Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Criminologists: Death penalty does not deter

Via Capital Defense Weekly, I was interested to see this new survey of top US criminologists (pdf) on the question of whether the death penalty deters murder, a debate refocused by several much-disputed studies (mostly by economists) in the last six years claiming to find a deterrent, after "scores" of studies by criminologists over previous decades had reached the opposite conclusion. The authors analyze recent studies on death penalty deterrence and follow up by replicating a survey of criminologists published 12 years ago, before the recent econometric studies were published.

Despite these new studies, however, most criminologists (88.2%) still "do not believe the death penalty is a deterrent," researchers found, while 87% said abolishing the death penalty would have no effect on murder rates.

A whopping 90.9% thought it was largely or totally accurate that "Politicians support the death penalty as a symbolic way to show they are tough on crime," but 89.5% said it was largely or totally inaccurate that "The death penalty significantly reduces the number of homicides."

The empirical evidence contradicting the deterrence thesis is quite strong. For example, in 2007, the authors note, the homicide rate in states with active death penalty statutes was 42% higher than that of non-death-penalty states. Read the full paper (pdf, 20 pages with appendices) for much more detail and references to research on both sides of the debate.

MORE: From the Dallas News Death Penalty Blog.


Anonymous said...

Well one thing is for certain, the executed murderer won't ever kill again. Sounds like a pretty significant deterrent to me. Wonder how the criminologists can argue against that logic?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:32, perhaps that's because a) long prison sentences serve the same functional purpose and b) murderers have among the lowest recidivism rates of all offenders.

Keep in mind the death penalty is used on one or two dozen people per year in Texas, but in 2007, for example, according to TDCJ's annual report (pdf) Texas state prisons received 1,078 offenders convicted of charges of homicide (p. 18). Just 14 went to death row. So deterring a small handful of people who were statistically unlikely to kill again anyway has a negligible effect on deterrence, especially in a state this large.

Anonymous said...

Who cares! I don't think we needed a study to come to the conclussion that the death penalty does not deter murder. Some murders don't care if they get caught, some don't think they will get caught and others are so full of rage, they are not even considering the consequences. The death penalty is an appropriate PUNISHMENT for someone who murders.

However, I am sure you liberals blame the failed education system for the murders and therefore think the killer should get hooked on phonics and then released!!

Anonymous said...

Not every murder is a capital murder--that is, not every murder qualifies for the death penalty. Using "murder" rates really doesn't get there.

There sure is proven specific deterrence isn't there?

What would you do with convicted murderers who murder again while in prison--sentence them to double secret life???

Deterrence or non-deterrence doesn't really matter--it's just icing. The real issue is justice and the fact that these scumbags through their actions forfeit their right to breath the same air as the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

I always viewed the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for a horrible crime, not as a deterrent. Some crimes deserve the ultimate punishment.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:17 asks, "What would you do with convicted murderers who murder again while in prison"?

I'm personally not actually against the death penalty (contrary to the ignorant statements at 8:52), and that's precisely one of the reasons why.

However, the whole "specific deterrence" thing is self serving and off point. Among criminologists there are several theoretical justifications for sentencing decisions, including punishment (embodied by 9:38's comment), incapacitation (stopping the offender from committing more crimes), and deterrence, which is the effect of the sentence as a public spectacle that might convince others not to offend.

The "specific deterrence" schtick is really an argument for permanent "incapacitation," in the terminology these folks are using. Deterrence is about whether the death penalty reduces future murders by others, which was the claim of the recent econometric studies.

Mark#1 said...

Focus, focus; no, don't chase the shiny ball under the couch. The post and link were discussing the "deterrence" aspect of the death penalty; not the death penalty itself. Knee-jerk reactions whenever one feels his government's right to kill might in some way be interfered with does not advance the argument for the deterrence aspect of the death penalty.

Informed Citizen said...

LAW OF THIS LAND = We hold these Truths to be self-evident. Certain Rights are inalienable, among these LIFE.
Just as slavery was illegal after the enactment of the Law of our Land on July 4, 1776, but tolerated for a period of time. So, too, is STATE execution illegal, but tolerated. It is now time for the Law of our Land to be ENFORCED. It is time for us to DEMAND HONOR from our employees (public servants).
1 - even if death, as a penalty for violating a STATUTORY Law, was a deterrent. It would still be an immoral.
2 - No FREE people, as CITIZENS of a STATE, with knowledge of History, Governments (aka "THE STATE"), Human Nature, would want THE STATE (their government) to exercise that power.
3 - With today's technology applied to building maximum security prisons, there is NO justification for it.
Conclusion, only the Immoral, the Ignorant, and those who are opposed to the Law of this Land, support it.

