Friday, January 9, 2009

A deadly cure for a wrong diagnosis

Solons push for return of death penalty

Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 02:08:00 01/09/2009


MANILA, Philippines—The controversial case of the “Alabang Boys” has triggered calls for the re-imposition of the death penalty, and certain lawmakers were all for it.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon Thursday said he would file next week a bill seeking to restore capital punishment for drug traffickers.

“Even if you jail them, their business continues behind bars,” Biazon said...

“Unlike murderers or rapists who may be reformed, drug lords have the capacity to live comfortable lives in prison while business goes on,” Biazon said.

/
Also earlier today, I had the chance to catch Senator Zubiri being interviewed on the same subject. He said something to the effect that the death penalty should be re-imposed for drug traffickers because when they are caught, they just bribe their jail guards. The re-imposition of the death penalty should solve that.

Hmm. I've been more than 20 years in the manufacturing industry, but right now I think I have to re-learn all over again the correct concept of cause-and-effect analysis, just hearing our solons speak about solving the drug menace problem. Is it a case of right solution for the wrong problem? or wrong solution to the right problem? or wrong on both counts? Or maybe the methodology has mutated?

At any rate, Archbishop Cruz of Lingayen was also interviewed in the same morning news show. He says the Church teaching has not changed. Just for refreshers, here is part of what the Catechism has to say:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If non–lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm -- without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself -- the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are rare, if not practically non–existent.' (NT: John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56)

9 comments:

John-D Borra said...

Willy, an understanding of cause and effect from our public servants? Now that's something worth praying for! :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree...cause and effect might be too abstract for them. Maybe they're looking at it from the point of view of supply and demand. They probably think taking out the suppliers will solve the problem.

But man has a natural drive to fulfill his needs. So someone else will just take the place of those they take out.

They should concentrate on solving the demand side. After all, no buyers mean no business.

- TE

dudleysharp said...

Pope John Paul II: Prudential Judgement & the Death Penalty:
The good Pope's death penalty errors
by Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info, below
October 1997, with subsequent updates thru 5/07
 
SEE ADDITIONAL REFERENCES AT THE END OF THIS DOCUMENT

The new Roman Catholic position on the death penalty, introduced in 1997,  is based upon the thoughts of Pope John Paul II, whose position conflicts with reason, as well as biblical, theological and traditional Catholic teachings spanning nearly 2000 years.
 
Pope John Paul II's death penalty writings in Evangelium Vitae were flawed and their adoption into the Catechism was improper.

In 1997, the Roman Catholic Church decided to amend the 1992 Universal Catechism to reflect Pope John Paul II's comments within his 1995 encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). Therein, the Pope finds that the only time executions can be justified is when they are required "to defend society" and that "as a result of steady improvements . . . in the penal system that such cases are very rare if not practically non existent."
 
This is, simply, not true.  Murderers, tragically, harm and murder, again, way too often.

Furthermore,  the Church has always supported the death penalty, partially based upon a defense of society, but also on many other foundations, which the Pope never addressed, even though those foundations  call for continuing the death penalty. Steady improvements in the penal system are, really, quite irrelevant, regarding something as important as Church teachings. The state of the criminal justice system is not only secular and temporal, but varies in all jurisdictions of the world.

It seems unbelievable that such reasoning could be the basis for an amendment to a Catechism.
 
Many issues, inexplicably, escaped the Pope's consideration.
 
First, in the Pope's context, "to defend society" means that the execution of the murderer must save future lives or, otherwise, prevent future harm.  
 
When looking at the history of  criminal justice practices in probations, paroles and incarcerations, we observe countless examples of when judgements and procedures failed and, because of that, murderers harmed and/or murdered, again. History details that murderers murder and otherwise harm again, time and time again -- in prison, after escape, after improper release, and, of course, after we fail to capture or incarcerate them. 
 
Reason dictates that living murderers are infinitely more likely to harm and/or murder again than are executed murderers - an obvious truism overlooked by the Pope.
 
Therefore,  the Pope could err, by calling for a reduction or end to execution, and thus harm more innocents, or he could "err" on the side of protecting more innocents by calling for an expansion of executions.
 
History, reason and the facts support an increase in executions based upon a defending society foundation. 
 
Secondly, if social science concludes that executions provide enhanced deterrence for murders, then the Pope's position should call for increased executions. 
 
