Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Help Make the Death Penalty History

From the ACLU:

The death penalty is the ultimate denial of civil liberties. Over the past 30 years, over 100 wrongfully convicted people were released from death row. The legislature is expected to vote on S163 to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life without parole before the end of the year.

State officials and opinion leaders have finally acknowledged what advocates have said for years, the death penalty is a public policy disaster that is expensive, discriminatory, cruel and immoral. In January, the New Jersey Death Penalty Commission issued a report that found that the death penalty costs more than life in prison and doesn't deter crime.

New Jersey reinstated the death penalty in 1982 but hasn't executed anyone since 1963. Currently eight people sit on New Jersey's death row. The Legislature imposed an execution moratorium in December 2005 when it formed the commission that studied the death penalty.

If approved by lawmakers and Governor Corzine, New Jersey would be the first state to legislatively abolish capital punishment since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976. Capital punishment is in force in 38 states. If the measure passes, New Jersey would be the 13th state with no death penalty.

Contact your legislators and Governor Corzine today to support an end to the death penalty in New Jersey.

From Senator Raymond Lesniak

Repeal the death penalty

A few months ago I hosted a reception at my home in Elizabeth to welcome back Brian Halsey to the community. Brian spent 19 years in prison for murdering an 8 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. The boy was sexually assaulted, large nails were hammered into his brain and his face was slashed with scissors. The girl was brutally raped, beaten, and strangled to death. He confessed to the crime and failed a polygraph test.

Only one juror refused to vote to sentence Halsey to death. 19 years later DNA evidence proved Halsey did not commit the crime.

There are hundreds of Brian Halseys throughout the United States who were wrongly convicted of murder. No doubt, some were sentenced to death and executed. You can't say it can't happen in New Jersey. It can. It's impossible for human beings to devise a system free of the risk of human error.


It's difficult to think of a more heinous crime than the Halsey case. Yet we almost made a fatal mistake. A mistake for which there is no cure. Despite the wonders of science, we have not found a way to bring someone back from the dead.

There are some who believe that keeping the death penalty is worth the risk of killing an innocent person. I don't. But the possibility of killing an innocent person is not the only reason to do away with the death penalty.

Think of the families of the victims. While we did hear testimony before the Judiciary Committee in favor of the death penalty from a wife and a mother who had their loved ones murdered , we also heard from dozens of others who were against the death penalty. Most stated that the lengthy appeal process brought extra and unnecessary suffering into their lives.

Simple solution. Shorten the appeal process. Not so simple. The lengthy appeal process is necessary to decrease the chance of executing an innocent person.

Then there's the cost of the death penalty. To me, it's the weakest reason to repeal the death penalty, but it should be noted that the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission reported that the costs of the death penalty are greater than the costs of life in prison without parole.

More important is the waste of money and law enforcement officers' time spent investigating and proving the factors necessary in a death penalty case. Money and time that could be put to better use fighting gangs, gun runners and drug dealers.

There are those who would single out types of crimes, like child sexual abuse and types of victims, like police officers, or children, or senior citizens, to keep the penalty of death. But an innocent person can be sentenced to death under any of these exceptions.

Some would keep the death penalty for terrorists. Yet terrorists are the least concerned with the death penalty. They blow themselves up and fly planes into buildings. Being executed would only serve to make them martyrs in the eyes of their followers. They belong in jail for the rest of their lives without any chance of parole.

Thousands of murders have been committed in New Jersey since I voted to reinstate the death penalty in 1982. Only a handful of those murders resulted in a death sentence. What makes those sentenced to death different from the others? Nothing, other than the sentence of death itself.

Repealing the death penalty under the legislation before you today will put more murderers in jail for the rest of their lives, relieve victims' families of added pain and suffering and allow law enforcement officials to concentrate more on gangs, gun runners and drug dealers.

Repealing the death penalty will also guarantee that we will not execute an innocent person.

The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has a death penalty, keeping company with the likes of Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Afghanistan. Let's change the company we keep starting here in New Jersey.

13 comments:

dudleysharp said...