HumanError said...

The problem with the "ultimate punishment" rationale is: what if the system got it wrong?

Its one thing to lock up an innocent man or woman for life, but its another thing to kill an innocent person. Since the government makes mistakes all the time, and innocent people are convicted of crimes all the time, it seems like life should be the ultimate punishment. I'd rather have a million murders receive life sentences if it means that the one innocent man doesn't get executed.

Anonymous said...

So, Informed Citizen, I guess under your line of reasoning the deceased victim would have a CIVIL cause of action against their killer for violating their right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Some consolation for them!

State sanctioned killing is a matter of public trust. We, as victims and potential victims, trust the state to seek justice--and to an extent vengance--on our behalf. When we can no longer trust the state to obtain justice commensurate with the crime committed, then there is no longer any argument against vigilante justice. Contrary to liberal thought, the victim's do have the right to expect some measure of justice.

As an aside, among many reasons that I don't commit capital murder is the fact that I don't want to be executed. So I guess there is at least some deterrent effect.

RAS said...

Informed Citizen, Why should the victimizer's inalienable right to life be given more respect than he gave to his victim's inalienable right to live? The conviction of innocent people does call for a serious reevaluation of our system.

Anonymous said...

Informed citizen - I don't know what Bill of Rights you are reading from but mine doesn't say that those "life" rights cannot be deprived, albeit by due process of law.

You might find it immoral but it is certainly not illegal or in and of itself unethical.

But as others have commented. The chances of mistake - as have been witnessed in this state lately - are far to great.

While I have no sympathy for a killer to be executed, the thought of a state executing an innocent person is troubling.

Anonymous said...

"The "specific deterrence" schtick...."

It's not a schtick. Deterrence can be broken down into two basic forms, specific and general. This is not some notion that an advocacy group has made up. It's criminology and criminal law 101 and applies across the spectrum to criminal law violations.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

1:43: In the context of its use, which is to say, when the phrase is used to try to take the debate at hand OUT of context, "schtick" is exactly the right word. The same crimlaw 101 class would have taught you the distinction being made.

If you want to debate incapacitation, or to use your preferred phrase, specific deterrence, the real question is the efficacy of the death penalty vs. LWOP, and that means you're at the wrong blog. However Wick Allison over at D Magazine will accommodate you.

Anonymous said...

As I see it the issue boils down to this point: If the death penalty is a GENERAL deterrent, how can we afford not to use it? How could we ever live with ourselves knowing that innocent lives could have been saved and we did nothing to protect them? On the other hand, if the death penalty is not a general deterrent, at worst we've killed some cold blooded killer that a jury decided needed killing anyhow.

Texas Lawyer said...

Does it ever feel like "March of the Straw Men" around here to anyone else?

As for the choice between "specific deterrence" and "incapacitation, Grits is right the latter term is more accurate. The terms are non synonymous; specific deterrence, like general deterrence, operates when the punishment makes that particular offender choose not to commit crimes anymore. Incapacitation actually prevents them from doing it.

So if you are referring to the truism that someone who is dead doesn't commit crimes, then you are citing the incapacitation effect.

As for specific deterrence, I would think it might work the opposite way. Following 9:17's reasoning, I wonder how you keep someone sentenced to death from killing (or committing other intraprison crimes) in the interim?

Also - - the economists seem very irresponsible to make claims, such as those described in the linked article, that every time a court vacates a death sentence, 1 additional homicide occurs. I think it's great that people have exposed the flaws in the "studies" that are used in those crazy arguments.

Anonymous said...

Informed Citizen:

The Constitution is the Law of This Land, is it not?

It specifically contemplates the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

It's a very interesting topic. I'm surprised that the number of criminologists who believe are so low, but not shocked. Most of the criminologists I knew when I was at UT were very liberal people influenced by sociology.

I have heard that economists are much more rigorous in their use of statistics and certainly more so than most "Texas Lawyers".

As I trust economists more than criminologists on this issue, I believe the possibility that it creates general deterrence is very high.

Anonymous said...

The executed capital murderer cannot kill again. OTOH, the capital murderer whose death sentence is commuted to life might get out and kill again like Kenneth McDuff.

Anonymous said...

The main criminology group is the American Society of Criminology, which had one policy statement. This of course, is being against the death penalty for a number of reasons. The simple facts don't support the death penalty for any practical reasons. Costs more money; doesn't deter to a measurable degree; innocent people have been executed, which can't be undone. I am a relatively conservative criminologist, but I haven't found much reason to support the death penalty other than in a few unique situations.

