPs like TX and FLA are great places to pose that ?

  • saleav

    Capital punishment makes all citizens accessories to killing. I do not want that on my conscience, no matter how guilty the executed or how heinous his crime. Civilized societies sublimate the thirst for revenge, an understandable but ultimately pointless emotion.

    • David Green

      saleav, you assume the purpose of the capital penalty is for revenge. What if it were strictly for security management of a civilized society ? That is, to eliminate any possible threat from the predator, having already proven their violent capability, in the future.

      • dudleysharp

        It is for justice, first.

        Yes, of course, the death penalty is the best method of making sure the criminal harms not more. But, all sanctions must be provided for justice first. The beneficial outcomes of justice include protection, incapacitation, deterrence, rehabilitation, etc.

    • dudleysharp

      Does incarceration make us accessories to kidnapping? Fines with theft?

      Please. Let’s try to make distinctions between crime and sanction.

      • Amos Kissel

        Incarceration and fines are necessary for the protection and reimbursement of society.. How can we say killing is necessary?

        • dudleysharp

          Obviously that wasn’t my point.

          But, all are provided for justice, as is the death penalty. Justice first, everything must be secondary.

          We don’t want to incarcerate, execute or fine people if they don’t deserve it. They deserve it based upon justice.

          • Amos Kissel

            How can capital punishment be seen as justice? I would argue that it is an injustice due to its hypocritical nature. Is it not because murder deprives a future of value from its victim and society that it is an injustice? Yet depriving society from the future of value that a criminal can offer is justice? How so? People can change, especially when removed from a free society and old age starts to set in.

          • dudleysharp

            All sanctions are based upon justice, what is the just and proportional sanction based upon the crime.

            To understand that, you must be able to understand the moral differences between crime and punishment, the guilty criminal and the innocent victim.

          • Amos Kissel

            I understand that the first thing a roaming bandit does after becoming a stationary bandit is to obtain the only sanctioned use of violence. What they say is just is violently reinforced. Those who oppose are often eliminated, labeled criminals etc. So what example are we setting with the death penalty but a hypocritical one? By claiming that there is such a thing as a just execution we encourage vigilante justice, and eye for an eye retribution.

          • dudleysharp

            Both reason and history disagree with you.

            The establishment of laws and sanction is what limits vigilante justice, obvioulsy. The death penalty is a just sanction, in that vain, also obvious.

          • Amos Kissel

            Laws and sanctions also set an example for what justice is expected to be. People look to the holders and enforcers of the law to find role models. A lot of what I see is hypocracy, racism, and a system that largly targets poor and minorities. Laws and sanctions are only as good as the people who enforce them. there is a whole lot more good done than bad. Nevertheless, the issue I was here to discuss was the death penalty, which is a moral issue. Could the justice department work effectively without the death penalty? yes. Is it always a benefit to society to enforce the death penalty? No Is it enforced anyway because it is the law? Yes. How we can find justice in capitaly punishing someone who has been on death row for years, is scared straight already, begs the forgivness from the victims family, and hopes for their sake they do have forgiveness in their hearts, is something I can never understand.

          • dudleysharp


            You have a lot of presumption and very little evidence.


            “There is no race of the offender / victim effect at either the decision to advance a case to penalty hearing or the decision to sentence a defendant to death given a penalty hearing.”

            “As blacks represent 47% of murderers and whites 37%, we see that whites are twice as likely to be executed for committing murder as are their black counterparts.”

            Is There Class Disparity with Executions?

            “99.8% of poor murderers have avoided execution.

            It may be, solely, dependent upon the definition of “wealthy”, as to whether wealthy murderers are any more or less likely to be executed, based upon the very small number and percentage of capital murders that are committed by the wealthy, as compared to the poor”

          • Amos Kissel

            Are you a chat-bot or a real person? I was talking about laws in general being racist and affecting the poor, not the death penalty… Yes of course capitol punishment is a sanction but calling it a just one is to concede that criminals deserve less protection under the law than others. It is cruel punishment to go beyond the duty of protecting citizens of the state. Justice should not be so over reaching. It is beyond the reason of self defense to execute inmates under control of the state. If there is no risk of future harm to society by inmates then justice has been served. Any sanctions beyond the restitution or protection of citizens are fullfilling a revenge fantasy. This revenge should not be encouraged because it is unjust due to its lack of impact on the health and well being of citizens of the state.

          • dudleysharp

            The no racism link includes a significant review of additional violent crimes.

            Based upon the distribution of violent crimes committed by race/ethnicity, I doubt you can prove that the system is racist.

            You seem to only presume, but never know. Making factual assertions, without review, is not advisable.

            Please review:

            Race, ethnicity and crime statistics.

            For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault.

            For the Hispanic- White comparison, the Hispanic level is 4.0 times greater than the White level for homicide, 3.8 times greater for robbery, 2.8 times greater for rape, and 2.3 times greater for aggravated assault.

            For the Hispanic–Black comparison, the Black level is 3.1 times greater than the Hispanic level for homicide, 4.1 times greater for robbery, 2.4 times greater for rape, and 1.9 times greater for aggravated assault.

            “Recent studies suggest a decline in the relative Black effect on violent crime in recent decades and interpret this decline as resulting from greater upward mobility among African Americans during the past several decades.”

            “However, other assessments of racial stratification in American society suggest at least as much durability as change in Black social mobility since the 1980s.”

            When correcting for the Hispanic effect:

            “Results suggest that little overall change has occurred in the Black share of violent offending in both UCR and NCVS estimates during the last 30 years.”




          • Amos Kissel

            Unfortunately , this information is irrelevant to my concern that capital punishment is neither protecting society from a threat, or beneficial for them in any way. Any sanctions beyond the protection or restitution of society is misguided.

          • dudleysharp


            The well known facts are, completely, the opposite of what you state. No suprise at this point.

            The protections for death penalty defendenats are far greater than for any other sanction, what the US Supreme Court has call “super due process”.

            Protection is secondary, justice primary.

            But of coure, by both deterrence and incapacitation, execution offers more protections for society than does any lesser sentence.

            Ovioulsy, living murderers harm and murder, again, executed ones do not.

            It is an impossiblity for you to prove your “revenge fantasy” claim. Again, your ignorance or intentionally fals eclaims take over.

            The death penalty is supported for the same reason all sanctions are, a just and proportional sanction for the crimes committed.

            In addition, the death penalty has greater protections, moving it even further away from revenge than are other sanctions, none of which are based within justice.

            When you make a claim it is better to have some evidence for it, as opposed to the evidence being the opposite of your claim.

          • Amos Kissel

            You assume that people do not change. Once a murderer, always a murderer is a prejudice claim that is deragitory to the human person. If you see only a potential murderer, and no longer a human being, then I understand your resistance to my assumption that retribution is about revenge fantasy. People change. And That is a fact Jack.

          • dudleysharp

            No, I don’t assume that. People can stay the same, they can get worse and they can get better, which may include still being a danger.