REPORT: NJ Death Penalty Commission Made Significant Errors
by Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

from http://www.hallnj.org/cm/listing.jsp?cId=3

Summary

The New Jersey Death Penalty Commission made significant errors within their findings. The evidence, contrary to the Commissions findings, was so easy to obtain that it appears either willful ignorance or deception guided their report.

A brief review.

Below, are the 7 points made within the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission Report, January, 2007. The RUBUTTAL presents the obvious points avoided by the Commission and discussed by this author, a death penalty expert.

I was invited to be a presenter, before the NJDPSC, but my time didn't fit their schedule.

1) There is no compelling evidence that the New Jersey death penalty rationally serves a legitimate penological intent.

REBUTTAL:

- The reason that 81% of Americans found that Timothy McVeigh should be executed was justice - the most profound concept in criminal justice, as in many other aspects of life. It is the same reason that New Jersey citizens, 12 jurors, put all those on death row.

- Although the Commission and the NJ Supreme Court both attempt to discount deterrence, logically, they cannot.

First, all prospects for a negative outcome deter some. This is not, logically or historically rebutted. It cannot be. Secondly, those studies which don't find for deterrence, do not say that it doesn't exist, only that their study didn't find it. Those studies which find for deterrence did. 16 recent studies do.

- The Commission had ample opportunity and, more importantly, the responsibility to read and contact the authors of those many studies which have, recently, found for deterrence. There seems to be no evidence that they did so. On such an important factor as saving innocent lives, why didn't they? The testimony before the Commission, critical of those studies, would not withstand a review by the authors of those studies. That should be an important issue that the Commission should have investigated, but did not.

- LIFE WITHOU PAROLE: The Commission considered the risk of innocents executed and concluded that it wasn't worth the risk and that a life sentence would serve sufficiently without that risk to innocents.

Again, the Commission avoided both fact and reason. The risk to innocents is greater with a life sentence than with the death penalty.

First, we all know that living murderers, in prison, after escape or after improper release, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers - an obvious truism ignored by the Commission.

Secondly, no knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law. Therefore, it is logically conclusive, that actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.

Thirdly, there has been a recent explosion of studies finding for death penalty deterrence. The criticism of those studies has, itself, been rebutted.

- Therefore, in choosing a life without parole and calling for the end of the death penalty, the Commission has made the choice to put more innocents at risk - the opposite of their stated rationale.


2) The costs of the death penalty are greater than the costs of life in prison without parole, but it is not possible to measure these costs with any degree of precision.

REBUTTAL:

- For the amount of time and resources allegedly expended by the Commission, this section of their review was unconscionable in its lack of responsibility to the Commission's directive.

- The Commission concludes that the current system in New Jersey is very expensive, without noting the obvious ways in which those issues can be addressed to lessen those costs. Why?

One example, they find that proportionality review cost $93, 000 per case. Why didn't the Commission recommend doing away with proportionality review? There is no reason, legally, to have it and it has been a disaster, cost wise, with no benefit.

Secondly, the Commission states: "Nevertheless, consistent with the Commission's findings, recent studies in states such as Tennessee, Kansas, Indiana, Florida and North Carolina have all concluded that the costs associated with death penalty cases are significantly higher than those associated with life without parole cases. These studies can be accessed through the Death Penalty Information Center." (Report, page 33).

On many topics the Death Penalty Information Center has been one of the most deceptive or one sided anti death penalty groups in the country. While it is not surprising that the Commission would give them as a reference, multiple times, it doesn't speak well of the Commission.

Did the Commission read any of the studies referenced by the DPIC? It appears doubtful, or the Commission would not have referenced them.

For example, let's look at the North Carolina (Duke University) study. That cost study compared the cost of only a twenty year "life sentence" to the death penalty. Based upon that study, a true life without parole sentence would be more costly than the death penalty. Somehow the Commission missed that rather important fact.

These types of irresponsible and misleading references by the Commission do nothing to inspire any confidence in their findings, but do reinforce the opinion that their conclusions were predetermined.

Please see "Cost Comparisons: Death Penalty Cases Vs Equivalent Life Sentence Cases", to follow.