Texas Lawyer said...

7:57 - I can't say which profession is "much more rigorous in their use of statistics" but I'd encourage you to read the linked article, especially pages 495-ff. describing the critiques of the econometric theories. Does that sound like work that is "much more rigorous"?

Anonymous said...

"Well one thing is for certain, the executed murderer won't ever kill again.."

Yeah, but for every one you murder, there are 100 to take his/her place. Don't fool yourself..

I do find it funny though that Europe has no death penalty, yet they have an incredibly LOW crime rate... something to think about folks.

Hook Em Horns said...

Anonymous said...

I do find it funny though that Europe has no death penalty, yet they have an incredibly LOW crime rate... something to think about folks.

6/17/2009 10:39:00 PM

Texans don't care about Europe. They don't care about the 40 DNA exonerations that MUST cast doubt on the validity of ALL criminal convictions in this state including those on death row. They just flat don't care.

Anonymous said...

The death penalty debate is not about wheter or not it is a deterrence. Those who oppose the death penalty attempt to make that the focus of their argument; however, people like me could care less whether it deters or not. If you kill somebody and are charged with capital murder, you deserve to die.

Those who oppose the death penalty like to speak about the death penalty from a distance. They never want to talk about the woman that was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered, that is to personnel. It is easy talk about data and statistics and whether it deters or not, but when you put a name and face to the brutal murder, it is a little different.

Anonymous said...

"They never want to talk about the woman that was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered,"

If this were a daily occurrence, then I might be able to see some of your point. The fact is, a very few number of murderers are in prison for that situation. The over sensationalism by the media does not out do the fact that crimes such as this one are extremely rare.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this right to make sure I understand your point. If the woman is murdered, the death penalty should not be considered; however, if he rapes and tortures her prior to the murder then it makes the death penalty a more viable option. Please!

And by the way, the death penalty is not a daily occurrence either.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"when you put a name and face to the brutal murder, it is a little different."

Each of the 1,064 prisoners convicted of homicide who entered TDCJ in 2007 who did NOT go to death row had victims whose families loved them and missed them just as much as those killed by the 14 who went to death row. They're every one a tragedy.

You may not care about deterrence, 10:49, but it was death penalty PROPONENTS who were putting out the econometric studies trying to make the deterrence argument, so somebody thinks it's important to fight over that ground. As Texss Lawyer said, you should really read the linked document's discussion of them before relying on them too heavily.

My biggest beef with the death penalty is that the issue sucks all the oxygen out of the room and shifts the conversation away from more important topics. For example, maybe 20 a year or so get executed in Texas, on average, but 40 a month or more die in Texas prisons, often (as in the case of Timothy Cole) as a direct or indirect result of piss-poor health care. By comparison, though, there's relatively little talk of the much larger source of in-prison deaths because the death penalty hits a Culture War nerve that makes people's brains turn off on both sides of the debate.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:56 pm said:

"They never want to talk about the woman that was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered,"

"If this were a daily occurrence, then I might be able to see some of your point. The fact is, a very few number of murderers are in prison for that situation. The over sensationalism by the media does not out do the fact that crimes such as this one are extremely rare."

This IS an almost daily occurrence in Texas! Especially in the border area of TEXAS!

Get your facts straight!

Common sense cop

sunray's wench said...

Grits said: "Each of the 1,064 prisoners convicted of homicide who entered TDCJ in 2007 who did NOT go to death row had victims whose families loved them and missed them just as much as those killed by the 14 who went to death row. They're every one a tragedy."

And the majority of the 1064 prisoners convicted of murder ALSO had families who love and miss them. Somtimes, the victim's family is also the offender's family. For those 1064, the death penalty was not a deterrent to stop them killing someone else. It probably wasn't a deterrant to stop them commiting another offence at the time of the murder which would have made it a capital offence. This is because most murders are a culmination of individual circumstances upon an individual human - and humans don't always sit and think things through before they act or open their mouths. Murder is rarely as black and white as some suggest.

Informed Citizen said...