            Anti death penalty folks would rather risk harming more innocents, by allowing more murderers to live. I prefer protecting more innocents, by lowering the risk of more innocents harmed.

          • Amos Kissel

            By taking this stance you show your lack of trust in the system to protect society from incarcerated inmates. At the same time, you endorse the execution of rehabilitated murderers, as well as depriving society from the chance to learn from murderers, by executing them. I believe the small risks do not outweigh the benefits of ending capital punishment.

          • dudleysharp


            No, I defer to reality. How about the huge risks?

            from 14,000 – 28,000 additional innocents were murdered by those murderers that we allowed to murder, again, — recidivist murderers — since 1973

            from 40,000 – 200,000 innocents have been murdered by those known criminals we have released on parole and probation, while under government supervision, and/or, were otherwise released or were criminals never incarcerated, since 1973.


            The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter?
            A Review of All Innocence Issues

          • Amos Kissel

            It is only when a moskito lands on your testicle that you realize there is always a way to solve a problem without violence.

          • dudleysharp

            And when you find the breading ground of the mosquito’s, you destroy it.

            After you solve the intermediate problem of the mosquito’s prior location, yous quish it, knowing that there is no rehabilitation for blood sucking.


          • Amos Kissel

            Haha yes i do that to mosquitos. Others have a moral taboo on killing even a mosquito. In my state we have no capital punishment. So I am slightly biased against it due to my geography. There is no fear of mosquitos when one lives in a windy city. I appreciate that things may be very different for your geographical location. I hope that crime is dettered and eradicated from all geographies. One way to do that is to kill criminals, but there are many other ways also.

          • Amos Kissel

            It is illogical to assume that data from all murderers generalizes to those on deathrow who would be serving life if the death penalty was removed. This is fearmongering data and is not relevant to this discussion. This data shows the difficulty in prosecuting criminals more than that the prison system cannot handle those serving life, or those on deathrow

          • Amos Kissel

            Im not advocating for all laws and sactions to be eliminated.

          • Amos Kissel

            The idea that I need to classify two types of humans, one innocent and the other criminal is rhetoric similar to seperating white and black, Jew and German. Slavery was legal, genocide was legal, torture legal, and they all received majority support on the ground that one group was less human than the other. The same argument is made for capital punishment now. -It is wrong to kill the innocent, but criminals..meh-?!

          • dudleysharp

            You position is amoral.

            All the situation you describe are based upon injustice.

            I am discussing the actual guilt of criminals within a democratic republic and their treatment within a well recognized and accepted legal system. Violation of the social contract, with harm to innocent vicitms, must have a sanctioning response against the unjust, as all such countries agree.

            A majority of the world’s countries still have the death penalty, based within justice, just as they have many other additonal sacnctions, based upon that same foundation.

  • Danny Blas

    Premeditated and purposeful killing of an innocent person using the death penalty is different than a faulty ignition switch killing an innocent teenager. GM did not purposefully kill the teenager. Apples and oranges, and I’m not even a professor.

    • dudleysharp

      Blecker was saying they knew the switches could cause death and they did nothing about it.

      He was not speaking of either premeditated or purposeful killing of an innocent person using the death penalty. He was speaking of a case where innocence was unknown.

  • Michael

    The government should act in a way that most benefits its citizens. Abstract notions like “justice” are distractions that just get in the way. Clearly, rehabilitation would be the best outcome for prison. The sooner criminals can start contributing to society the better. I don’t want my tax dollars going toward feeding and clothing inmates. At least as little as is practical for maintaining a safe and prosperous society.

    • dudleysharp

      Justice is hardly abstract. It is was one of the greatest goals and accomplishments of man. It is given folks what they deserve, a very important function and the foundation for all sanctions.

      • Amos Kissel

        Abstract: expressing a quality apart from an object. -Justice is not an object. It is an idea that is in the eye of the beholder. The very fact that we are debating the justness of capitol punishment shows how abstract, and relative it is to the individual. This is a key point in many of my arguments against the example the “just” State sets with capital punishment.

  • Jazzycat

    First of all, morality has nothing to do with how you justify killing another person. Morality has nothing to do with religion. Morality is about the well-being of other people. Morality comes from science: the more you know your values change, this affects your ethics, and ultimately the well-being of other people or morality. This is why, for example, we don’t burn witches or people who disagree with “god” anymore.

    The fact is, most all of the western world has band capital punishment with the exception of the United States and Japan. People who support the death penalty are in league with countries like Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc., hardly role models for justice or morality.

    That anyone would ignore the neurosciences and what they tell us about how the mind works with regards to the criminal justice system, especially, will never get it. Regardless of the name you call it, the result is still the death of a person. And hypocrisy is still defined as saying one thing well doing another. Rationalizing it with a name doesn’t change a thing.

    But I’m confident that as time goes on fewer people will subscribe to the death penalty, because that’s the way it has always been.

  • Amos Kissel

    Capital punishment as a deterance for crime is nonsense! People kill themselves on a regular basis, unfortunately …

    • dudleysharp

      All sanctions deter some. Obviously, suicide is not a sanction.

  • Claudio Giusti

    Capital Punishment is like slavery: nobody has the
    right to impose it.

    Death penalty is a clear violation of human rights:
    right to equality, right to life and freedom from torture.

    It is an “arbitrary and capricious” black hole in the
    Law: a land with unclear and inconsistently drawn borders, changing in time and

    It is a “privilege” of the poor, because “capital
    punishment means that those without the capital get the punishment”.

    It is an irreversible punishment and kills the insane
    and the innocent.

    It is not self-defense, but revenge.

    It is not a more effective deterrent than prison and
    makes worst the evil it pretends to cure, because death penalty brutalizes and
    makes society more violent.

    Death penalty is a human sacrifice, a ritualistic
    slaughter carried out in cold blood by the State. It is a travesty of justice
    and “nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and

    Sooner or later everybody will realize that capital
    punishment is an immoral, cruel, racist, inconsistent, not working violation of
    human rights: “the pointless and needless extinction of life”

    • David Green

      Claudio, re :

      “Capital Punishment is like slavery: nobody has theright to impose it”
      – By what authority do you make this statement ? How do you justify saying it ?

      “Death penalty is a clear violation of human rights:right to equality, right to life and freedom from torture.”
      – Again, where do you get your information ? Where’s this list of human rights ? I’d love to see it so I can see who dictated it.
      – We people have the right to make laws as we see fit to address problems as they exist. Moral authority resides with the people who make and live under the laws.

      “It is an ‘arbitrary and capricious’ black hole in theLaw: a land with unclear and inconsistently drawn borders, changing in time and
      – What does this mean ?

      “It is a “privilege” of the poor, because ‘capitalpunishment means that those without the capital get the punishment”.”
      – Because the death penalty is applied unfairly or incorrectly is a fault of the appliers and not a fundamental fault with the process, which is beneficial when used correctly and fairly. (“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” as someone famously said.)

      “It is an irreversible punishment and kills the insaneand the innocent.”
      – See the above answer about how it’s mis-applied not degrading its usefulness.
      – The fact that it’s irreversible is a good thing. I’d hate for murders to come back around and murder again after we thought we’d gotten rid of them.