3) There is increasing evidence that the death penalty is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency.

REBUTTAL:

The Commission uses several references to prove their point. None of them succeeded.

- The first was based upon polling in New Jersey. The data showed strong support for executions in NJ, except when asking those polled to choose between a life sentence or a death sentence, for which life gets greater support. The major problem with this long standing and misleading polling question is that it has nothing to do with the legal reality of sentencing. Secondly, that poll shows broad support for BOTH sanctions, not a call to abandon either. The Commission, somehow, overlooked that obvious point.

Jurors have the choice of both sentences in states with the death penalty and life without parole. Therefore, a proper polling question for NJ would be,

A) should we eliminate the death penalty and ONLY have life without parole? or
B) should we give jurors the OPTION of choosing life or death in capital murder cases?

Based upon other polls, I suspect B would be the resounding winner of this poll in NJ.

Secondly, the Commissions polling speaker avoided the most obvious and reliable polling question on this topic - asking about the punishment for a specific crime, just as jurors have to decide. For example, 81% of Americans supported the execution of Timothy McVeigh. 85% of Connecticut citizens polled supported the execution of serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross.

Thirdly, poll New Jersey citizens with the following questions. Is life without parole or the death penalty the most appropriate punishment for those who rape and murder children? Or should NJ remove the death penalty as a jury option for those who rape and murder children?

- Two religious speakers spoke against execution. Both are easily rebutted by religious scholars holding different views.

- Another alleged example of this evolving standard is based upon the fact there has been a reduction in death sentences. Such reduction is easily explained by a number of factors, other than some imagined "evolving standard of decency".

Murders have dropped some 40%, capital murders have likely dropped by even a greater number, based upon other factors. This, by itself, explains the overwhelming percentage of the drop in death sentences.

In addition, many prosecutors, such as those in NJ, know that their courts will not allow executions, leading to prosecutorial frustration as a contributing factor in any reduction - not an evolving standard of decency, but an evolving and increasing frustration.

Please review: "Why the reduction in death sentences?", to follow.

4) The available data do not support a finding of invidious racial bias in the application of the death penalty in New Jersey.

CLARIFICATION:

In fact, there is no data to support any racial bias, invidious or otherwise. The Commission must have read the series of NJ studies.

5) Abolition of the death penalty will eliminate the risk of disproportionality in capital sentencing.

REBUTTAL:

Yes, Commission, and the abolition of all criminal sentences will eliminate the risk of disproportionality in all sentences, as well. This is hardly a rational reason to get rid of any sentence. Get rid of the expensive and unnecessary proportionality review.

6) The penological interest in executing a small number of persons guilty of murder is not sufficiently compelling to justify the risk of making an irreversible error.

REBUTTAL:

- The risk to innocents is greater with life without parole than with the death penalty. See (1), above LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE.

7) The alternative of Life imprisonment in a maximum security institution without the possibility of parole would sufficiently ensure public safety and address other legitimate social and penological interests, including the interests of the families of murder victims.

REBUTTAL:

This Commission statement is quite simply, false.

- Life imprisonment puts more innocents at risk than does the death penalty.

- Justice, just punishment, retribution and/or saving innocent lives, among others, are all legitimate social and penological interests all served by the death penalty.

- 81% of Americans supported the execution of Timothy McVeigh. 85% of Connecticut citizens polled supported the execution of serial, rapist/murderer Michael Ross.

The overwhelming majority of those polled did not have family members murdered.

Is the Commission trying to tell us that a poll of NJ murder victim survivors would show a majority opposed to the death penalty? Of course not, that would be as absurd as the Commissions conclusions in this section.

Conclusion:

Almost without exception, The Commission accepted the standard anti death penalty position, without presenting the easily accessible rebuttal to that position.

Enough said.

-----------------------

NJ Death Penalty Study Commission

It is alleged that the Commission had fair hearings, with both sides adequately presented.

Alleged fair hearings mean nothing, if decisions are predetermined, as this one was.

11 of the 13 committee members were either known or leaning anti death penalty. The contempt for and discounting of pro death penalty positions in both the hearings and final report confirm that.

