I encourage my fellow BMGers to sign my White House petition to end the death penalty.
While obviously this petition is symbolic it asks the President to do three things that are within his power.
1) Commute all current death sentence to life in prison without parole
2) Issue an executive order ending the military death penalty
3) Endorse The Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act and campaign for it
As a State and US Senate, President Obama was an active opponent of the death penalty. He continued to voice this opposition during his initial campaign for the presidency and this has remained his position White House. That said nearly 200 prisoners have been executed since President Obama first took office in 2009. Join me in asking the President to use his second term political capital to spare the lives of the prisoners currently on death row, to end the death penalty in the military, and publicly support and push efforts to end the federal death penalty.
I’m afraid the president doesn’t have any power over death sentences imposed by states, and of course the vast majority of people on death row are there because they committed a state crime, not a federal one. Article II, section 2: “he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” That power applies to federal crimes only.
I will try and make a correction on the site, he could commute everyone on the federal death row no?
you’re talking 60 people vs. over 3,000 in the states.
But those 60 would certainly appreciate a commutation and the President would send a powerful signal and give cover to the other Governors. Never underestimate the power of the Bully Pulpit, you make the same mistake the President does on a daily basis.
Barnette, Marcivicci Aquilia- Killed his ex-girlfriend and another man in a car jacking.
Basham, Brandon -Kidnapped and murdered a 44-year-old woman during his co-defendant’s escape from prison. (Co-defendant with Chadrick Fulks)
Higgs, Dustin -Murdered three women after arguing with one of them in his apartment.
JC, Stop trying to be the criminals friend, these scumbags should be waterboarded every day until they receive their JUST punishment.
Honken, Dustin -Sentenced to death for the muder of two girls, ages 10 and 6 who were witnesses to the murder of their mother; Honken received a life sentence for the mother’s murder.
You and JC want to be this guys friend? Want to protect him from the death penalty? IMO, they can’t throw the switch fast enough.
Is sufficient in a civil society. An EYE for an EYE mentality will make the whole world Blind. I believe but may be mistaken (it wasn’t Gandalf) that was M. Ghandi.
But I will say I am no friend of the criminal. As the grandson of a murder victim I’d prefer that my grandfathers killer, were he ever brought to justice, be forced to live with himself for the rest of his life to contemplate his actions rather than get a a painless and expensive murder from the state supposedly on my behalf. As a fellow Catholic Dan I would hope you would follow the example of our Blessed Holy Father John Paul II who forgave his would be killer and spoke out extensively against the death penalty. I hope we could also follow the example of Nancy Reagan who has pushed for Hinckley’s release and MLK III who forgave James Earl Ray. The death penalty is no form of justice, the high cost, risk of killing an innocent person, and racial disparities should be enough to justify its abolishment, but for me its very personal and something I strongly believe to be immoral on principle.
Which DFW thumps like a typical cafeteria Catholic on issues he is bothered by but ignores chruch teaching here.
Besides the commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill we also have a similar quote from the Bible
Life in prison without parole means the offender will never harm another soul again, it saves the taxpayers money which DFW professes to care about, and the reflection it forces is the greater punishment. Let us not turn convicted killers into the victims of the state.
“…[O]ur recent research shows that each execution carried out is correlated with about 74 fewer murders the following year… The study examined the relationship between the number of executions and the number of murders in the U.S. for the 26-year period from 1979 to 2004, using data from publicly available FBI sources… There seems to be an obvious negative correlation in that when executions increase, murders decrease, and when executions decrease, murders increase…
In the early 1980s, the return of the death penalty was associated with a drop in the number of murders. In the mid-to-late 1980s, when the number of executions stabilized at about 20 per year, the number of murders increased. Throughout the 1990s, our society increased the number of executions, and the number of murders plummeted. Since 2001, there has been a decline in executions and an increase in murders.”
Remember the 2000 race, the Dems compared George W to Pontius Pilote, b/c he executed so many dirtbags in TX. Well, it worked, the data is irrefutable.