      “It is not self-defense, but revenge”
      – I don’t consider the death penalty as revenge and I wouldn’t side with anyone who would use it for revenge. It’s a security management tool to remove proven killers from our midst to be sure they never kill again. In that sense it’s self defense for the entire society.

      “It is not a more effective deterrent than prison andmakes worst the evil it pretends to cure, because death penalty brutalizes and makes society more violent.”
      – If putting a dangerous predator to death deters any other potential criminal from violent behavior it’s a plus .. an add-on, but not the reason for the death penalty. The reason for the death penalty is to keep one criminal from ever killing again.
      – I believe the state exercising the death penalty for safety-enhancing reasons is a good thing and would not promote a general attitude of violence, especially when it’s applied fairly and as painlessly as possible.

      “Death penalty is a human sacrifice, a ritualisticslaughter carried out in cold blood by the State. It is a travesty of justice and ‘nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering’”
      – Get real ! “Human sacrifice .. ritualistic slaughter” .. give me a break !
      – It’s not a travesty of justice .. it is justice and it’s fair and it’s necessary for our protection. Pain and suffering is not an issue when the perpetrator is properly euthanized.

      “Sooner or later everybody will realize that capitalpunishment is an immoral, cruel, racist, inconsistent, not working violation of human rights: ‘the pointless and needless extinction of life’”
      – Clearly that’s an opinion. I don’t share it.

      • Amos Kissel

        It is too bad that laws and human rights, in your opinion, are just so long as people agree with them by majority support. That is the only hole in your position. Philosophers are the ones who debate human rights. I’m not an expert in philosophy. I know enough to say that if you look for reasons to support the death penalty, you will find plenty. On the other hand, if you look at the values you are endorsing by supporting the death penalty, you will find that they are very similar to the ones you are criticizing in murderers. Often times setting the example for others to follow means spending more money, or putting your life in danger. For example taxes and military service. It’s not easy to maintain moral values when others value immorality, but it is always just.

        • David Green

          It seems this declaration of universal human rights that has been bantered about in this thread is the basic reason for calling the death penalty immoral and, therefore, the crux of your argument. If philosophers have developed this moral code, please tell me where did they get their authority ?

          Amos, if you can tell me from whence the authority to define these universal human rights emanates that would go a long way to enhance your position.

          The thing is, laws and mores are made and defined by man and the long world history of various forms of governments has been a long development of learning how to make laws to shape and protect societies that are useful and fair.

          In the US form of government, the authority rests with the three branches. They make, define and enforce the laws. Their authority is given to them by the people in elections and, therefore, the three branches’ authority emanates from the people.

          It hasn’t always been that way in the world. Through most of the history of civilization, the authority was commandeered and assumed by individuals. Systems were improved and life was better when the people began to have their say.

          Think of what is happening in the Middle East as we speak. One individual has declared himself the sole authority to decide what is moral and demands that all Muslims obey him. Do you want to live under the laws and morals that he decrees ? That’s why people and their opinions matter.

          • Amos Kissel

            I am all for government by the people, for the people, v.s. a dictatorship. However, What the people want, is not always based on informed decisions. Philosophy gets its authority from its ability to lead people to a consensus of what is just, or a universal value,or Truth, through a synthesis of thesis’s and anti thesis’s. Philosophy would ask “is it more just to kill in self defense, or to defend oneself without killing in self defense?” The answer depends on whether or not killing becomes more valuable than not killing in a situation such as self defense. Some would argue that killing becomes a value sooner in self defense situations than others. Some would value killing as soon as they have an excuse, while others would only consider valuing killing as a last resort, or even not at all,and choose their own death. The authority comes from the truth that is revealed. Philosophy does not prove one way right or wrong, but examines the values behind the way. So it has no authority in the sense that the majority does.

          • David Green

            Amos, your second and third sentences are contradictory. In the second, you say people’s opinions are not real or acceptable because they are not informed. In the third, you say the authority and the power of philosophers is that they help people come to the right opinions. In other words, if the philosophers are doing their jobs, the second sentence is incorrect and, therefore, inapplicable. If they’re not doing their jobs and the people remain uninformed then the philosophers’ authority is misplaced and not valid.

            Bottom line, again, the authority rests with the people and, if philosophers are doing their jobs, the people will reach the “right” decisions.

            All that said, because the people can’t be informed on all the aspects and ramifications of an issue, because they dont’t have the time or the inclination to do the research, is why they elect representatives, whose job it is to be informed and make decisions based on their constituents’ collective wishes.

          • Amos Kissel

            Philosophers can’t be everywhere at once. I would say that there is a lack of their job being done, it doesn’t pay very well to reveal morals and values to people. Nevertheless, even if they were doing their job, the majority rules, and not the moral values that philosophy reveals. Philosophy’s authority lies in the moral realm, which is relative to each person. Some States have stopped the death penalty, while others continue it. This shows how the philosophical values of States reflect different majorities. If you support the death penalty regardless of my objections, there is nothing wrong with that. In my opinion you are as informed as I am about the moral objections that arise due to capital punishment, as well as the similarities it has to other laws, and historical events. I have learned a lot from our discussions, and I hope you have also. That is the goal of philosophy- from greek philia- love- and sophia- knowledge – philosophy is the love of knowledge. You make a good argument for capital punishment, but I disagree respectfully. I believe that the sciences have much to learn from the people on death row. Financual abundance is likely an influence in state representatives decission on capital punisment.

          • David Green

            Amos, here’s what I think : I think you have a personal moral code. ..And that’s a good thing. It’s healthy to be guided by a moral code. All decent people are.

            The thing is, you either believe your moral code applies to everybody, which would be delusional, or you wish it applied to everybody, which would be hopeful, or you demand that your morals apply to everybody, which would be dictatorial. The only universal code is the set of laws passed by the state.

            You’re grasping at any straw you can find to make your personal moral code universal. Your point about philosophers is superfluous. When you say “philosopher” I think you mean clergy, but you don’t know how to term it without making your argument religion-based, which would, surely, undermine it, what with all the baggage that encumbers religion-based arguments. A religious minister’s moral influence and authority extends only as far as his congregation, and if any don’t agree with his moral code, they will leave for another church, or no church.

          • Amos Kissel

            Being a clergy is one way to make a degree in philosophy pay, but there are others who are athiest etc. I do wish others would share my philosophy, but I also appreciate the fact that whats best for society, earth, makind etc. is not always the most moral decision. I just hope that others make decisions with morals in mind, as opposed to just doing things because others support the decision. I believe this leads to a better world. I see how serious you take this issue also, and wish you all the best. Thank you for your valuable opinion.

          • Amos Kissel

            Of course i dont mean it’s immoral to do whats best for mankind, society, and earth. I mis spoke there. What I meant is that there is often a way we do things that could be moraly improved upon, but we do them to the best of our ability with limited finances or skilled labor

      • Claudio Giusti

        Authority is the Universal declaration of Human Rights and 40 years of reflection.

