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Debunking Myths About Capital Punishment

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  • Debunking Myths About Capital Punishment

    (By Michael P. Tremoglie author of the police novel A Sense of Duty available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. A former Philadelphia Police Officer Tremoglie has been a columnist of the The Philadelphia Bulletin, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him [email protected])

    __________________________________________________ _____________

    June 11, 2007 was the sixth anniversary of the execution of the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. Despite the claims of capital punishment opponents that executions do not deter murders, McVeigh has not killed anyone else since his execution.

    Those who want to abolish capital punishment have propagated the myth that capital punishment does not deter murder. Some have claimed that every reasonable criminologist who studied the issue determined that capital punishment is not a deterrent. Presumably, their definition of a reasonable criminologist is one who believes that capital punishment is not a deterrent.

    The facts, however, are quite different. Many criminologists – and other social scientists – have concluded that capital punishment is a deterrent (a salient fact that I routinely used to point out to my graduate criminology professors).

    Indeed, a 2003 study, published in the Journal of Law and Economics – and reviewed in 2006 – determined that capital punishment did deter homicides. The study investigated:

    . . . the impact of the execution rate, commutation and removal rates, homicide arrest rate, sentencing rate, imprisonment rate, and prison death rate on the rate of homicide. The results show that each additional execution decreases homicides by about five, and each additional commutation increases homicides by the same amount, while an additional removal from death row generates one additional murder.

    This is not the only academic study that concluded capital punishment’s deterrent effect:

    A 2003 study by Emory University Economics Department Chairman Hashem Dezhbakhsh and Emory Professors Paul Rubin and Joanna Shepherd stated that “our results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect.”
    Another 2003 study, by Clemson University’s Joanna Shepherd, established that each execution deters an average of five murders and that postponing executions reduced the deterrent effect.
    A 2002 Senate report declared there is a great deal of proof that capital punishment is a deterrent. The report affirms, “. . . there is overwhelming evidence that capital punishment saves a substantial number of innocent lives, deterring probably thousands of murders in the United States every year.”
    A November 2001 paper, presented to the American Society of Criminology said, “There has been a great deal of research conducted by criminologists on the effectiveness of the death penalty in preventing future homicides . . . While many of these studies find no deterrent effect there are other well designed research reports that reach the opposite conclusion.”
    There have been studies validating the efficacy of capital punishment for more than thirty years, yet, if all you knew was what the mainstream media reported you would think science had proven otherwise.

    The good news, though, is that despite the well-funded, anti-capital punishment misinformation campaign, helped by a liberal media, the public still favors capital punishment:

    A May 2006 Gallup poll indicated that Americans favor the death penalty; 65 percent favored it, while 28 percent opposed it.
    A December 2005 poll by the Pew Research Center revealed 62% of Americans favored capital punishment.
    A 2000 Zogby poll revealed that 78% of Italian-Americans, 75% of Asian-Americans, 73% of Hispanic-Americans, 71% of Arab-Americans and 64% of African-Americans favor capital punishment.
    This last fact is significant because capital punishment abolitionists have tried to portray the death penalty as racist. This is a tansparent attempt to discredit those who favor capital punishment. Yet, this too is not true.

    A 1991 Rand Corporation study by Stephen Klein found that white murderers received the death penalty slightly more often than non-white murderers. It also examined the sentencing disparity for the race of the victim. Rand concluded that although murderers of whites did receive the death penalty more than murderers of blacks, when controlled for variables such as severity and number of crimes committed, there was no disparity.

    Patrick A. Lanagan, PhD., a Department of Justice statistician, studied the phenomena and stated that there was no evidence that blacks and whites were treated differently.

    Here are some facts about convicted murderers that provide a perspective about capital punishment that you will not get from the New York Times and other liberal media. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, as of Dec. 31, 2004, 8 percent of those sentenced to be executed had at least one previous homicide conviction; 3.4 percent (101 murderers) were already in prison when they murdered someone.

    Those who say capital punishment is not a deterrent, or who say life imprisonment is an effective substitute, should examine these facts. They would also do well to heed the words of Edmund Burke, who once said, "The men who today snatch the worst criminals from justice will murder the most innocent persons tomorrow."

  • #2
    Frankly, I could care less if the death penalty is a deterrent or not. A much higher authority once said, "An eye for an eye..." That's good enough for me.
    Originally posted by kontemplerande
    Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by hillstreetblues View Post
      June 11, 2007 was the sixth anniversary of the execution of the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. Despite the claims of capital punishment opponents that executions do not deter murders, McVeigh has not killed anyone else since his execution.
      True, but if was started executing speeders, I can guarantee they would never speed again You'd get the same result.