All the prosecutors on the Commission were up for reappointment - by the staunchly anti death penalty Governor. Would any of them sacrifice their livelihood to fight for the death penalty? Of course not and they did not.

One committee member - one - was confirmable as pro death penalty.

Most, if not all, of Committee Chairman Rev. Howard's previous affiliations were anti death penalty.

Rev. Howard's fairness is best shown by the Commission's final report, which was laughable in its exclusion of pro death penalty positions, positions which would have either overwhelmed or neutralized the anti death penalty, predetermined conclusions of the panel, had those pro death penalty positions been given a fair showing in that report - which they weren't.

The Commission hearings and final report were, as all show trials, a farce.

copyright 2007 Dudley Sharp

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, C-Span, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, BBC and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites

homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

dudleysharp said...

No Death Penalty=More Innocents at risk
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
 
Those who say the death penalty puts innocents at risk of execution forget to look at both sides of the equation.
 
What is the risk to innocents within a life sentence and absent the death penalty? The evidence is that innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
 
Living murderers, in prison, after escape or after our failures to incarcerate them, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
 
This is a truism.
 
No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
 
That is. logically, conclusive.
 
16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses,  find for death penalty deterrence.
 
Is this a surprise? No. Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
 
Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.
 
What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
 
However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is  compelling and un refuted  that death is feared more than life - even in prison.
 
Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
 
Reality paints a very different picture.
 
What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
 
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
 
Furthermore, history tells us that "lifers" have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc..

In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
 
--------
 
Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have been released upon post conviction review. There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
 
Unlikely.
 
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
 
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, BBC and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Report, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
 
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
 
Pro death penalty sites 

homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm  (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

Permission for distribution of this document is approved as long as it is distributed in its entirety, without changes, inclusive of this statement.
 
Copyright 2007

MediumPetey said...

Executions cost more than life in prison.
$2 million per person vs. $500,000 (4x as much!). Free counsel for defense, for appeals, maximum security on a separate death row wing.
2.
The innocent may be wrongly executed.
Since the DP was reinstated in 1976, 82 inmates have been freed from Death Row. That's 1 Death Row inmate found to be wrongfully convicted for every 7 executed.
3.
Is not a deterrent; crime rates have not gone down.
In fact, the murder rate in the US is 6 times that of Britain and 5 times that of Australia. Neither country has the DP. Texas has twice the murder rate of Wisconsin, a state that doesn't have the DP. Texas and Oklahoma have historically executed the most number of DR inmates, yet in 2003 their state murder rates increased, and both have murder rates higher than the national average.
4.
Life in prison also guarantees no future crimes.
5.
Some religions forbid death penalty: Catholic, Presbyterian, Quaker, Amish, Mennonite.
6.
Killing is wrong.
7.
Many Death Row inmates were convicted while being defended by court-appointed lawyers who are often the worst-paid and most-inexperienced and least-skillful lawyers.
The American Bar Association published guidelines for a good defense in a death penalty case: (a) attorneys with prior experience working a capital case, (b) 2 attorneys, 1 investigator, 1 mitigation specialist, and (c) fully funded to pay for travel, private eyes, evidence testing and other things needed to investigate the case. Yet no state meets these standards. And few states pay their state-appointed lawyers well enough to retain competent, effective lawyers.
8.
Violates international human rights laws.
9.
No longer practiced in most sophisticated societies.
10.
Promotes killing as an OK solution to a difficult problem.
11.
Death sentences are handed down arbitrarily, not in a fair manner.
Serial killers such as the infamous Gary Ridgway in Seattle who admitted killing 48 prostitutes and runaways got life in prison. An "angel of death" nurse in NJ who admitted killing 17 people got life. Meanwhile, mentally ill and impoverished murderers who could not afford good lawyers and did not warrant much media attention were given the death penalty. In Alabama, David Hocker was executed after a one-day trial. His mental illness was not sufficiently described to the jury. Alabama also executed a 74-year-old man (James Hubbard) who had been on DR for 27 years and was beset by medical problems which would have probably soon caused his death by natural means: cancer, high blood pressure and the early stages of Alzheimers. In Texas, a man with schizophrenia was executed (Kelsey Patterson) even after the Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended clemency after learning of his time spent in mental hospitals and his unintelligible rambling.

dudleysharp said...