        Americans should know what “arbitrary and capricious” means, because before Furman any type of homicide was capital as also rape, robbery and kidnapping.

        In the world there were, and there are, some actions which deserved or deserve death. I mean blasphemy, sodomy, free speech, free thinking, changing religion, etc.

  • Jazzycat

    Huh?! Well, sorry! But it looks like you like to play with numbers in order to rationalize your ignorance. What’s up? Can’t imagine people would judge others on race to the point people die? Funny, not that long ago, whole towns would come out in a carnival like atmosphere to watch a man or woman swing from a tree, and these were so-called good folks, ministers, lawyers, police…

    Hmmm…. Okay, while I don’t buy your rationalizations, and you seemingly ignore critical flaws in your thinking, while zooming in on one point and ignoring all others (i can see you’re busy taking on all), one still has to love consistency!

    But your logic reminds me of the gun lobbies; “best answer for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” when of course, the best answer is to “not let a bad guy have a gun.” That’s fuzzy logic.

    per ACLU web site:

    “In January 2003, researchers at the University of Maryland concluded in a study commissioned by the Maryland Governor that defendants are much more likely to be sentenced to death if they have killed a white person.

    In August 2001, the New Jersey Supreme Court released a report which also found that the state’s death penalty law is more likely to proceed against defendants who kill white victims.

    In April 2001, researchers from the University of North Carolina released a study of all homicide cases in North Carolina between 1993 and 1997. The study found that the odds of getting a death sentence increased three and a half times if the victim was white rather than black.

    In 1997, David Baldus and statistician George Woodworth examined the death penalty rates among all death eligible defendants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between the years of 1983 and 1993. The results of their study proved that the odds of receiving the death penalty in Philadelphia increased by 38% when the accused was black.

    Nationwide, a 1990 General Accounting Office (GAO) report reviewed numerous studies of patterns of racial discrimination in death penalty sentencing. Their review found that for homicides committed under otherwise similar circumstances, and where defendants had similar criminal histories, a defendant was several times more likely to receive the death penalty if the victim was white than if his victim was African American.”

    There’s more, but who cares? Times change, and the death penalty will continue on its way to someday be a relic of the past.

    • Amos Kissel

      Bad guys dont let the good guys stop them from getting guns, except under a system of government radically different than ours. To stop bad guys from getting guns more than a law would have to change. There would have to be a war on guns. That would not be pleasant. It risks making the bad guys with guns, who would be fewer in number, much more organized, powerful, and violent in their attempt to attain more guns. There are so many guns in this country, and we have guns so built into our constitution that a all out war on guns is not likely. Just my opinion but i do think there is a major problem and something needs to be done.

      • Jazzycat

        agree. but think the point was that the original answer isn’t really the best answer as claimed.. it’s a hypothetical question, so you can give a hypothetical best answer.
        But most all other western nations have the laws against owning guns that you question and they don’t have our death rates.

        • Amos Kissel

          My friend, you have only half the story. Take a look at Switzerland. Gun ownership, education,and maintenance is mandatory. They have one of the lowest murder rates in the world. So there is an example that more good guys with guns is a solution. One that is more American.

          • Jazzycat


            Greetings! – would say you’re only looking at half the story, they put their men in service to guard their country, it’s a true militia, they have no other military, think that’s why they have highest rates of gun ownership in the world.

            But that’s not what makes it so different..

            If these guys want to keep their guns after service, they have to license the weapon. That’s different.

            Other differences include: 10% handguns in their households, compared to 18 % handguns here. Handguns are the issue here.. and while it’s reported that 29% of their households had guns, 43% of ours do.

            But the real “American” example, or the difference between the record number of deaths from guns here and not there, is that they have a far greater population of atheists than we do.

            So while the USA is not as religious as the middle east, it is far more religious than Switzerland, and if people believe they can live forever depending on what they think, then they will bring all sorts of flawed logic to the table.. like guns.

            Me thinks most reasonable people would agree: the BEST hypothetical answer, to that hypothetical question, is to not let the bad guy have a gun to begin with.. in every case.

            It’s like:
            “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” No: obviously, people with guns kill more people than people without them. And the reason we don’t ban knives and cars, which can also kill people, is because these things were designed to help people do other things than kill people.

            Wish we were more like the Swiss!

          • Amos Kissel

            I would prefer militias here over a war on guns. On the other hand we have a war on drugs why not add guns to the list? I don’t want to own either anyway so I’m not going to give up anything. I agree religion makes for flawed logic, however I am religious, and feel that I am more often misunderstood then flawed logically. Religion is based on a philosophy and it’s hard to share a philosophical truth when there is no known common ground to stand on. I too often assume that others would agree with my simplest logical explanation, only to find that they do not understand the logic behind that either. Its similar to my debates here on capital punishment. Anyway, my religious group does not want to force others to join, or live by our philosophy. We just want to be able to live by it ourselves without laws stopping us. Of course we want to share it as well… but that is difficult as I mentioned.

          • Jazzycat

            understand. only problem is that people with rational minds don’t freely choose what they believe. one example, is that i happen to believe that george washington was the 1 st press of the united states. the reason i believe that is because the evidence says so.

            that people would believe they can live forever depending on what they think, allows for a type of wishful thinking or flaws logic that allows them to fly airplanes into buildings.

            problem with religion now, technology is there to let small numbers kill large numbers, and it’s all based on beliefs that distort the very nature of reality.

  • Jazzycat

    David, are Dudley and yourself the same person?

    Sorry, maybe better wording would be to say that when we speak the truth about a subject that attracts a lot of lies, we advance the sanity of the nation. Or is respectfully calling out ignorance, considered an insult?

    The manner in which the death penalty has been applied throughout history speaks to its integrity, propriety and usefulness. Just looking around the world at the nations who utilize it today (middle east, north korea, china, etc.), it has no integrity, no real propriety or use. That you don’t get that race, or class, plays a role in death penalty results, is beyond understanding.

    As for grouping victims with judges, juries when it comes to punishment, I’d disagree. A victim is subjectively biased due to personal involvement. But that’s all way beside the point. The manner in which you state your views about euthanizing criminals, when warehousing is more affective, reeks of fascism. That your side talks of concern about a “painless death” for the “condemned” speaks to the absurdity of your position.

    Wishful thinking aside, poll numbers show that fewer and fewer people subscribe to the death penalty. Outside of the USA, Japan, and the backward countries that make up the middle east, southeast asia, and many third world nations, not many countries still use it.. outside of the USA, there are no other countries in north, central, or south america that still utilize the death penalty. There are no other western nations. Hot spots for capital punishment are middle east, and eastern Africa. Not even the evil russians utilize it.

    Justice and security have nothing to do with the state murdering dysfunctional people who are broken. It’s hypocritical, uncivil and amoral. Neurosciences tell us that free will is a myth, and that blame is an antiquated way of looking at peoples behavior.