      Oh and speaking of Oklahoma, one month prior to this date, Curtis Edward McCarty became the 124th person to be exonerated from death row since 1973 after spending 21 years on death row, DNA evidence showed someone else raped the girl and committed the crime he was convicted of. Now, I don't know about the people who were pardoned but there is quite a few people who have been freed from death row based on DNA evidence. IMO a single person wrongfully put on death row is too many considering the consequences Had death penalty supporters who typically want less appeals and faster "justice" had their way, an innocent man would have had his life deliberately taken from him against his will... kinda reminds me of a crime... hint: redrum

      http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/arti...scid=6&did=110
      Last edited by itnstalln; 06-15-2007, 01:45 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        there has to be certain things met for it to be considered a capital puinshment offensive. In texas, comit a felony while doing a felony...(rob a store AND shot the clerk) jsut like the going after cops (public servents ing ereal actully ) is consider capital.

        sadly the whiners always say it doest stop but it does stop and make people think twice some times....
        ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
        Oscar Wilde

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        • #5
          Philosophically I have no problem with the death penalty. realistically, though, I see it as a very expensive form of punishment. In order to avoid the very occasional mistaken conviction (only the DNA reversal makes the papers), the State would have to expend an equal amount of funds on the defense as on the prosecution. I find it troubling that a State would assign a real estate attorney to defend a capital case, and assignments like this have occurred. However, if the money is spent, the perp's fate would be sealed.

          Comment


          • #6
            As SRT said, an eye for an eye. There are some of these people who don't think anyone should be executed. Child rapists, and people of that sort aren't doing anything good for their community, they're just making everything worse. Better to get rid of them.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by itnstalln View Post
              Oh and speaking of Oklahoma, one month prior to this date, Curtis Edward McCarty became the 124th person to be exonerated from death row since 1973 after spending 21 years on death row, DNA evidence showed someone else raped the girl and committed the crime he was convicted of. Now, I don't know about the people who were pardoned but there is quite a few people who have been freed from death row based on DNA evidence. IMO a single person wrongfully put on death row is too many considering the consequences Had death penalty supporters who typically want less appeals and faster "justice" had their way, an innocent man would have had his life deliberately taken from him against his will... kinda reminds me of a crime... hint: redrum

              http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/arti...scid=6&did=110
              When you are considering the sentencing for a crime, guilt has already been proved. You cannot base the consequences on thoughts like, "Well, they MIGHT be innocent, even though they were just convicted in a court of law." The consequences we set up are for guilty offenders, not innocent ones.

              Yes, people do get wrongly convicted. But that is a flaw in the investigation/arrest/trial processes and needs to be addressed there. You cannot address it with relaxed consequences for everyone.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fëanor View Post
                When you are considering the sentencing for a crime, guilt has already been proved. You cannot base the consequences on thoughts like, "Well, they MIGHT be innocent, even though they were just convicted in a court of law." The consequences we set up are for guilty offenders, not innocent ones.

                Yes, people do get wrongly convicted. But that is a flaw in the investigation/arrest/trial processes and needs to be addressed there. You cannot address it with relaxed consequences for everyone.
                I agree, when a judge sentences a person they are doing so based on the guilty verdict. However, mistakes are made, and in this specific case, the jury found him guilty, but DNA evidence proved (as best as it can, which is pretty good...) that he did not do it. I just believe too much is at risk to execute people.

                I may be mistaken but in theory isn't out justice system set up to protect the innocent at all costs? Such that we'd rather have 10 guilty people go free then 1 innocent person imprisoned.

                I mean if you did execute an innocent person, how does that make you any different than people executed for murder?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fëanor View Post
                  Yes, people do get wrongly convicted. But that is a flaw in the investigation/arrest/trial processes and needs to be addressed there. You cannot address it with relaxed consequences for everyone.
                  Yes, that's exactly what you do. The cornerstone of the Criminal Justice System is that it is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than that one innocent man should be punished. That innocent man, might after all, be you.

                  Personally, I don't care about the "ooo, it's so horrible and barbaric" argument. Let 'em suffer. We all die. But isn't it more fitting that they spend forty or fifty years in an eight by ten chamberpot, constantly having to watch their backs.
                  I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    By not killing, a society can retain the moral high ground.
                    shepherdess extraordinaire

                    "Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it is dark."- Zen proverb

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by itnstalln View Post
                      True, but if was started executing speeders, I can guarantee they would never speed again You'd get the same result.

                      Oh and speaking of Oklahoma, one month prior to this date, Curtis Edward McCarty became the 124th person to be exonerated from death row since 1973 after spending 21 years on death row, DNA evidence showed someone else raped the girl and committed the crime he was convicted of. Now, I don't know about the people who were pardoned but there is quite a few people who have been freed from death row based on DNA evidence. IMO a single person wrongfully put on death row is too many considering the consequences Had death penalty supporters who typically want less appeals and faster "justice" had their way, an innocent man would have had his life deliberately taken from him against his will... kinda reminds me of a crime... hint: redrum

                      http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/arti...scid=6&did=110

                      Please tell me the names of innocent people who have been executed in the United States.

                      Also be very careful about what saying some one was exonerated by DNA evidence because all during the 1980's Barry Scheck and others who are now who are touting DNA evidence as the absolute standard for determining innocence were the same people who were syaing you could not determine someone's guilt because of DNA evidence. ( Remember OJ Simpson trial?)