If  we decide that the deterrent effect of executions does not exist and we, therefore, choose not to execute, and we are wrong, this will sacrifice more innocent lives and also give those murderers the opportunity to harm and murder again. 
 
If we choose to execute, believing in the deterrent effect, and we are wrong, we are executing our worst human rights violators and preventing such murderers from ever harming or murdering again - again, defending more innocent lives.
 
No responsible social scientist has or will say that the death penalty deters no one.  Quite a few studies, including 16 recent ones, inclusive of their defenses,  find that executions do deter. 
 
As all prospects for negative consequence deter some (there appears to be no exception),  it is a mystery why the Pope chose the option which spares murderers and sacrifices more innocent lives. 
 
If the Pope's defending society position has merit, then, again, the Church must actively support executions, as it offers an enhanced defense of society and greater protection for innocent life.
 
Thirdly, we know that some criminals don't murder because of their fear of execution.  This is known as the individual deterrent effect.  Unquestionably, the incapacitation effect (execution) and the individual deterrent effect both exist and they both defend society by protecting innocent life and offer enhanced protections over imprisonment.

Fourth, furthermore, individual deterrence assures us that general deterrence must exist, because individual deterrence could not exist without it. 

Executions defend more innocent lives. 

Fifth, actual innocents that are convicted for murders are better protected by due process in death penalty cases, than in non-death penalty cases. No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the US 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.

Again, offering more defense of innocents and, thereby, a greater defense of society.

The Pope's defending society standard should be a call for increasing executions. Instead, the Pope and other Church leadership has chosen a position that spares the lives of known murderers, resulting in more innocents put at risk and more innocents harmed and murdered --  a position which, quite clearly, contradicts the Pope's, and other's, conclusions.
 
Contrary to the Church's belief, that the Pope's opinion represents a tougher stance against the death penalty, the opposite is true. When properly evaluated, the defending society position supports more executions.
 
Had these issues been properly assessed, the Catechism would never have been amended  --  unless the Church endorses a position knowing that it would spare the lives of guilty murderers, at the cost of sacrificing more innocent victims. 
 
When the choice is  between

1) sparing murderers, resulting in more harmed and murdered innocents, who suffer through endless moments of incredible horror, with no additional time to prepare for their salvation, or
2) executing murderers, who are given many years on death row to prepare for their salvation, and saving more innocents from being murdered,

The Pope and the Catholic Church have an obligation to spare and defend more innocents, as Church tradition, the Doctors of the Church and many Saints have concluded. (see reference, below)
 
Pope John Paul II's death penalty stance was his own, personal prudential judgement and does not bind any other Catholic to share his position. Any Catholic can choose to support more executions, based upon their own prudential judgement, and remain a Catholic in good standing and they can also, thereby, defend more innocents.
 
Furthermore, prudential judgement requires a foundation of reasoned and thorough review. The Pope either improperly evaluated the risk to innocents or he did not evaluate it at all.
 
A defending society position supports more executions, not less. Therefore, Pope John Paul II's prudential judgement was in error on this important fact, thereby undermining his sole point in reducing executions.
 
Sixth, defending society is an outcome of the death penalty, but is secondary to the foundation of justice and biblical instruction. See some references, at bottom.
 
Even though Romans and additional writings do reveal a "defending society" consideration, such references pale in comparison to the mandate that execution is the proper punishment for murder, regardless of any consideration "to defend society."  Both the Noahic covenant, in Genesis 9:6 ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed."), and the Mosaic covenant, throughout the Pentateuch (Ex.: "He that smiteth a man so that he may die, shall be surely put to death."  Exodus 21:12), provide execution as the punishment for unjustifiable/intentional homicide, otherwise known as murder. 

These texts, and others, offer specific rebuttal to the Pope's position that if "bloodless means" for punishment are available then such should be used, to the exclusion of execution. Pope John Paul II's prudential judgement does not trump biblical instruction.
 
Seventh, the Roman Catholic tradition instructs four elements to be considered  with criminal sanction.
1.  Defense of society against the criminal.
2.  Rehabilitation of the criminal (including spiritual rehabilitation).
3.  Retribution, which is the reparation of the disorder caused by the criminal's transgression.
4.   Deterrence
 
It is a mystery why and how the Pope could have excluded three of these important elements and wrongly evaluated the fourth. In doing so, though, we can confirm that his review was both incomplete and improper. 
 