    Me thinks that anyone who could ignore how innocent people have been put to death by a flawed system that caters to class and race, in exchange for a false sense of security, speaks to a level of self-centeredness that can only be found with a conservative mind. That would mean that you are not able to control how your brain works… anymore than a serial killer does.

    • dudleysharp


      Facts matter. It appears that you have just accepted all you have been told, without question. Not uncommon.

      I used to be anti death penalty and I questioned everything.

      Take some time. These contradict all your points and I don’t think you will be able to undermine any of them. But, I encourage you to try, as it will assist in all becoming more informed.

      The Death Penalty: Fair & Just

    • David Green

      Re : “David, are Dudley and yourself the same person ?” Jazzycat, of course not. Are you and Amos the same person ? (I don’t believe so, but it’s the same indignity.) Do you find it hard to believe that two people would share the same opinion ? As a matter of fact, while Dudley and I both do support the use of the death penalty, we support it for distinctly different reasons. Dudley feels that justice is the main focus while I feel security management is foremost.

      You base your opposition to the death penalty on how it has been used, not on its usefulness as a social tool. It’s like saying cars are no good because some people don’t drive well. Euthanizing proven predatory murderers is a valuable and essential method of being rid of such antisocial deviants and when the practice is properly and fairly implemented is has no equal in effectiveness. Did we give up on the idea of the computer the first time we noticed a bug ? No, we got busy and fixed it, improved it until it worked smoothly and became an essential tool.

      I never said the victim should decide the penalty. I don’t know where you got that. I’m saying just the opposite : the death penalty should be applied by statute, evenly, indiscriminately, without emotion.

      Warehousing criminals is not more effective nor more efficient than euthanizing them. We must take care of them for the rest of their lives. We must attend to their health, social, security and sustenance needs. Plus, there’s always the chance they could escape, no matter how secure the prison (think earthquakes, riots, external raids – remember, if an organized, funded and heavily armed cartel should take down a wall of a prison with a rocket, not only the criminal they’re trying to spring gets out but all the others do too.)

      Once again, your emotion is getting the best of you and I wish you’d stop throwing incendiary terms such as “fascism” around. You’d have a hard time convincing me that I’m fascist, of all things, just because I believe in dispassionate societal management. Indeed, I would think my view on this issue lean closer to the social.

      Wishful thinking aside, when the population of our planet begins to get so extreme that resources (such as water, food, fuel, etc.) are spread so thin that crime is much more rampant and violent even than it is today and prisons are overflowing and resources are drained from the support of needy citizens to support criminals, Nations will turn to the death penalty more and more to weed out the violent predators and get rid of them. This will happen. The population of the earth has increased by 4-1/2 fold in just the past 100 years and it’s on a steep upward curve, while resources on our planet have stayed the same. What do you think is going to happen ?

      While I agree that free will is a myth in some ways and at some times and that many factors contribute to anti-social behavior, that doesn’t mean violent people won’t continue to be violent, no matter the reason. The only way to be certain that they will not continue to be violent is to eliminate them from our midst, as painlessly as possible. Just let them be gone.

      I’m just trying to be practical here. I don’t have my head in the clouds and I don’t want to fry anyone for revenge. I’m only trying to manage things to help make things safer and more orderly for all of us. ..And that’s not a false sense of security, as you say. That’s true security. That violent attacker will never attack again. Guaranteed.

      • Jazzycat

        Very sorry, David! I can understand 2 people having the same view, but you use such similar flawed logic, so it made me wonder… KIDDING!!!

        Sorry, but you’re incorrect on what I base my views on. And you use anything but plane speak with those silly analogies. It’s like saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people… when the fact is that people with guns kill more people.

        The death penalty yields neither justice nor security. Using the term “euthanizing” sounds a bit fascist. Warehousing is affective, your paranoid concerns aside, you want to kill people because of cartels? bit of a stretch isn’t it? most killers are brain damaged people, you may be watching too much tv. the stuff you talk of happens mainly in 3rd world countries, not here. and it’s not common.

        as for population control, that’s another issue. you really think prisons are the place to focus? guess again.

        again, the neurosciences can tell us who needs warehousing and who can be fixed. someday they will control this.

        free will a myth in some ways? in every way! you don’t get to choose if you like music – some people’s brains light up on fMRI scan when music is played, others do not. people who believe in miracles tend to have an abundance of D-4 dopamine receptors in the brain. many extremely religious people throughout history, like joan of arc, probably had temporal lobe epilepsy. that guy who killed those folks from a tower at texas a & m back in the 1960′s had a brain tumor and knew something was wrong with him before he killed. i could go on.

        understand… on that note, you, nor i, can really control how our minds work either. otherwise, you and i could switch sides, just like that, but we can’t. your brain is wired one way, mine another.

        but i still believe that it’s hypocritical and amoral for the state to kill. life w/o parole is as affective and it is moral. as we learn more about how the mind works, i believe that science will show us a better way, just as it always has.

        • Amos Kissel

          There is a known correlation between lack of logic and support for the death penalty. Study on psych info database. Scholarly article.

          • David Green

            Amos, even though you are directing this statement to Jazzycat, if it’s meant to imply me, please point out the illogical statement I made.

          • Amos kissel

            Not meant to apply to you my friend.

        • David Green

          Jazzycat, I’m disappointed. I was really starting to look forward to a serious and challenging discussion on this subject with you. It seemed like you had a handle on the subject and had an enthusiasm to argue it. ..But now it just seems you’re giving up. Your rebuttal has degraded to nothing but insults and misdirection .. not a single cogent insight, save the one theme you tend to hammer on.

          You make statements like bumper stickers, but no meat .. no support. You make a statement but then don’t buttress it with so much as an explanation let alone a convincing argument,

          Even your posture looks defeated. By that I mean your writing. Your grammar, spelling, sentence structure and typing has gotten poor. ..Not that that is any indication of a thoughtful mind, but it was much better and now it seems you’re giving up. (Please don’t take this as a slam, but I’ve seen you do better.)

          Read through your post and I think you’ll see what I mean. I’m not saying this to belittle you but to challenge you .. to call you out. I’m in the mood for a good debate. I hope you decide to come forth with some thoughtful effort.

          You seem to have one lone theme, that is, the non-culpability of some perpetrators for their actions due to mental incompetence, a point which I have already acknowledged and conceded as much as possible.

          Being so sloppy, I could pick apart every point in your post and if you ask me to I will, but I hope you decide to refine and support your arguments so it’s a challenge for me,

          • Jazzycat

            David! Sorry to disappoint! Sometimes my humor falls flat, other times, in a rush, don’t think through how i come across…

            Let me readdress: Not everyones mind works correctly for various reasons. There is a component of brain damage to the prefrontal cortex in some killers, MRI studies show it. Others show biochemical dysfunction as a result of not being nurtured properly (this includes a lack of physical touch), i.g., these people don’t release neurohormones (google: vasopressin & oxytcoin) that reinforce feelings of trust when they are touched by people they love, they’re broken. Now consider the notion that free will is a myth, you really don’t control how your mind works anymore than you can control being born. In fact, your conscious mind doesn’t even drive the boat, your brains does. It’s not fair to call it the subconscious mind, cause the brain is faster and really does everything. Example, once you learn how to do something, your brain takes over – try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand. Can you describe what you’re doing as you read these words? You can’t, cause you’re not doing it, your brain is. This is why people can’t loose weight at will, or why you hit the brakes and then realize a car is pulling out in front of you…

            Now to connect the dots:
            Q. Do you know what all serial killers, studied to date, have in common?
            A. child abuse.
            (Saw that in 2 neuroscience books about the mind: “Incognito, the secret lives of the brain” by David Eagleman and the book “Moral Landscape” by Sam Harris.)