Extensive statistical research shows that more than 80% of current heroin addicts drank milk as children.
By the “logic” you claim here, shouldn’t we conclude that drinking milk causes heroin addiction?
HR's Kevin says
Is that guy showing actual statistical correlation? I doubt it.
In any case, the larger arguments against the death penalty are that it is more expensive than life in prison, it results in some small number of innocent people being murdered by the state, it requires someone to actually execute these people, and it means that victim’s families suffer every time the case comes back for death penalty appeals.
Also, if we apply your logic on this site, we would much more aggressively ban trolls from the site, because obviously it would be a huge deterrent to future trolls. So be careful what you argue for… 😉
That is a good school, ain’t it?
HR's Kevin says
It is not intellectually honest to argue a point based on the reputation of the institution at which someone who you have quoted teaches. It also appears that the quote you are citing — which you still haven’t linked to — is from an opinion piece, not actual research results. Just from the part you have quoted, it hardly seems convincing given the immense number of variables that would be involved in murder rates. Without seeing how he controlled for those variables, it would be foolish indeed to put much weight on this statement, but when has that ever stopped you?
FWIW, Summers does teach statistics, so hopefully he knows what he is doing, but he is NOT an expert in crime (he seems to be mostly interested in sports) and could not be expected to really understand the scope of the variables that might affect murder rates. Not convincing in the least….
that you don’t understand the meaning of the word “irrefutable.”
It seems utterly illogical to me that the death penalty would have any significant deterent effect (when compared to life in prison). That said, the only irrefutable argument in this area is that there is no irrefutable data supporting either side. See e.g:
“…[R]esearch to date of the effect of capital punishment on crime is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases, or has no effect on crime rates. Therefore, the committee recommends that these studies not be used to inform deliberations requiring judgments about the effect of the death penalty on crime rates. Consequently, claims that research demonstrates that capital punishment decreases or increases the crime rate by a specified amount or has no effect on the crime rate should not influence policy judgments about capital punishment.” – Daniel S. Nagin, PhD, Professor of Public Policy and Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, and John V. Pepper, PhD, Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia, Deterrence and the Death Penalty, 2012 (a book).
Given your vociferous support of Mr. Lynch, you seem to comfortable with or even supportive of his anti-choice position on abortion.
What “teaching” leads you to that position, and what does that same teaching say about the death penalty?
I suppose I would tend to protect the innocent, even ones who are not even born with the original sin like you and me. But when it comes to vile disgusting crap like the convicted killers I listed above, who slaughtered people like you or I would step on an ant, then I won’t shed a tear if they end up receiving the death penalty.
But you, JC, MC, and the others, go sign that petition, lend support to these people. What you all don’t realize is you are ripping the scabs off the victims families, giving the killers support and hope that they can stall justice, in hopes to convince a POTUS to ignore a jury and judge, and lessen their sentence to jail time.
It isn’t hard to rationalize a desire for vengeance after a crime, humanity was doing it for many thousands of years before the oldest parts of the Old Testament.
The hard part is moving past vengeance and towards justice. I asked you what teaching leads you to your belief. It sounds like your answer is “Teaching? I don’t need no stinking teaching”.
If you read the thread, is that three of us who oppose capital punishment, including the creator of the petition, have stated publicly that we ARE the victim’s families.
In any event, private justice is not legal in this society. Criminals are prosecuted by the state and the private wishes of victims’ families, whatever they be, are not controlling.
Since when does thinking someone shouldn’t be put to death mean they want to be friends?
They are the ones appealing and trying to live, no? The people who sign that petition remind me of the protestors outside the prison, “praying” for the killer, protesting capital punishment.
IMO, helping the Ted Bundy’s of the world is a waste of time, and I find they ain’t worth the waste.
than the thugs who commit murder.
My cousin was murdered when I was in Middle School. She was a teenager at the time. It was absolutely the most devastating thing that ever happened to me in my life and took me a long time to get over.