At least two Saints, Paul and Dismas, faced execution and stated that it was appropriate. They were both executed. Jesus invoked capital punishment on several occasions and never challenged it.
 
The Holy Ghost decided that death was the proper punishment for two devoted, early Christians,  Ananias and his wife, Saphira,  for the crime/sin of lying. Neither was given a moment to consider their earthly punishment or to ask for forgiveness. The Holy Ghost struck them dead.
 
For those who erroneously contend that Jesus abandoned the Law of the Hebrew Testament, He states that He has come not "to abolish the law and the prophets . . . but to fulfill them."  Matthew 5:17-22.  While there is honest debate regarding the interpretation of Mosaic Law within a Christian context, there seems little dispute that the Noahic Covenant is still in effect and that Genesis 9:6 deals directly with the sanctity of life issue in its support of execution.

(read "A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).
 
"In his debates with the Pharisees, Jesus cites with approval the apparently harsh commandment, He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die (Mt 15:4; Mk 7:10, referring to Ex 21:17; cf. Lev 20:9). (Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, 10/7/2000).
 
Saint Pius V reaffirms this mandate, in the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566), stating that executions are acts of "paramount obedience to this [Fifth] Commandment."  ("Thou shalt not murder," sometimes improperly translated as "kill" instead of "murder").  And, not only do the teachings of Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine concur, but both saints also find that such punishment actually reflects charity and mercy by preventing the wrongdoer from sinning further.  The Saints position is that execution offers undeniable defense of society as well as defense of the wrongdoer.
 
Such prevention also expresses the fact that execution is an enhanced defense of society, over and above all other punishments.
 
Eighth, the relevant question is "What biblical and theological teachings, developed from 1566 through 1997, provide that the standard for executions should evolve from 'paramount obedience' to God's eternal law to a civil standard reflecting 'steady improvements' . . . in the penal system?".  Such teachings hadn't changed.  The Pope's position is social and contrary to biblical,  theological and traditional teachings.
 
If Saint Pius V was correct, that executions represent "paramount obedience to the [Fifth] Commandments, then is it not disobedient to reduce or stop executions? Of course.
 
The Church's position on the use of the death penalty has been consistent from 300 AD through 1995 AD.  The Church has always supported the use of executions, based upon biblical and theological principles.
 
Until 1995, says John Grabowski, associate professor of Moral Theology at Catholic University, " . . .  Church teachings were supportive of the death penalty.  You can find example after example of Pope's, of theologians and others, who have supported the right of the state to inflict capital punishment for certain crimes and certain cases." Grabowski continues: "What he (the Pope now) says, in fact, in his encyclical, is that given the fact that we now have the ability, you know, technology and facilities to lock up someone up for the rest of their lives so they pose no future threat to society -- given that question has been answered or removed, there is no longer justification for the death penalty."  (All Things Considered, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, 9/9/97.)
 
Ninth, the Pope's position is now based upon the state of the corrections system -- a position neither biblical nor theological in nature.  Furthermore, it is a position which conflicts with the history of prisons.  Long term incarceration of lawbreakers in Europe began in the 1500s.  Of course, long term incarceration of slaves had begun thousands of years before --  meaning that all were aware that criminal wrongdoers  could also be subject to bondage, if necessary - something that all historians and biblical scholars -- now and then --  were and are well aware of. 
 
Since it's inception, the Church has issued numerous pronouncements, encyclicals and previous Universal Catechisms.  Had any biblical or theological principle called for a replacement of the death penalty by life imprisonment, it would have been revealed long before 1995. 

Tenth, the levels of incarceration security and lengths of criminal sentences vary, wildly, throughout the world. Therefore, there is no uniform state of the criminal justice system, making the Pope's position even less universal and less responsible and much more problematic.
 
Eleventh, there is, finally, a disturbing reality regarding the Pope's new standard.  The Pope's defending society standard requires that the moral concept of justice becomes irrelevant.  The Pope's standard finds that capital punishment can be used only as a vehicle to prevent future crimes. Therefore, using the Pope's standard, the moral/biblical rational -- that capital punishment is the just or required punishment for murder -- is no longer relevant to the sin/crime of murder. 
 
If defending society is the new standard, the Pope has decided, based upon secular standards, that the biblical standards of atonement, expiation, justice and required punishments have all, necessarily, been discarded, with regard to execution.
 