1) In NJ it appears that life imprisonment costs more than the death penalty.

2.Innocents are more at risk when we let murderers live. There is no proof of an innocent executed, in the US, at least since 1900. The proof is overhwleming that livng murderers harm and murder, again. Possibly, 20-25 actually innocent people have been sentneced to death since 1973. They have all been released.


3.All prospects for a negative outcome deter some. There is no exception. Since 2001, 16 studies, inclusive of their defenses, have found for death penalty deterrence. No suprise. Life is prefferred over death. Death is feared more than life.Deterrence cannot be measured soley by crime rates,. That has been known for decades.

4. Prioners serving life harm and murder, again, in prison, after escape and after wrongful release.

5. I know of no religion that forbits capital punishment. Some oppose it but none forbid it.

6. Killing in a just war, for self defence and as a just sanction are appropriate.

7. Death row cases overtuned because of ineffective assistance of counsel is a very small percentage of those cases.

8. The death penalty is not a violation of human rights.

9. Even Europeans support the execution of particular murderers. However, with regard to the death penalty , many countries are anti democratic in their position against the death penalty.

10. Executions are not a solution. They are a just sanction for some crimes.

11. About 10% of all murders within the US might qualify for a death penalty eligible trial.  That would be about 60,000 murders since 1973.  We have sentenced 7800 murderers to death since then, or 13% of those eligible.  I doubt that there is any other crime which receives a higher percentage of maximum sentences, when mandatory sentences are not available.  Based upon that, as well as pre trial, trial, appellate and clemency/commutation realities, the US death penalty is likely the least arbitrary and capricious criminal sanctions in the world.  
 

John G. Spragge said...

Capital punishment prevents the uniform application of a single sentence for murder (US courts have rule that a state cannot enforce a mandatory death sentence for any crime). That means the theoretical severity embodied in a seldom (or, as in the case of New Jersey, never) used capital statute masks a real leniency.

Legislative abolition offers an opportunity to enact a uniform sentence for murder that everyone can live with, and which will both affirm life and make it harder for murderers to expect lenient treatment.

dudleysharp said...

There is no uniform application of any sanction within the US.

But, the death penalty is very likely the least arbitrary and capricious sanction in the US.

About 10% of all murders within the US might qualify for a death penalty eligible trial.  That would be about 60,000 murders since 1973.  We have sentenced 7800 murderers to death since then, or 13% of those eligible.  I doubt that there is any other crime which receives a higher percentage of maximum sentences, when mandatory sentences are not available.  Based upon that, as well as pre trial, trial, appellate and clemency/commutation realities, the US death penalty is likely the least arbitrary and capricious criminal sanctions in the world.  

John Spragge said...

As to uniform sanctions: I meant that absent a capital statute (which the state cannot make mandatory) a state legislature can define a uniform mandatory sentence for premeditated or aggravated murder. In Michigan, for example, if you commit first degree murder, you go to jail for the rest of your life.

The statistics strongly suggest that uniform sentences that the state will carry out have a much greater deterrent effect than death sentences the government will never carry out. And abolition by legislature offers an opportunity to put those sanctions in place.

dudleysharp said...

First, I am not sure what statistics show that uniform sentencing improve deterrence.

Uniformly harsher sentencing may improve deterrence, but uniformly lesser sentencing likely would not.

Furthermore, about 95% of all cases are plea bargained. Without the death penalty, all plea bargains will be less than life without parole.

Unirormity doesn't seem to be a good thing, unless your just into uniformity. For example, Spragge may aprove of a 20 year sentnece being given to all murderers, no matter the circumstance, even though current juries sentence murderers to sanctions ranging from probation to a death sentence, depending upon circumstamce.

All criminal acts have different sentencing options depending upon the seriousness of the crime. The hope is that juries or judges will tailor the punishment to the crime.