RESPONSE to 11:35:00 AM, and others.
When a people are so dumbed down they allow an artificial entity they created (THE STATE / government) to murder them, the CITIZEN, the Citizes (public) have lost control of that which they created. What they created will KILL them, and claim it is "necessary" for "justice", when the TRUTH is THE STATE is doing so to OPPRESS the people and Citizens of the Land. To ENSLAVE them. Those who learn history know this to be true. And it can even be very RECENT history. Example - Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, Iraq under Sadaam Hussien.
The duty of THE STATE (government) is to provide the Individual on this Land with the PROTECTION of THE LAW. -----------
The LAW protects the Individual. First and foremost it protects the LIFE of the Individual FROM THE STATE. Secondly, from vigilantes. The people can protect their own life, if allowed to do so.
Justice is is NOT punishment. Nor is Justice what one considers "commeserate" with the wrong. It is "redress" for the wrong, which is less than commeserate (equal) to the wrong, and "remedy" to the extent recovery of the loss or compensation for the injury can be made. Those who view "justice" as punishment have a very perverted view of justice and do not realize they are putting their own self at the risk of being subject to the same kind of justice they advocate. Only the ignorantly arrogant, self-rightious, falsely believing they can never "wrong" another, are somehow "perfect", want "commeserate" justice.
The LAW OF THE LAND was given by our Law-Givers who stood as Moses does in the Bible for the Nation of Hebrews. It was enacted on July 4, 1776 by the duly authorized legislative body representing this Nation of People known as Americans. It was ratified by more than simply a vote. It was ratified by a BLOOD SACRIFICE to "the laws of nature and nature's God". In honor for their sacrifice for us, the posterity, I support that law against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC.
The Law of July 4 1776 stands as SUPREME over the Constitution and all other Laws, including those of Congress and State Legislative bodies, and Juries. WHY? Because it is based on TRUTH. Truth deemed by our Law Givers, representing both GOD and WE THE PEOPLE, as SELF-EVIDENT. In deed, it is a "self-evident truth" that an Individual has a RIGHT to Life, endowed upon them by THEIR creator (they were NOT created by "THE STATE"). A LIFE is a RIGHT that no STATE (government) or jury, can LAWFULLY, or ETHICALLY, alienate from another, by Law or Color of Law. The only exception is when it must be done in self defense of your own life or another. Self Defense is NOT necessary when a Human Person is in custody / imprisoned.
SORRY, 11:35:00 AM, the STATE was NOT created to satisfy your blood lust or arrogant hubris or vengeful desires. YOUR desire to MURDER through the hands of the STATE is misguided, due to a lack of an ability to exercise rational control of your emotions, or due to cowardness.

Only the ignorant or COWARDS support the death penalty. Or those that want to exercise an UNlawful control over others. Those that want to MURDER, but cover it with the excuse they are doing so to prevent / deter murder.

The time may come when WE THE PEOPLE, will have to kill the insurgents and rebels that have invaded what we created - THE STATE - and used it to kill our fellow Citizens, in violation of the LAW OF THE LAND. They have waged a war against our LAW OF THE LAND, and our Constitution created "to secure the blessing of liberty". LIBERTY being the PROTECT of the Law, not "punishment" under the color of protecting or in the name of "victim rights". Under that excuse, we have ALL become victims of THE STATE and those who are its hands, living at public expense.

Anonymous said...

Grits, the fact that the death penalty debate "sucks all the oxygen out of the room" is not the fault of death penalty proponents. the vast majority of the population in this country has been relatively comfortable with the death penalty for more than two centuries. Instead, the debate took on a life of its own when all the bleeding hearts and lovelorn European women began to treat death row inmates as political prisoners or celebraties instead of the vile, heinous criminals that they really are. These are not your "average" murderers who exists in General Population who might have killed in the heat of passion or in a momentary lapse of judgment. Instead they are, for the most part, sociopaths who committed brutal homicides under circumstances that made their crimes "the worst of the worst," e.g., murder of a young child, murder during a rape, murder for hire, murder of a police officer in the line of duty, multiple murders, etc. There is no serious reason why any debate regarding the lives of these killers needs to "suck to oxygen out of the room." State sanctioned killing is accepted in all sorts of circumstances, i.e., war, self defense, and even abortion if you want to open that can of worms. Ultimately, the only legitimate concern about the death penalty is the the concern over the possibility of executing an innocent. To my knowledge, the anti-death penalty establishment in Texas has been unable to unearth that "holy grail." While any number of individuals have been released from death row for various reasons--trial error, mental retardation, etc.. I would challenge anyone to provide the name of any truly "innocent" subject who has been executed in this state.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:52 writes: "I would challenge anyone to provide the name of any truly "innocent" subject who has been executed in this state."

Cameron Willingham is probably the best example. See here (pdf) an independent peer review of the junk science used to convict him of setting the fire that killed his children.

Nationally, 2.3% of those sent to death row were later exonerated.