The Pope's new position establishes that capital punishment no longer has any connection to the harm done or to the imbalance to be addressed.  Yet, such connection had always been, until now, the Church's historical, biblically based perspective on this sanction.  Under a defending society standard, the injury suffered by the murder victim is no longer relevant to their punishment.  Executions can be justified solely upon that punishments ability to prevent future harm by the murderer.

Therefore, when considering executions in regard to capital murder cases, a defending society standard renders justice irrelevant.  Yet, execution defends society to a degree unapproachable by any other punishment and, therefore, should have been fully supported by the Pope.
 
"Some enlightened people would like to banish all conception of retribution or desert from our theory of punishment and place its value wholly in the deterrence of others or the reform of the criminal himself.  They do not see that by doing so they render all punishment unjust. What can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it?" (quote attributed to the distinguished Christian writer C. S. Lewis)
 
Again, with regard to the Pope's prudential judgement, his neglect of justice was most imprudent.
 
Some Catholic scholars, properly, have questioned the appropriateness of including prudential judgement within a Catechism. Personal opinion does not belong within a Catechism and, likely, will never be allowed, again. I do not believe it had ever been allowed before.
 
In fact, neither the Church nor the Pope would accept a defending society standard for use of the death penalty, unless the Church and the Pope believed that such punishment was just and deserved, as well.  The Church has never questioned the authority of the government to execute in "cases of extreme gravity," nor does it do so with these recent changes. 
 
Certainly, the Church and the Pope John Paul II believe that the prevention of any and all violent crimes fulfills a defending society position.  There is no doubt that executions defend society at a level higher than incarceration. Why has the Pope and many within Church leadership chosen a path that spares murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives, when they could have chosen a stronger defense of society which spares more innocents?
 
Properly, the Pope did not challenge the Catholic biblical and theological support for capital punishment.  The Pope has voiced his own, personal belief as to the appropriate application of that penalty. 
 
So why has the Pope come out against executions, when his own position -- a defense of society -- which, both rationally and factually, has a foundation supportive of more executions?
 
It is unfortunate that the Pope, along with some other leaders in the Church, have decided to, improperly, use a defending society position to speak against the death penalty.
 
The Pope's position against the death penalty condemns more innocents and neglects justice.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES
 
(1) "Capital Punishment: New Testament Teaching", 1998, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., considered one of the most prominent Roman Catholic theologians of  the 20th century.   See bottom.
http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Sacred_Scripture/Sacred_Scripture_014.htm

 "There are certain moral norms that have always and everywhere been held by the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Although never formally defined, they are irreversibly binding on the followers of Christ until the end of the world." "Such moral truths are the grave sinfulness of contraception and direct abortion. Such, too, is the Catholic doctrine which defends the imposition of the death penalty."

"Most of the Church's teaching, especially in the moral order, is infallible doctrine because it belongs to what we call her ordinary universal magisterium."

"Equally important is the Pope's  (Pius XII) insistence that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture of Christianity." " . . . the Church's teaching on 'the coercive power of legitimate human authority' is based on 'the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.' It is wrong, therefore 'to say that these sources only contain ideas which are conditioned by historical circumstances.' On the contrary, they have 'a general and abiding validity.' (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1955, pp 81-2)."
 
about Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
http://www.mariancatechist.com/html/general/stjohnhardon.htm
http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/archives.htm
http://www.mariancatechist.com/html/general/fatherhardon.htm
http://www.saintphilomena.com/newpage4.htm
http://credo.stormloader.com/Saints/hardon.htm

 
(2) "The Death Penalty", by Romano Amerio,  a faithful Catholic Vatican insider, scholar, professor at the Academy of Lugano, consultant to the Preparatory Commission of Vatican II, and a peritus (expert theologian) at the Council.
 http://www.domid.blogspot.com/2007/05/amerio-on-capital-punishment.html

I find this to be a thorough theological repudiation of Pope John Paul II's death penalty prudential judgements and of their improper inclusion into the amending of the Catechism.