No matter how vile people like that may be, I will not wish his family to go through what mine did.
I am vehemently against the death penalty precisely because my cousin taught me the value of each and every life.
I have lost three cousins to murder in my lifetime, and I still do not support the death penalty. It’s because, as you say, I value life. And it’s also because I do not believe our criminal justice system is anywhere near as accurate as it would have to be for me to feel comfortable with capital punishment.
Mark L. Bail says
Not life for life, but mass murder, serial killing, terrorist acts resulting in multiple deaths.
Timothy McVeigh was locked up and wasn’t going to commit an act of terrorism again. Similarly James Holmes won’t enjoy his freedom or threaten anyone ever again, but the DA in that case is willing to waste two more years, countless taxpayer dollars, and put the victims through more hellish testimony just to score a cheap political point. Life in prison is no walk in the park, and life without parole is tantamount to a death sentence in my book. The joy, the happiness, the wonder of breathing free air, forming friendships, traveling in the world and earning a keep are taken away from you, and deservedly so. But to me all life is equally precious, and we do these mass murderers a favor when we take theirs away.
Some acts are so heinous that death is the only appropriate justice.
I have the same question for you that I posed for the Walthamite — What religious teachings lead you to oppose abortion, and what do those teachings say about the death penalty?
I get that the crimes you describe are appalling, heinous, and traumatizing to all who know of them. Other than punishing the perpetrator for inflicting that pain on you (the deceased is, after all, beyond pain), what Christian teaching justifies executing a person who is no longer a threat to anybody?
It’s just my personal opinion regarding the death penalty and in a republic the people decide through their elected representatives. I did not invoke religion here, though I will concede that Jesus would probably oppose it. As for abortion, I am pro-choice, as is the United Church of Christ of which I am a member.
Sorry Christopher, I just had a brain-fart. You’ve been articulating pro-choice arguments for years, and I of course also knew that you are a member of the UCC.
I do think there’s an interesting spectrum that emerges from this discussion, which I’ll put in its own post when I get a chance.
It’s not just in fiction that people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. If they’re imprisoned, they can be released; if they’re executed, nothing can right that wrong.
Another man wrongly executed
Are there acts so heinous that executing an innocent person is appropriate?
for a crime (the death of his own children by arson) that forensic science casts significant doubt about whether it was actually arson. There’s no way to put that right.
guy was clearly deranged. Try again.
Willingham was definitely sad. But the death of his 3 kids would do that to any man, not to mention him being wrongly imprisoned for it. That trial was so messed up, the Texas prosecutor used his Iron Maiden (the heavy metal band) poster as evidence that Willingham was evil.
an episode of This American Life, where they tell the story of men who were coerced into confession of rape by the police, just through interrogator mind games–even though they did not commit the crime. And it has the audio of the interrogation of a young boy who is coaxed into confessing that he killed his sister but he did not do it and has no memory of doing it.
because just look at how many people are convicted and spend years incarcerated, then released b/c of new evidence.
We don’t apply capital punishment to every murder case. Only those where there is no doubt, such as Scott Peterson. You want to protect people like him?
You would need absolute evidence beyond all doubt, DNA or the crime caught on tape.
and now I realize I don’t really understand what is meant by justice here.
If you total my car, you can buy me a new one, but, if you kill my brother-in-law, then I’m stuck; there’s no replacing him. In a sense, restorative justice is impossible with murders.
Is it justice then if we make murderers suffer as much emotional pain as we the survivors punish? Somehow we’re even then? Then, the death penalty might be good because it causes lots of emotional anguish. Once one gets into retributive justice, we run up against the desire not to have cruel or unusual punishment — and yet having someone dear to us is cruel and unusual and so retribution has to somehow happen surreptitiously where there’s a lot of suffering but none of it caused by obvious cruelty.
This justice thing doesn’t seem so very clear to me.
Hope they don’t call you a “troll” for supporting the death penalty.