            But it doesn’t mean that people are not accountable for their actions – I’ve never said that, and never intended to suggest it. People should be accountable, and held accountable for their actions/crimes. Currently we lock up everyone, the neurosciences say that some can be fixed, others must be locked up for life – usually the worst cannot be fixed.

            Many of us feel that it is simple wrong for the state to kill as it outlaws killing. It’s okay to hate the people who do these bad things, but it’s not okay to act like them. It serves no purpose, it doesn’t effectively deter, as not all people are in control (brain tumor, damage, child abuse and drugs, etc.). Locking them up for life is the moral high road. Sorry, but “euthanizing” criminals does sound like something associated with nazi germany. Don’t mean to suggest people who support the DP are nazi-like, but maybe shouldn’t talk like that due to that visual.


          • David Green

            Alright already, James, I get your point about people not having control over their actions. ..But one last question about that : if free will is a myth in every way and criminals are driven by uncontrollable forces to kill, how can you say they can be held accountable ? How can that be ?

            Also, I get that you feel that the state killing anyone is immoral. (I assume we can set aside the issue of the state killing in military conflicts and for immediate security reasons, as not on-point).

            My question to is this : Which is superior in importance and, thus, in your opinion, should be the policy of the state, to not kill because it’s immoral or to kill proven perpetrators so that they can never kill again ? Please support your answer with justification.

            Final point for now : I do not think of euthanasia when I think of the Nazis’ killing of innocents. I think of gas chambers and scientific experiments and starvation. Euthanasia literally means, “easy death” .. the way you treat your pet when she’s too old, weak and sick to function anymore. It’s a kindness.

            ..And before you say euthanizing a killer is not a kindness, think again, the kindness is to the killer’s future victims, their families and the rest of us. If they’re monsters then we are protecting their victims and us from their monstrosities. If they’re driven by demons then we are protecting their victims and us from their monstrosities,

            In either case, the chance of them being rehabilitated enough to return to a normal life is miniscule .. and then how do you know they’re truly rehabilitated when you let them out ? They’ll always be a danger or potential danger, and a burden to us that we don’t deserve, as long as they exist.

        • David Green

          Jazzycat, you say I’m forming my opinions from watching too much TV. No, I’m forming my opinions based on statistics. Consider this : It had taken all of human history until around 1800 for the world population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in less than 30 years (1959), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion in only 13 years (1987). The population now stands at 7¼ billion people. If you look at a graph chart of this, the graph of the world population remains nearly horizontal from the beginning of mankind until the 19th century, then there’s a bit of an arc upward, then it shoots nearly straight up late in the 20th century.

          Based on that, if you don’t think we’re headed for deep water, consider that there will be no more water than there is today, that there will be no more oxygen, no more oil or gas and no more land. While the world population skyrockets, our resources remain fixed or are being consumed.

          What will happen when the population continues to explode to 10, 20 or 50 billion ? We’re already crowded on this planet. Don’t you think when water, food, fuel and land are much more scarce than they are today people are going to get a bit testy ?

          What do you think those right-wing gun nuts are afraid of ? They’re afraid of anarchy and people stealing their food, water and fuel. ..And on that point they’ve got it right.

          Frankly, I don’t relish the prospect of testy people and the proliferation of guns. Governments must act now to head off this unthinkable scenario by managing crime in a real way. If we do that, maybe the gun nuts won’t feel quite so threatened. I know I won’t.

          • Jazzycat

            Sorry, been busy…


            Sorry about the tv thing, think I was trying to say that cartels don’t break murders and terrorists out of jail enough to justify the DP in this country, especially over locked up for life.

            And we agree on overpopulation – it is the single underlying cause of every major problem we have on the planet. But education would go much farther than the DP. In fact, religion is a big player in that mess, if we could get rid of that, a lot of flawed logic would go out the window…

            But just read the news about obesity rates and it becomes clear that we didn’t evolve to be healthly.

            Evolutionary biologists say that we evolved to be able to procreate under the worst conditions. Now under the best conditions to date, we no longer are being shaped by our environment, in evolutionary terms, our culture is now driving us and our bodies can’t evolve fast enough to keep up, hence, more obesity, diabetes… and overpopulation. They call it an evolutionary disconnect.

            Managing crime “the right way” is exactly what I mean, using the neurosciences (sorry to sound like a broken record) can help us figure out who can be fixed, vs who can’t. Let’s just say that all the bad and the worst are NOT fixable – hence, life.

            While many rational minds will consider the ramifications of murder, who believes the bad and worse are rational? Doesn’t mean we excuse or somehow diminish their actions, but the real solution for fixing the bad, the worst, and even serial killers may have more to do with dealing with issues around child abuse & understanding genetic & mechanical defects that effect the mind.

            Point is, the DP has no place in a civilized society, and that’s regardless of issues around innocent people, or race/class bias. And the feeling is, that is why we’re the only ones in all the americas who use it, and why most of the world does not.

            David, don’t allow their behavior to drag you down to their level, to their way of thinking. The trick has always been to try and be civil no matter what the circumstances. Easier said than done, but that’s the goal. Life in prison works and it is affective.. even with the chance of parole, you will never see the charles manson types freed.

          • David Green

            Jazzy, you say, leave the worst of the criminals, the ones who are not fixable, in prison for life. That tactic simply does not do society any good. It doesn’t do the criminal any good. We’re just warehousing them until they die. In the meantime, we must guard them, we feed them, clothe them, keep them occupied, treat them for medical conditions .. especially as they reach old age It’s a clumsy, clunky way to operate. Why not euthanize them ? I don’t think I ever got an answer to that question.

            Stop spending money to keep them alive in prison cells, never to be a benefit to society again, always a burden, and use that money to educate the young who may otherwise be destined to follow in the footsteps of those tragic despots.

            I agree that identifying personality defects early in order to head off deviant behavior, if possible, is the right thing to do but, after they’ve crossed the line and are not “fixable”, that issue is past and we must deal with what we’ve got and not what we had.

            You say, “the DP has no place in society,” but you don’t back up that statement. Why not ?

            Jazzycat, I’m not allowing the deviants to drag me down to their level. I feel like I’m thinking rationally and practically. Indeed, I feel practicality is on my side of the issue. I’d love to hear you say how keeping incorrigible killers in prison cells for the rest of their lives is rational and practical.

            Weeding out the anti-social predators is a pro-society action, in my opinion, not counter to civilized society. Their existence among us certainly does not promote civilized behavior, do you think ?