"Amerio has the great gift of going to the heart of a subject in a few lines and very neatly distinguishes genuine Catholicism from imitations and aberrations." "What makes Amerio's analysis unique is that he restricts himself to official and semi-official pronouncements by popes, cardinals, bishops, episcopal conferences and articles in L'Osservatore Romano, from the time of Pope John XXIII to 1985 when the book was originally written." (1)
 
titled "Amerio on capital punishment ",   Chapter XXVI, 187. The death penalty, from the book Iota Unum,   May 25, 2007

About Romano Amerio
http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/176565?eng=y
http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2006/02/romano-amerio-and-pope-benedict.html
http://www.latin-mass-society.org/2007/romanoamerio.html
http://www.angeluspress.org/oscatalog/item/6700/iota-unum

 
(3)  "Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty", at
         www.homicidesurvivors.com/2006/10/12/catholic-and-other-christian-references-support-for-the-death-penalty.aspx
 
 
(4)  "Capital Punishment: A Catholic Perspective",
          by Br. Augustine (Emmanuel Valenza)
         www.sspx.org/against_the_sound_bites/capital_punishment.htm
 
 
(5) "Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice", Prof. J. Budziszewski, First Things, August / September     2004 found athttp://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles4/BudziszewskiPunishment.shtml
 

(6) "The Death Penalty", by Solange Strong Hertz at
         www.ourworld.compuserve.com/HOMEPAGES/REMNANT/death2.htm
 
 
(7) "Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says", Dr. Lloyd R. Bailey, Abingdon Press, 1987.
           The definitive  biblical review of the death penalty.
 
 
(8) "Why I Support Capital Punishment", by Andrew Tallman
          sections 7-11 biblical review, sections 1-6 secular review
          http://andrewtallmanshowarticles.blogspot.com/search?q=Capital+punishment
 
 
(9) Forgotten Truths: "Is The Church Against Abortion and The Death Penalty"
          by Luiz Sergio Solimeo, Crusade Magazine, p14-16, May/June 2007
          www.tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=957
 

(10)  "A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).
 

(11) "God’s Justice and Ours" by US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, First Things, 5/2002
         www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=2022
 

(12) "The Purpose of Punishment (in the Catholic tradition)",
        by R. Michael Dunningan, J.D., J.C.L., CHRISTIFIDELIS, Vol.21,No.4, sept 14, 2003 http://www.st-joseph-foundation.org/newsletter/lead.php?document=2003/21-4



(13) Chapter V:The Sanctity of Life, "Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics" By John Murray
 http://books.google.com/books?id=phoqAAaGMpUC&pg=PA107&lpg=PA114&ots=mFvByHqGSy&dq=Murray+%22It+is+the+sanctity+of+human+life+that+underlies+the+sixth+commandment.%22&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html&sig=ACfU3U1b0mdM3BfpNSXnhrwFYXaE_9Ij9A


(14) "MOST CATHOLICS OPPOSE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?",
         KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER,   Catholic Answers, March 2, 2004
        www.catholic.com/newsletters/kke_040302.asp
 

(15) "THOUGHTS ON THE BISHOPS' MEETING: NOWADAYS, VOTERS IGNORE BISHOPS",
          KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER, Catholic Answers,, Nov. 22, 2005
         www.catholic.com/newsletters/kke_051122.asp
---------------------

70% of Catholics supported the death penalty as of May, 2oo5, Gallup Poll, Moral Values and Beliefs. The May 2-5, 2005 poll also found that 74% of Americans  favor the death penalty for murderers, while 23% oppose.

copyright 1999-2008 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.

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. They 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

Anonymous said...

I've skimmed through this long post. Offhand, a few things stick out.

Mr Sharp points out that the criminal justice system is secular and temporal and varies across the world. He also points out that murderers kill again when they get out or escape. He also contends that the rights of the innocent are better protected in death row.

First, murderers kill again ONLY if they get out. Of course executing them would prevent them from getting out again, ever. But that's like using the death penalty to correct a weakness in the justice system. They shouldn't have gotten out in the first place.

Second, the contention that the rights of an innocent in death row who is wrongly incarcerated are better protected under the death penalty because of the more stringent due process is debatable. As he points out, the criminal justice system varies across countries. Would his contention also be true in the Philippines?

Due process is not justice itself. It's the process that is supposed to achieve justice. And people think that without it justice cannot be had. But is it THE ONLY way to achieve justice?

Studies would show that the death penalty would have deterrent effect - based on manmade fear. Of course it would have some effect. Even imposing fines would have some effect. But how do you measure a deterrent's effectiveness? You can't count how many people escaped being murdered because the would-be murderer was deterred from killing. In the same way, you can't count how many people avoided being murdered because the murderer was executed before he could escape.