                      Also the term found innocent is not accurate. Many people removed from death row were not found innocent. The Bedau Radelet study that made that claim was found to be extremely flawed:

                      "Arguing for the innocence of Joseph Hillstrom, executed for murder in 1930, for example, Bedau and Radelet cite a novel portraying Hillstrom as innocent. They apparently did not attach much weight to the fact that the novel's author explicitly states in the forward that he has written a work of fiction -- "an act of the imagination." Nor were Bedau and Radelet impressed by the author's repeated public statements that he believed the real Joseph Hillstrom to be guilty."

                      http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache...lnk&cd=2&gl=us

                      Also see Protecting the Innocent by Markman and Cassell ( Paul Cassell is not a federal judge). They determined that for at least 50 years no innocent person has been executed.

                      Yet there have been many people murdered by those already convicted of a murder has Tremoglie's article points out. Had these people been executed 1 of 87 murder victims - at the very least - would have been saved.

                      The danger is not in executing an innocent person it is in letting a guilty person go free - which by the way letting guilty go free is not a foundation of our legal system.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cockney Corner. View Post
                        Yes, that's exactly what you do. The cornerstone of the Criminal Justice System is that it is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than that one innocent man should be punished. That innocent man, might after all, be you.

                        Personally, I don't care about the "ooo, it's so horrible and barbaric" argument. Let 'em suffer. We all die. But isn't it more fitting that they spend forty or fifty years in an eight by ten chamberpot, constantly having to watch their backs.
                        No that 's not true. Letting guilty go free is not a cornerstone of justice system.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=itnstalln;901207]True, but if was started executing speeders, I can guarantee they would never speed again You'd get the same result.

                          QUOTE] So your comparing speeding to murder. Is that what your learning in school?

                          Doctors kill alot of people every year by mistake. You don't get rid of the death penalty because someone may be executed by mistake.
                          Last edited by tony.o; 06-15-2007, 06:13 PM.
                          The liberal politician has the only job where they go to the office to work for everyone but those who pay their salary.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hillstreetblues View Post
                            No that 's not true. Letting guilty go free is not a cornerstone of justice system.
                            He wouldn't know, the UK doesnt have a justice system.
                            The liberal politician has the only job where they go to the office to work for everyone but those who pay their salary.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hillstreetblues View Post
                              Please tell me the names of innocent people who have been executed in the United States.
                              Short answer... Pre Civil Rights Movement, its not a question of IF its more like how many


                              Since modern forensic science had debuted I don't think one had, prior to that I don't know, the structure of DNA wasn't even known until 1953, and PCR the reaction used to amplify the most minute amounts of DNA to usable amounts wasn't invented until 1983. But if with all this technology we are still making mistakes, and using a very sophisticated technology to discover the err of our ways. For example, if DNA technology didn't exist, the people it freed would not have been freed, and would have been executed (eventually most likely).

                              Curtis Edward McCarty - DNA showed someone else raped the girl
                              Ryan Matthews - DNA taken from different sources of physical evidence all pointed to a man who at the time of the discovery was already in jail for another murder

                              Ray Krone - DNA from the victims clothes was not his, actually it did ID another man. Well as positive as 1.3 quadrillion to one that DNA found in saliva on the victim's tank top came from Phillips can be.

                              Charles Irvin Fain - This Vietnam vet was convicted of kidnapping, sexual assault and drowning of 9-year-old Daralyn Johnson, DNA tests show it wasn't his DNA on the physical evidence, but that of 2 other suspects.
                              "88. Earl Washington Virginia Conviction: 1984, Commuted to life: 1994, Absolute Pardon: 2000

                              Earl Washington - suffers from mental retardation. After he was arrested on another charge in 1983, police convinced him to make a statement concerning the rape and murder of a woman in Culpeper in 1982. He later recanted that statement. Subsequent DNA tests confirmed that Washington did not rape the victim, who had lived long enough to state that there was only one perpetrator of the crime. The DNA results combined with the victim's statement all but exonerated Washington. Shortly before leaving office in 1994, Governor Wilder commuted Washington's sentence to life with the possibility of parole. In 2000, additional DNA tests were ordered and the results again excluded Washington as the rapist. In October 2000, Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore granted Earl Washington an absolute pardon. (Statement of Governor Jim Gilmore Regarding the Pardon of Earl Washington, 10/2/00; New York Times, 10/3/00; and Washington Post, 9/24/00, 10/4/00, and 2/15/01)."


                              The danger is not in executing an innocent person it is in letting a guilty person go free - which by the way letting guilty go free is not a foundation of our legal system.
                              I in no way would say that all 203 people exonerated by the innocence project are not innocent. I feel comfortable saying though that at least 15 people were cleared (all acquitted, except for the pardon of the mentally retarded man from VA) of the charge in which they were sentenced to death. Some many not be innocent, I believe one of the guys even admitted to be present at a crime but not actually raping the girl, which DNA later confirmed. Is he innocent, no, but did he commit the crime which carried the death penalty, no.

                              Comment

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