All taking away the death penalty will do is reduce both justice and deterrence in the category of our worste murders.

John Spragge said...

OK, statistics: the Canadian experience with abolition, 1976-present. On the replacement of an ineffectual capital statute with a uniform penalty, the murder rate buckled, going from a steep rise to an over 20% decline in two years.

Intentional murderer requires a monstrous narcissism; those of us who do not put our pleasure or convenience above other people's lives do not commit murder. If the courts have lighter penalties for murder available, most murderers, considering themselves "special" will expect to get the benefit of the lighter sentence. If, on the other hand, anyone convicted of intentional murder will get the same sentence, that has, as experience strongly suggests, a significant deterrent effect.

dudleysharp said...

murder rates, deterrence and the death penalty

Mr. Spragge must know that deterrence is not measured by murder rates.

For example, the deterrenct effect of the death penalty exists in rising, stable or lowering murder rates. Murders would be fewer in every circumstance, with the death penalty.

In Canada, for example, there was a study, which I believe Mr. Spragge is aware of (I, now, can't find it), that showed that after outlawing the death penalty in canada, murders did go down, with the exception of murders that were eligible for the death penalty.

In addition:

--- 9 out of 10 of the world's countries with the highest murder rates do not have the death penalty. (1) http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita

--- 8 out of 10 of the world's countries with the lowest murder rates do have the death penalty. (2) http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/countries-with-lowest-murder-rates.html

dudleysharp said...

Death Penalty & Deterrence: Let's Be Clear
Dudley Sharp - Justice Matters

In their story, "States With No Death Penalty Share Lower Homicide Rates", The New York Times did their best to illustrate that the death penalty was not a deterrent, by showing that the average murder rate in death penalty states was higher than the average rate in non death penalty states and, it is. (1)

What the Times failed to observe is that their own study confirmed that you can't simply compare those averages to make that determination regarding deterrence.

As one observer stated: "The Times story does nothing more than repeat the dumbest of all dumb mistakes — taking the murder rate in a traditionally high-homicide state with capital punishment (like Texas) and comparing it to a traditionally low-homicide state with no death penalty (like North Dakota) and concluding that the death penalty doesn't work at all. Even this comparison doesn't work so well. The Times own graph shows Texas, where murder rates were 40 percent above Michigan's in 1991, has now fallen below Michigan . . .". (2)

Within the Times article, Michigan Governor John Engler states, "I think Michigan made a wise decision 150 years ago," referring to the state's abolition of the death penalty in 1846. "We're pretty proud of the fact that
we don't have the death penalty."(3)

Even though easily observed on the Times' own graphics, they failed to mention the obvious. Michigan's murder rate is near or above that of 31 of the US's 38 death penalty states. And then, it should be recognized that Washington, DC (not found within the Times study) and Detroit, Michigan, two non death penalty jurisdictions, have been perennial leaders in murder and violent crime rates for the past 30 years. Delaware, a jurisdiction similar in size to them, leads the nation in executions per murder, but has significantly lower rates of murders and violent crime than do either DC or Detroit, during that same period.

Obviously, the Times study and any other simple comparison of jurisdictions with and without the death penalty, means little, with regard to deterrence.

Also revealed within the Times study, but not pointed out by them,: "One-third of the nation's executions take place in Texas—and the steepest decline in homicides has occurred in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, which together account for nearly half the nation's executions." (4)

And, the Times also failed to mention that the major US jurisdiction with the most executions is Harris County (Houston, Texas), which has seen a 73% decrease in murder rates since resuming executions in 1982 -- possibly the largest reduction for a major metropolitan area since that time.

Also omitted from the Times review, although they had the data, is that during a virtual cessation of executions, from 1966-1980, that murders more than doubled in the US. Any other rise and fall in murders, after that time, has been only a fraction of that change, indicating a strong and direct correlation between the lack of executions and the dramatic increase in murders, if that is specifically what you are looking for.

If deterrence was measured by direct correlation's between execution, or the lack thereof, and murder rates, as implied by the Times article, and as wrongly assumed by those blindly accepting that model, then there would be no debate, only more confusion. Which may have been the Times goal.