As for saying the sour nature of the debate is not proponents' "fault," that's BS, and I'm sick of fingerpointing about whose "fault" it is. It's definitely both. The overweening zeal and repetitive, dumb culture war cliche's ("bleeding hearts," etc.) trotted out on every comment string on the topic - "chasing the shiny ball under the couch," as 10:39 colorfully put it - proves that, for sure.

Basically people don't have a discussion on this issue, they just treat it as a marker to decide who's on their team. We are all dumber for having to endure the resulting debate.

Informed Citizen said...

6/18/2009 08:52:00 AM wrote:
State sanctioned killing is accepted in all sorts of circumstances, i.e., war, self defense, and even abortion.
War, Self-Defense, and abortion are NOT "State sanctioned killing". The flaw in your logic is the presumption that THE STATE (government) creates Humans and then gives Humans permission to do, or not to do. -----
" the Laws of Nature and Natur's God" (quoting the self-evident truth of our Moses, Thomas Jefferson, and the other founders_ created Humans. Humans then created THE STATE (government). The STATE operates by "consent of the governed". That "consent" is limited by the supreme Law of the Land. Sometimes ignorant Judicial Officials and ignorant juries violate that law. Thus they give "color of law" to a murder carried out by THE STATE. But it remains an unlawful act, in violation of the supreme Law of the Land, and an immoral act, in violatin of "the laws of nature and nature's God".
War is not a "state sanctioned killing". The supra STATE, known as the UNITED NATIONS, authorizes an action to enforce International Law against a rogue STATE. The only killing authorized is what is immediately necessary by a UN soldier in performance of his order to bring a STATE into compliance with International Law.
The UN police / soldier has a duty to detain those who are a threat to him, and others, rather than kill them - if at all possible.
Executions by THE STATE are illegal and immoral, even if they have been 'tolerated' or, in other words, allowed without redress imposed upon the perpetrators of this offense against the supreme Law of this Land.

Benedict Sez said...

"Ultimately, the only legitimate concern about the death penalty is the the concern over the possibility of executing an innocent."

Tell that to the Pope! Choose Life! :)

Don't forget if Sotomayor is confirmed there will be six Catholics on the Supreme Court: Bad for Roe v. Wade but also for the death penalty.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Informed, you may believe executions are immoral, but they are not illegal. Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Informed Citizen said...

Grits, thanks for the retort.
But what we are talking about is NOT a difference of opinion. What we are talking about is opposition to immutable law that existed before the Law of our Land was established, and codified in the Law of our Land July 4, 1776..........................
The LAW that is relevant existed BEFORE humans were able to write law. It is a Law of Nature. The Life of a Human Person is a FACT and that LIFE is a gift from "the laws of nature and nature's God" and no one, and no entity, has any legal right to deprive the person of it. They might do so but it remains an illegal, as well as immoral, act unless necessary for self-defense and defense of other life. Which is NOT necessary if detention is an option and serves the purpose of self-defense.
It is a self-evident truth, therefore a FACT, the death penalty is not lawful.
In fact; the justification used for committing the unlawful act is that the victim committed the unlawful act.
2 wrongs do not make a right.
2 illegal acts do not make either act legal.
THE STATE is not "the law" nor is it ABOVE the law. Even if it, by and through its actors, gets away with violating the Law that created it and intended to bind it. ..................
Some think that if a crime is not prosecuted, then no crime has been committed. No. It's still a crime, even if each and every public servant refuses to do their duty to serve the people by preserving, protecting, and defending the law.
The perpetrators of this crime can plead ignorance of the Law. They can make their case before God in the afterlife. Maybe he will show them mercy. As for me; I will tell them honestly, bluntly, directly. STATE executions are a CRIME, and OFFENSE, against the supreme Law of this Land. Even if a cabal of black robed public servants sitting in OUR US Supreme Court refuse to acknowledge it and use their trade craft (manipulation of words to make illogical reasoning appear logical) to allow the crime, the offense, the treason by those who have a duty to know better, to continue to violate the law.
The EXCUSE always used by THE STATE, - ANY 'STATE' (government)by and through those licesed to practice law, and/or wearing a black robe while living off the expense of the public, has always been the SAME. They claim it is a "difference of opinion" when they violate the Law, to evade the fact that they are the ones committing an offense against BOTH the Laws of God and the Laws of Man.

Anonymous said...

"So let me get this right to make sure I understand your point. If the woman is murdered, the death penalty should not be considered; however,..."