No one would ever know the actual outcome because no one can measure what didn't happen. So we bet again.

The proponents of death penalty are betting that they are right - meaning they would achieve more security in their lives. Those against are also betting that alternatives to the death penalty are better. Both try to stack the deck for their side by making studies, conducting polls and gathering as many relvant statistics as they can.

But one thing is sure. When God created your life it wasn't a temporal event, it was a divine one. Could it be that the temporal act of killing represents a divine problem which requires a divine solution? As Yoda would say, how would you address a disturbance in the Force?

- TE

WillyJ said...

Mr. Sharp says:
"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."

Very good and very funny. Well, it's blatantly clear to me as well -- dead murderers are not likely to kill again :-)

But thanks Dudley for a very incisive and comprehensive response. Although I feel that the
real argument of Pope Jp2 has not been really addressed, that -- "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are rare, if not practically non–existent.". So...what are these rare "cases"? What are the circumstances that makes execution a necessity? As TE says, "murderers kill again ONLY if they get out".

Ok there maybe statistics and probabilities, but would we disregard the redemption of even one soul? Judging what in the future will transpire on anyones innermost sanctuary is beyond any mortal competence. Only God knows. Lets remember the thief on the cross. We should also remember that the Shepherd also looks for that one lost sheep.

A major point in my post is the disjoint of proposed remedies for the actual problem at hand. Bribery is a problem that must be addressed on its own terms. Corruption in the justice system is a problem that must be addressed on its own terms likewise. Proposing capital punishment to deter crimes when there are enough deterrents is a cop-out, we only need to administer what is already in place properly. "Government cannot ignore its responsibility for running a corruption-free, impartial, efficient, prosecution and penal system". I'm seeing they want to execute people when all they need to do is execute the system properly.

dudleysharp said...

TE:

In the essay you responded to I was only addressing that the death penalty protected innocents, better.

You replied: "But that's like using the death penalty to correct a weakness in the justice system. They shouldn't have gotten out in the first place."

Yes, but it is a truism that living murderers harm and murder, again. That happens in prison, after escape or release. Those weaknesses likely will never be overcome, compeletely.

You write: "Second, the contention that the rights of an innocent in death row who is wrongly incarcerated are better protected under the death penalty because of the more stringent due process is debatable. As he points out, the criminal justice system varies across countries. Would his contention also be true in the Philippines?"

I am dealing primarily with US due process. However, I strongly suspect due process in the Philippines in enhanced for the death penalty, over any lesser sentence.
I am no suggesting that due process is justice. But, better due process will more assure justice than will lesser due process. Of course, justice and due process are different things.

All of the deterrence studies do give actual numerical figures for those deterred.

We know that all prospects for a negative outcome deter some people.

dudleysharp said...

WillJ wrote: "Although I feel that the real argument of Pope Jp2 has not been really addressed, that -- "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are rare, if not practically non–existent.".

It was addressed. That quote is based on a defense of society. That was addressed in both of my essays.

Possily, I a missing your point?

WillyJ said...

Dudley,
I quote you:
"Murderers, tragically, harm and murder, again, way too often. If we..choose not to execute...this will sacrifice more innocent lives and also give those murderers the opportunity to harm and murder again".

This would be based on the premise of an ineffectual police, judiciary and penal system. There has to be an inherent flaw within these systems that would make it likely for a murderer to "harm and murder again". Such flaw would be highly insurmountable or practically unworkable such that it justifies the execution of a convicted murderer, to "defend society". Yes, agreed. But then again, are these insurmountable flaws and are there even practically any? You said "we observe countless examples of when judgements and procedures failed", then by all means it is a failure of judgements and procedures, which does not present in the words of Pope JP2 "an absolute necessity" for capital punishment. If at all it presents an absolute necessity for vigilance that the police, judiciary and penal system are carried out judiciously.

Robbers would also steal, time and again, if they are not conventionally productive and if the police and jail system is lax. Should we cut off their hands? Or do we fix the police protection and jail system? Better if we could address societal concerns that would minimize if not eradicate the possibility of robberies -- and overall crimes for that matter. I am sure there are people who are responsible for the agony and deaths of countless innocents, and these are not even "murderers" in the normal sense of the word. Most of them are well-dressed and ride in expensive cars. We must all see the situations where the modern world really needs to defend society against.