            I could not disagree with you more than your last statement that, “Life in prison works and is effective.” How does it work and it’s effective in what way ? How does it do anybody any good ? There could always be an earthquake that splits the prison walls where Charles Manson is and he could get out.
            it’s possible. It would never even be possible if we had put him to death.

          • Guest

            Sorry for the double post. I had thought my response wasn’t posted so I posted it again. Sorry about that . . .

          • Jazzycat


            We don’t euthanize criminals! By my way of thinking, the term is meant to end the life for those who are in pain or are suffering. There’s a whole philosophy on it, but execution is what we’re talking about here. Think I understand your point, but sounds like fascist undertones when you phrase it like that, and it may explain some of the disconnect between our thinking.

            Using “euthanize” brings up a good point that’s on topic; consider that the nazi’s had a mercy killing program, where they “euthanized” mental and physically handicapped peoples.

            Where do you draw the line with that thinking? There will always be dysfunctional people. We don’t need to kill them.

            Consider this as a major proof that’s it’s not civilized to use the DP: if the state wrongly puts just one innocent person to death, then we are all murders!

            Lock up is more civil, no proofs needed outside of what should be the obvious, and the fact the DP is going the way of the gallows. How do you rectify all the other countries not using it? Like USA, then no other country in the americas. Like USA & Japan, then no other western nations?

            Keeping those who are harmful to society locked up does keep us safe. It’s as effective as killing in that they are removed from our streets. As for having an influence in jail, it follows freaks into death, and that can’t be controlled – poll numbers; 1/2 the people in Russia today think of Stalin as a hero. Go figure.

            We can weed out predators w/o killing. We don’t need to act like them to be safe. And your logic around manson isn’t really logic, you can use that kind of thinking to just anything. Fact is, mr manson always has, and always will be behind bars, and he’ll die behind bars for the crimes he’s committed w/o anyone else having to kill over the likes of him.

            I saw your post about free will… people are accountable because while the conscious mind doesn’t drive the boat, it is the gate keeper, it’s suppose to limit what the brain does. It’s like how a part of you wants to eat the cake, while the other part wants to loose weight. Conscious mind decides and is accountable for what we do. DO NOT make the mistake and confuse a reason for something, as an excuse for something.


          • David Green

            Jazzy, you say, leave the worst of the criminals, the ones who are not fixable, in prison for life. That tactic simply does not do society any good. It doesn’t do the criminal any good. We’re just warehousing them until they die. In the meantime, we must guard them, we feed them, clothe them, keep them occupied, treat them for medical conditions .. especially as they reach old age It’s a clumsy, clunky way to operate.

            Why not euthanize them ? I don’t think I ever got an answer to that question.

            Stop spending money to keep them alive in prison cells, never to be a benefit to society again, always a burden, and use that money to educate the young who may otherwise be destined to follow in the footsteps of those tragic despots.

            I agree that identifying personality defects early in order to head off deviant behavior, if possible, is the right thing to do but, after they’ve crossed the line and are not “fixable”, that issue is past and we must deal with what we’ve got and not what we had.

            You say, “the DP has no place in society,” but you don’t back up that statement. Why not ?

            Jazzycat, I’m not allowing the deviants to drag me down to their level. I feel like I’m thinking rationally and practically. Indeed, I feel practicality is on my side of the issue. I’d love to hear you say how keeping incorrigible killers in prison cells for the rest of their lives is rational and practical.

            Weeding out the anti-social predators is a pro-society action, in my opinion, not counter to civilized society. Their existence among us certainly does not promote civilized behavior, do you think ?

            I could not disagree with you more than your last statement that, “Life in prison works and is effective.” How does it work and it’s effective in what way ? How does it do anybody any good ? There could always be an earthquake that splits the prison walls where Charles Manson is and he could get out .. it’s possible. It would never even be possible if we had put him to death. Why is this guy still alive and able to influence young minds on the internet ??

          • David Green

            Sorry for the double post. I can’t remove it.

          • Amos Kissel

            We educate by not supporting the death penalty. We show that even the worst people are to be treated as kindly as possible while still protecting society. States without capital punishment have had consistantly lower murder rates than states with capital punishment. It is not likely that an earthquake will free Charles Manson. Meanwhile, psychiatrist, criminoligists, sociologists, etc. are learning from him and others like btk killer, and what they learn is going to help prevent and detect future criminals before they kill.

  • Amos Kissel

    While there is data that shows capital punishment is a deterrent this also shows it is not. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/deterrence-states-without-death-penalty-have-had-consistently-lower-murder-rates. Unfortunately I went to a scholarly article, dated 2013, and they confirmed my suspicion that there are too many unknown influences and wrongful adjustments to data relating to the deterrant effect of capital punishment! Going to a blog site vs a peer reviewed article for data interpretations is like consulting a magic 8 ball.

  • Claudio Giusti

    At Houston, they prefer spend money in death penalty, not
    in investigations.

    Years ago my slogan was “Save lives, Save money, Stop the
    death penalty”. Well, this is absolutely true in Houston, Harris County, Texas,
    the capital-city of the American death penalty where they spend million dollars
    in capital punishment and therefore do not have enough money to hire detectives
    to investigate 20.000 serious crimes per year.


    Psst, hey, criminal dude, c’mon down to Houston!


    20,000 criminal cases not investigated in 2013 by HPD

    City study of 2013 crimes indicates many probes had
    viable leads but were hurt by personnel shortages


    Dead and Buried: HPD barely investigated almost two
    dozen homicide cases


    In California there are 1.000-1.500 unsolved homicides
    per year, but they prefer spend 100-150 million dollars per year in death



    The Silent Crisis in California Unsolved Murders


    Why fewer murder cases get solved

    Christian Science Monitor 01 June 2009


    Unsolved homicide rate climbs in US

    Times Record News May 24, 2010


    Nearly 185,000 killings went unsolved from 1980 to

    Every year in America, 6,000 killers get away with

  • Claudio Giusti

    In 1991 in America there were 25.000 murders and in Italy 2.000. Now there are 15.000 in America and 500 in Italy. How can the idiotic death penalty supporters explain this. In Italy we have a 1 per 100.000 murder rates and in US 5. AND WE ARE WITHOUT DEATH PENALTY SINCE 1877.

  • Claudio Giusti
    • David Green

      Claudio, it is broadly acknowledged and agreed that there are problems with the implementation of the death penalty and we’ve got to get better .. especially making very sure the person is guilty.

      ..But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The death penalty is a very useful, indeed a necessary, tool and will be ever so much more necessary as populations and crime grows exponentially in the not-too-distant future, We can’t discard such an important security tool because it’s used incorrectly sometimes. Let’s use it right.