No that is not my point at all. My point was that generalizing something such as the rape, torture, and murder of a woman (or man/child) brings no more credibility to the argument for the death penalty. It simply takes information that is blown out of proportion by news media and elected officials and attempts to justify something that is used far too often. Although the death penalty is not 'a daily occurrence' as you state, the state of Texas has murderer 16 people already this year, and only three of those were for a similar offense as your stated. in 2008, 18 were put to death, of which 6 were of that same class. and in 2007 26 people were put to death in Texas. Now I am not saying that these were not bad people. Matter of fact, I must admit some of them deserved death for the crime they committed, however I believe again that the death penalty should NOT be used if murder (proven as murder and not manslaughter) is not proven as the motive that drove them to commit the crime. if a drug deal goes bad and the bullets start flying, I am opposed to the death sentence, that as well as death penalty for rapists. There is no excuse to put to death anyone that didn;t have motivation to commit murder in the first place.

Informed Citizen said...

Question for Grits & others:
Was the execution of the Jews, and others convicted by the STATE of Germany, legal?
Under the Law of THE STATE, it was. The Decisional Law of the Neuremburg trials, now part of INTERENATIONAL Law, and part of our "supreme Law of the Land", says it was not. Nor was the excuse of "just following orders" by those who carried out the lawful orders.
Difference of Opinion? Difference of Facts?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:54/Common Sense Cop, no get your facts straight. The rape, torture, and murder of women is NOT a daily occurrence. If that were the case, the population of women in this state would have moved away along ago. an as far as the border area, sorry but you cannot factually state on which side it occurred.

Saying that, I must admit raping, torturing, and killing someone is one of the most heinous acts I can think of, however the overtly inaccurate message being sent is what has created the panic amongst the population.

By your accounts, there were 365 women at the border last year raped, tortured, and murdered? (all three)..

The day I heard of Rubin Cantu I stopped believing in the process.

Hook Em Horns said...

Anonymous said...

I would challenge anyone to provide the name of any truly "innocent" subject who has been executed in this state.

6/18/2009 08:52:00 AM


sunray's wench said...

Just for the record, I am a European woman, and I am NOT anti-death penalty.

Anonymous said...

The elimination of the Jews from Nazi Germany was codified as eliminating them from the economy, and taking their property. I cannot find German law stating that it was legal to execute/kill Jews. The Final Solution (Hitler) was executed in secret from the general German population, although I am sure that it was common knowledge by the end of the war.

Anonymous said...

Until 1941 there had been plans to "cleanse" Germany of Jews by gathering them together and expelling them from the Reich. One plan had as its goal the transfer of Germany's Jews to Madagascar. A contingent of Jews had even been moved to southern France in preparation. However, wartime conditions and the presence of millions of Jews in Poland, the Soviet Union, and other occupied areas in Eastern Europe gradually led to the adoption of another plan: the systematic extermination of all Jews who came under German control. Techniques that had been developed for the regime's euthanasia program came to be used against Jews. Discussions in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference on the outskirts of Berlin led to the improved organization and coordination of the program of genocide.

Killing came to be done in an efficient, factorylike fashion in large extermination camps run by Himmler's Special Duty Section (Sonderdienst--SD). The tempo of the mass murder of Jewish men, women, and children was accelerated toward the end of the war. Hitler's preoccupation with the "final solution" was so great that the transport of Jews was at times given preference over the transport of war matériel. Authorities generally agree that about 6 million European Jews died in the Holocaust. A large number (about 4.5 million) of those killed came from Poland and the Soviet Union; about 125,000 German Jews were murdered.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking there's a little bit of a distinction between the Jews killed in the Holacaust and our capital murderers on death row who have been furnished a trial by jury, innumerable appeals, and more expensive due process than exists in any other type of litigation.

As for those who argue all life is "sacred," ....well, at least I respect that position. It's genuine and not like that of many death penalty opponents who have been looking for some popular "cause" to be associated ever since we pulled out of Hanoi.

As for Cantu and Willingham, it's one thing to question the quality of the proof that was used to convict, the concept of actual innocence in a far different matter. One just means you should not have been found "guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt. The other means you really didn't do it. I've yet to see one of those in Texas.

Charlie O said...

The death penalty is not or will ever be "justice." It is revenge by the state, pure and simple. And to Anonymous the death penalty advocate. what are you, some kind of coward, you must post anonymously?

Informed Citizen said...