You’ll notice I downrated several of your comments on this thread. Your calling those who absolutely oppose the death penalty on moral grounds friends of murderers is completely uncalled for. You also based on examples you have used support a much more generous application of the death penalty than I do.
… for which heinous act(s) would you, personally, initiate justice by being the very one to pull the trigger? For what crime would you dole out punishment by acting as the hangman? What heinous act would you, securely, serve justice for by pulling the switch and sending juice to the chair?
I am NOT talking about vigilantism: on-your-own sayso and lawless ‘justice’… I’m stipulating guilt and all due process: for which crime, after an honest investigation, righteous apprehension, valid trial, straightforward appeal and thoroughly transparent process would you, personally and directly enact the death sentence?
Mass murder, serial killing, acts of terrorism – or to name names Timothy McVeigh, Charles Manson, Khalid Sheik Mohammed as examples.
Given the significant rate of false convictions, doesn’t it bother you that the death penalty completely removes any possibility of setting an erroneously-convicted man go free?
New Study Places Wrongful Conviction Rate at 5% for Murders, Higher for Sexual Assault
There have been 303 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States.
Note that not all homicides generate any DNA evidence. It’s almost inevitable that some of the people executed were innocent of the crime they were convicted of. This website has a list of people believed to have been wrongfully executed. Each name in the list is a link to a discussion of that case.
The point I’m trying to make is: what if you get the wrong person when you convict someone of one of your heinous crimes? What if he didn’t do it? This absolutely does happen. If you’ve killed him, what does that make you?
I’ve already said that the standard would have to be beyond all (not just reasonable) doubt. Plus, I don’t think anyone in the examples I’ve cited have used the I didn’t do it defense.
The first comment on this thread seems to suggest you’d be okay with somebody else doing it…
I wish to be very clear: You would be personally willing, in each of the instances you listed, in actually pulling the trigger?
I’m not talking about watching someone else do it nor in some abstract notion of ‘sanctioning’ it.
I’m talking about the actual making of the noose, the act of putting it around their neck and the act of kicking the chair out from underneath them… your actions directly resulting in their deaths. Would you do that?
Though my prefered method is injection or gas chamber. However, this is an irrelevant and unfair standard. There are plenty of things that need doing that I personally have no interest in doing myself.
Not at all. After all, somebody has to do it. Somebody has to push the button, or inject the needle… If it has to be done, somebody has to do it. Why not you? And, if not you, who?
Old Testament Jews inflicted corporal punishment corporately by stoning: was that an unfair and irrelevant standard?
Well, which is it? You will do it…? Or you have no interest in doing it yourself…? That’s a big difference. There are lots of things that you need not do… but you might have “no interest” because of inconvenience or logistics or any one of a number of variables that, when faced with a life and death decison, you’d discard without a thought.
Do you ask every prochoice person if they would be the OBGYN to extract the fetus? Or every supporter of euthanasia if they would personally pull the plug? Certainly if there is anyone I’d be willing to kill it would be those examples I have already named. My opinion is no less valid because you don’t like my answer to this question.
That’s honest. I think that it is very hard to kill someone even if you are absolutely certain they deserve it. I think it ought to be very hard to kill someone.
Yes. Why would I not ask them? I think it’s a valid question for anyone who advocates such measures. I’m, personally, opposed to euthanasia but generally consider myself squeamishly pro-choice. I probably wouldn’t want to perform an abortion just because I’d probably pass out (I hated biology class in high school and tried, expertly, to dodge it in college.) so I could never be a good OBGYN, but that’s really an evasion. My wife and I have two children, both conceived out of wedlock, but we never really considered it an option. But we’re upper-middle class with decent salaries, good housing and continued job prospects so I can’t say how the discussions might have gone if are situation had been different.
My point is just that it is no more than opinion, however valid or invalid, until you think harder about it… which is what you’re doing.