      • Amos Kissel

        I would counter that there is no correct use of dp. With increasing scientific advances to rehabilitate criminals, supporting the dp is deragatory to the human person. Especially the scientific advances in mental health. We wouldn’t assist the suicide of a deppressed person for the same reason. If you are familiar with Malthusian food shortsge claims, you can see the similarities. As need for food increases, so does technology that increases food production. The same can be said for criminals and rehabilitation. Only time can tell us if criminals can be rehabilitated. The dp does not discriminate between unrehabiltated and rehabilitated criminals. The later shows how unjust the dp is.

        • twells

          Sometimes, bad animals need to be put down. Humans are animals with a thinly veiled social compact. Breaking that compact will have sanctions. Believing that we can “fix” any criminal is naive.

          • Amos Kissel

            That doesn’t change the fact that many do change, and that there are professional fields that can ethically study murderers and find ways to prevent and detect murderers sooner. Animals should not and do not have the same rights or value to society that humans do. I agree 100% that people can not be forced to changed, that would be naive. I am not saying that friend.

      • Claudio Giusti

        world lives without the death penalty which was not abolished because kills the
        innocent. Capital punishment has not room in civilization because it kills the

  • Claudio Giusti

    Jeffrey Fagan

    Deterrence and the Death Penalty, A Critical Review of
    New Evidence


    Death and Deterrence Redux




    Robert Weisberg


    Deterrence and Jury Behavior Under New Scrutiny


    John J. Donohue & Justin Wolfers

    Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death
    Penalty Debate


    The Death Penalty: No Evidence for Deterrence


    Daniel S. Nagin and John
    V. Pepper, Editors



    Richard Berk

    New Claims about Executions and General Deterrence:
    D´ej`a Vu All Over Again?


    Kent Scheidegger

    Statement to the California Commission on the Fair
    Administration of Justice


    The deterrent effect of capital punishment A review of
    the research evidence




  • BellaTerra66

    Prof. Blecker, it’s people like you who really scare me.

  • Heath

    What a legacy to have, spending your whole life advocating for state sanctioned murder. Of all the ways to contribute to the human race, it’s hard to think of anything worse.

    • David Green

      Heath, thank you for that bumper sticker post. Now, if you can back up your wild post, especially as to in what way the death penalty’s murder, you’ll regain immeasurable credibility.

      • Heath

        I would be happy to talk about credibility. Dr. Ault is a man that supervised executions for the state of Georgia for many years. He was a life long civil servant in the department of corrections. He was not against the death penalty when he started in corrections. Not only did he quit his job, he now speaks around the country in support of abolishing the death penalty because of the issues that have been eloquently been discussed below by my fellow anti death penalty posters. In a recent interview he said, “It’s the most premeditated form of murder you can possibly imagine and it stays in your psyche forever.” He personally supervised 5 executions. He worked in the department of corrections for years. He called executions murder. Yes, I would say he has credibility, much more than I do.

        • David Green

          Dr. Ault is a psychologist by training, not a lawyer and, clearly, his characterization of the death penalty as murder is hyperbole and I believe he would agree with that statement. It certainly is not murder by definition.

          It’s understandable that he would use such language as, when he was in charge of the administration of death penalties being carried out by the state, he became sensitized by the process over the years and he suffered for it, even having to see a psychiatrist himself.

          There’s nothing at all wrong with being sensitive and empathetic but, clearly, it’s not the type of personality you want to carry out such a serious penalty. It’s good that he is no longer in that position both for him and for the state of Georgia. You can tell how emotional he is when he breaks down crying during interviews.

          For him to characterize the death penalty as murder is the mark of an emotional man. It takes a strong, confidant personality, indeed, to do what’s necessary to maintain safety and order in a civilized society and he was just the wrong man for the job. It’s as simple as that. There are plenty of jobs where that kind of sensitive personality is better suited .. some very important jobs in the fabric of society.

          All of his arguments against the death penalty have been brought up in this forum and have been debunked or dismissed as off the mark, one by one. His language is filled with emotion, not facts. All that is on the side of the death penalty opponents, it seems to me, is emotion. I have yet to hear any convincing facts. All the facts seem to be on the side of the death penalty proponents as long as it is carried out in the right way and for the right reasons.

          • Amos Kissel

            It has been shown that the death penalty is not necessary for the safty and order of society. It is law in some states, not all. I still chalange this law on, not only moral grounds, but on the grounds that it is motivated by irrational emotions as well, such as fear and outrage. Just because capital punishment is legal does not mean it deserves my support.

          • David Green

            Amos, why aren’t you getting it ? I’ve said over and over : the death penalty is not meant for vindication, revenge nor spite. It’s a management tool, with no equal in effectiveness, for the most violent among us.

          • Amos Kissel

            It is not just me, my state has no acceptance of the death penalty. They are inspiring. All persons deserve to be treated with the same moral principles in mind. Otherwise we encourage a philosophy that we are not all equal, and put purselves up on a pedestal while putting others through degradation. I will not support that ever no matter what the law says, respectfully.

          • Amos Kissel

            He may well have been a strong, confident personality before he was hired to execute humans. The immorality of that job would likely cause the breakdown of any man. Similar things happen to those who work at abortion clinics, or go to war. It shows how wrong the law is. Human life should not be ended by another human. It is not healthy.

          • David Green

            Amos, as previously, you make these off-the-wall statements without any support. To wit : “It shows how wrong the law is.” How do you justify such a statement ?

            Because some people, who are not suited for a specific position, end up having health problems, you claim that puts the entire industry into question ? Because some people have asthma and shouldn’t have a job cutting grass, that means we should eschew lawn care ?

            There are plenty of people who have the stomach for taking on tough jobs for the benefit of all. Think about policemen and firemen. Think of disaster rescuers and healthcare workers and war correspondents. Think about the special forces soldiers who removed Osama bin Laden from being a danger.

            Dr. Ault was out of his element and there are plenty of elements where he would shine and still benefit society.

            Civilization didn’t make to this advanced level by being weak. We still have monumental challenges ahead of us, indeed, likely the most challenging times are yet to come. It’s not the time to get weak-kneed now.

            If ever you wondered why conservatives call us “bleeding heart” and spineless liberals, look to your response for the reason. When liberals were attacked by racists and police dogs during the Civil Rights era, and when liberals were attacked by police and rednecks during the Viet Nam era, we remained resolute. Now’s not the time to prostrate ourselves before increasingly rampant crime. We must buck up and pursue workable, strong solutions.

          • Amos Kissel

            There were plenty of people who had the stomach to be good nazi’s as well. It was completely legal as well, supported by the majority. It was not moral, however,and anyone conserned with the world, society, and mankind would position themselves against immoral positions.

    • Heath

      I would be happy to talk about credibility. Dr. Ault is a man that supervised executions for the stats of Georgia for many years. He was a life long civil servant in the department of corrections. He was not against the death penalty when he started in corrections. Not only did he quit his job, he now speaks around the country in support of abolishing the death penalty because of the issues that have eloquently been discussed below by my fellow anti death penalty posters. In a recent interview he said, “It’s the most premeditated form of murder you can possibly imagine and it stays in your psyche forever.” He personally supervised 5 executions. He worked in the department of corrections for years. He called executions murder. Yes, I would say he has credibility, much more than I do.

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