This is an interesting debate.
What is referred to as "the death penalty" is, more properly, a question of whether or not EXECUTIONS by THE STATE is LEGAL.
I assert it is not legal. It is an offense against the Laws of God, the Laws of Nature, the Laws of Man, and the supreme Law of our Land.
It is an illegal act, as well as an immoral act, and THE STATE gets away with it because the CITIZENS of this Nation are ignorant and foolish and do not have the courage to DEMAND compliance with the Law and HONOR from our Public Servants who act as 'the hands of THE STATE'.
Executions of a CITIZEN, by THE STATE, is a threat to every CITIZEN. ----------
Some refuse to be blind to this threat to their own saftey. It is a comfortable denial of reality. They prefer to believe their STATE, and the 'system of laws' by which THE STATE operates, is infallible. Even if the Facts are not subject to any reasonable question, they will still assert that it was simply a "question of the quality of the proof". The proof, in the case of Cantu, is beyond question by any reasonable person who is not blinded by a lack of objectivity because they simply don't want to accept the fact that their government, and most of its functionaries (public servants) through which it operates, are incompetent, dishonorable, self-serving, and even psycho-sociopaths who are smart enough to know that employment at public expense as a public servant, under the cover of a license for employment in law enforcement, a license to practice law and/or employment were one wears a black robe, is the best hiding place for committing serial murder and other crimes with impunity.
LOOK UP the history channel documentary titled "HITLER'S HENCHMEN". It is an expose of the Judiciary of THE STATE. The Jews were guilty of a statutory offense. Their Innocence was not Actual. Many of them, and the other HALF of those who were executed or died in the prisons of THE STATE (referred to as 'concentration camps' in an attempt to make them something other than what they were) were given 'due process of law'. They were given trials, including appeals, but their 'actual guilt' remained. Their 'innocence' was not 'actual' even though they were 'innocent' of committing any wrong or harm to another human.
Under our system of law, if there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt, then the innocence of the accused is actual. Why? Because it is NOT the duty of the accused citizen to prove their actual innocence. And a conviction is NOT a finding of 'actual guilt'. All that is required is 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt' for a penal sanction to be imposed. The 'actual innocence' of the convicted is a gift from God that comes with the breath of life God, or Nature as their creator, endowed the human with.
They may be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But their innocence remains actual until they die a natural death and then God, alone, can make the determination of whether or not their guilt was 'actual' because God alone knows.

RESPECTFULLY, in defense of 'self-evident truths' and the supreme Law of the Land, Informed Citizens hopes to inform fellow Citizens of the threat to their safety posed by THE STATE, by and through the incompetent arrogance or dishonorable malfeasance of the hands through which it functions.

Anonymous said...

Grits said - "We are all dumber for having to endure the resulting debate."

(and the all caps is for you Informed Citizen)


Hook Em Horns said...

Anonymous said...

As for Cantu and Willingham, it's one thing to question the quality of the proof that was used to convict, the concept of actual innocence in a far different matter. One just means you should not have been found "guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt. The other means you really didn't do it. I've yet to see one of those in Texas.

6/18/2009 01:47:00 PM

Since the only person who knows whether or not they actually "did" the crime is the accused, finding out whether they "really did it" will NOT be determined in a Texas court. This is not what our justice system is about.

The "concept" of guilt or innocence, as you call it, is determined using imperfect means of witnesses, evidence and in some cases, better DNA evidence.

As hard as it is for you to swallow Cantu and Willingham are most likely innocent and they died at Huntsville in "our name". Regardless of the "concept" the fact remains that innocent people have died in the Texas death chamber and it is possible that more will die before common sense prevails.

George said...

I support the death penalty for two reasons.

First, there are crimes so monstrous and such an egrigious violation of the social contract that death is the only just sentence. Timonthy McVeigh, for example, was surely a criminal who deserved death.

Second, elimination of the death penalty is not the end game for the European-inspired criminologist. Once the death penalty is dropped, life without parole will become the next crime against humanity. In short, some guilty criminals must be put to death to ensure that all life without parolers stay behind bars until they expire.

sunray's wench said...

George ~ I'm not so sure that LWOP would be the next target as you put it. I think if the death penalty was ever universally rejected, focus would be more on the conditions that inmates are held in, and the huge variations by state and country. Some states think it is ok to keep their inmates out in the sun until they die of heat exhaustion, and other states think it is a better idea to have single-person cells and real education and rehabilitation programmes.

LWOP is often the suggestion of anti-DP campaigners, and it would be very difficult for them to justify doing away with that option as well, except in the case of children.

Adrienne Dunn said...