The difference between the death penalty and euthanasia or abortion is choice. I voted against legalizing euthanasia, but those that would have used it would have chosen to do so. I am also reluctantly pro-choice, but recognize that as a man who will never face that decision its none of my business and not on my hands. The death penalty, much like unjust war, is on all of our hands. They are killed in our name, by ‘the people’, and I think that makes a big difference. Might there be crimes heinous enough where that is justified? I don’t think so, not when we are all complicit.
To those that agree with me please sign the actual petition. I need 150 signatures for it to be seen by others on the WH website.
See, Even some atheist (who don’t live in Waltham) are opposed to the Death Penalty!.
I’ve also cross linked on Daily Kos and my facebook so hopefully it can hit 150, after that its out of my hands whether it gets the 100k for a response. By the way I encourage everyone to join and browse, the dumb ones get the headlines but some of these have brought obscure issues to policymakers attention.
The Deterrence Hypothesis and Picking Pockets at the Pickpocket’s Hanging
The Money Quote/Abstract
Recent high-profile events have reopened the debate about the value of capital punishment in a just society. This is an important discussion, because the taking of a human life is always a serious matter.
Most commentators who oppose capital punishment assert that an execution has no deterrent effect on future crimes. Recent evidence, however, suggests that the death penalty, when carried out, has an enormous deterrent effect on the number of murders. More precisely, our recent research shows that each execution carried out is correlated with about 74 fewer murders the following year.
For any society concerned about human life, that type of evidence is something that should be taken very seriously.
The study examined the relationship between the number of executions and the number of murders in the U.S. for the 26-year period from 1979 to 2004, using data from publicly available FBI sources. The chart nearby shows the number of executions and murders by year. There seems to be an obvious negative correlation in that when executions increase, murders decrease, and when executions decrease, murders increase.
In the early 1980s, the return of the death penalty was associated with a drop in the number of murders. In the mid-to-late 1980s, when the number of executions stabilized at about 20 per year, the number of murders increased. Throughout the 1990s, our society increased the number of executions, and the number of murders plummeted. Since 2001, there has been a decline in executions and an increase in murders.
It is possible that this correlated relationship could be mere coincidence, so we did a regression analysis on the 26-year relationship. The association was significant at the .00005 level, which meant the odds against the pattern being simply a random happening are about 18,000 to one. Further analysis revealed that each execution seems to be associated with 71 fewer murders in the year the execution took place.
While it is clear that the number of murders is inversely correlated to the number of executions, it is dangerous to infer causal relationships through correlative data. Causation can be a two-way street, but not in the case of capital punishment. It may be logical that more executions could lead to fewer murders, but it is not at all logical that fewer murders could cause more executions.
A second difficulty with strong correlative data is that of timing. Causes should come before effects, so we correlated each year’s executions to the following year’s murders and found the results to be even more dramatic. The association was significant at the .00003 level, which meant the odds against the random happening are longer than 34,000 to one. Each execution was associated with 74 fewer murders the following year.
Die-hard campaigners against capital punishment could argue that there might be yet a third variable, such as a stronger police presence or a population shift to urban areas, related to each of the other two variables. Such a variable might exist, but until it can be identified, Occam’s razor suggests the simplest solution is probably the actual solution. We know that, for whatever reason, there is a simple but dramatic relationship between the number of executions carried out and a corresponding reduction in the number of murders.
The conclusion that each execution carried out is associated with the saving of dozens of innocent lives creates an extraordinarily difficult moral dilemma for those who campaign against the death penalty. Until now, those activists could look into the eyes of a convicted killer, hear his or her sad story, work tirelessly to set aside the execution and, with that goal accomplished, feel good about themselves for having “saved a life.” These data suggest that the moral equation is not nearly that simplistic.
It now seems that the proper question to ask goes far beyond the obvious one of “do we save the life of this convicted criminal?” The more proper question seems to be “do we save this particular life, at a cost of the lives of dozens of future murder victims?” That is a much more difficult moral dilemma, which deserves wide discussion in a free society.
Mr. Adler is a professor of marketing and Mr. Summers is a professor of quantitative methods at Pepperdine University.