Let's take a look at the science.

Some non death penalty jurisdictions, such as South Africa and Mexico lead the world in murder and violent crime rates. But then some non death penalty jurisdictions, such as Sweden, have quite low rates. Then there are such death penalty jurisdictions as Japan and Singapore which have low rates of such crime. But then other death penalty jurisdictions, such as Rwanda and Louisiana, that have high rates.

To which an astute observer will respond: But socially, culturally, geographically, legally, historically and many other ways, all of those jurisdictions are very different. Exactly, a simple comparison of only execution rates and murder rates cannot tell the tale of deterrence. And within the US, between states, there exist many variables which will effect the rates of homicides.

And, as so well illustrated by the Times graphics, a non death penalty state, such as Michigan has high murder rates and another non death penalty state, such as North Dakota, has low murder rates and then there are death penalty states, such as Louisiana, with high murder rates and death penalty states, such South Dakota, with low rates. Apparently, unbeknownst to the Times, but quite obvious to any neutral observer, there are other factors at play here, not just the presence or absence of the death penalty. Most thinking folks already knew that.

As Economics Professor Ehrlich stated in the Times piece and, as accepted by all knowledgeable parties, there are many factors involved in such evaluations. That is why there is a wide variation of crime rates both within and between some death penalty and non death penalty jurisdictions, and small variations within and between others. Any direct comparison of only execution rates and only murder rates, to determine deterrence, would reflect either ignorance or deception.

Ehrlich called the Times study "a throwback to the vintage 1960s statistical analyses done by criminologists who compared murder rates in neighboring states where capital punishment was either legal or illegal." "The statistics involved in such comparisons have long been recognized as devoid of scientific merit." He called the Times story a "one sided affair" devoid of merit. Most interesting is that Ehrlich was interviewed by the Time's writer, Fessenden, who asked Ehrlich to comment on the results before the story was published. Somehow Ehrlich's overwhelming criticisms were left out of the article.

Ehrlich also referred Fessenden to some professors who produced the recently released Emory study. Emory Economics department head, Prof. Deshbakhsh "says he was contacted by Fessenden, and he indicated to the Times reporter that the study suggested a very strong deterrent effect of capital punishment." Somehow,
Fessenden's left that out of the Times story, as well. (5).

There is a constant within all jurisdictions -- negative consequences will always have an effect on behavior.

copyright 2000-2004 Dudley Sharp

1) "States With No Death Penalty Share Lower Homicide Rates", The New
York Times 9/22/00 located at www.nytimes.com/2000/09/22/national/22STUD.html andwww.nytimes.com/2000/09/22/national/22DEAT.html
2) “Don't Know Much About Calculus: The (New York) Times flunks high-school
math in death-penalty piece", William Tucker, National Review, 9/22/00, located
at www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment092200c.shtml
3) ibid, see footnote 11
4) "The Death Penalty Saves Lives", AIM Report, August 2000, located atwww.aim.org/publications/aim_report/2000/08a.html
15) "NEW YORK TIMES UNDER FIRE AGAIN", Accuracy in Media, 10/16/00, go to www.aim.org/


Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-Span, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites
homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

Permission for distribution of this document is approved as long as it is distributed in its entirety, without changes, inclusive of this statement.

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dudleysharp said...

The Death Penalty Provides More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

To state the blatantly clear, living murderers, in prison, after release or escape, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.

Although an obvious truism, it is surprising how often folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.

No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.

That is. logically, conclusive.

16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.

A surprise? No.

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

Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.

What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.

However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is compelling and un refuted that death is feared more than life.

Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.

Reality paints a very different picture.

What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.

What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.

What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.

This is not, even remotely, in dispute.

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

Furthermore, history tells us that lifers have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.

In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.

Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.

The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers, The New York Times, has recognized that deception.

To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . (1) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list.

Anti death penalty folks simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.

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

If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can, reasonably, conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.

Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?

Unlikely.

Full report -All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.

Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request

(1) The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times

copyright 2007-2009, Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part, is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites

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

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