Sadly, this is not new news. I represent Texas inmates on death row on writs of habeas corpus. Like many death row inmates in general, most of my clients are mentally and psychologically disadvantaged. They have no idea what crimes qualify for the death penalty. During jury selection, many citizens express the incorrect belief that capital murder means premediated murder. Lawyers in Texas often describe capital murder as "murder plues" meaning murder plus something else. In most cases, the something else is a separate crime (robbery, sexual assault). Other cases, the something else is the status of the victim (police officer or child under 6). Premediatation is simply not an element of captial murder. So my point is this, if average citizens do not know what crimes qualify for the death penalty, how can mentally and pyschogically diadvantaged people know what future crimes will get them on death row?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 05:00 how was that poor guy to know that if he raped her before he killed her he might qualify for the death penalty? Give him a break. He was just doing his thing and wasn't even thinkin about no death penalty.

dudleysharp said...

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Game over? Not quite.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SNIPPED - Full reply at

dudleysharp said...

To Adrienne Dunn:

It is a good thing that potential murderers don't know how limited death penalty eligible murders are.

There was an escape in Texas whereby they didn't murder or rape the transporting guards because on of the escapees told the other prisoners that rape was a death penalty eligible crime.

That is a good thing.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Dudley, looks to me like you agree with the survey results when they agree with you and ignore or seek to discredit them when they don't.

dudleysharp said...

Nope. I read the survey and the replies.

Quite clear.

dudleysharp said...


If you thin k I have misinterpreted the survey questions, statements or answers, I would be happy to review them, with you, in this forum.

If you think any of the statements or questions and answers I wrote were in error, I would be happy to, speciifcally, review those, as well.

dudleysharp said...


You said you were going to respond to my 7/5 11:29 comment.

Did you do so somewhere else?

In additon, for some clarity on important issues.

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

The 130 (now 135) death row "innocents" scam

dudleysharp said...

Scott and I had an exchange, offline, which I asked permission to post. I never got it.

So, here are my comments, slightly edited, to make sense to those not part of the discussion.

Scott, to be specific "Addiction, personal circumstances, competing motivations and many other factors" do not "complicate" my "truism.".

That presumption is, likely, just one of your errors.

All of those things are in the mix, always, they are constants, as are many other things. It is inclusive of all of those things, not exclusive of them, which establishes a truism.

For example, what is the biggest deterrent?

Overwhelmingly, I find it to be morality.

The overwhelming majority of people find that it is wrong to rape and/or murder folks, for example. Regardless of all personal circumstances, the overwhelming majority of people won't commit those acts because of an internal mechanism which says STOP or that's wrong, etc.

I find several other things, likely, also, deter more than criminal sanction.

I this debate, however, the variable, among all of the constants, that we are looking at is the death penalty.

Are there cases where the death penalty deters potential murderers, when other potential deterrents were not effective enough. Certainly. It is the same with all criminal sanctions.

First, Scott, I think we agree. You just can't see it.

I, specifically, mentioned that the social sciences cannot be depended upon for any final answers. There will always be challenges.

However, did you read my general comment of incentives and what they mean to folks?

Incentives are the issue with economists. What gets us to do, or not do, certain things. It is, strictly, the basis for human actions. Sure many disagree with economists ' methodology and results. Many agree.

However, none disagree that incentives are very important to human actions. None disagree that negative outcome/consequences effect behavior.

Or, none rational disagree.

Secondly, I contradict the anti death penalty material, for many reasons. A very important public policy issue deserves that both sides be presented, or at least, a portion of both sides.

If the media did it, I wouldn't. They don't and won't.

I speak to reporters and editors, on and off the record, quite often. In many cases they affirmatively do not present the pro death penalty side. It is an obvious decision.

Should any public policy issue be treated that way by the fourth estate? Of course not.

Does the truth matter? Of course. Do you and I and many believe that both sides should always be presented so that the public can be fully informed and to make informed decisions on both important and minor public policy issues? Of course.

And, what if that isn't being done? Then what?

On "trusims", what you discuss was corrected by science. I am speaking strictly of reason. You are the only one I have encountered that challenged my trusim - that all prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter some.

That's OK but your challenge was based upon "More true", which you never defined and which I found humorous. Do better. Be specific.

I suspect, I am invovled in the death penalty debate for the same reason you have a blog. Your bog is, mainly, a source of information and discussion.

Thank you for it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Dudley, right after we had that exchange my niece was in a terrible, ultimately fatal accident. She spent three weeks in ICU before passing and I was distracted and never got back to our discussion. Sorry 'bout that.

dudleysharp said...


You need be sorry for nothing.

May God, somehow, bless you and keep you sound at such a terrible passing.

My prayers for you, your niece and family.

I am, terribly, sorry.

Most sincerely, Dudley