47 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Researchers

We don't kill people to show that killing people is wrong. Even with no sanction, most folks know that committing murder is wrong. The moral confusion exists because some accept the amoral or immoral position that all killing is equal. For those, like some anti-death penalty folks, who believe all killing is morally equivalent, they would equate the slaughter of 6 million innocent Jews and 6-7 million additional innocents with the execution of those guilty murderers committing that slaughter. They would also equate the rape and murder of children with the execution of the rapist/murderer. This is what the anti-death penalty folks do, morally equate killing (murder) with the punishment for that murder, another killing (execution). For such anti-death penalty folks to be consistent, they must also equate holding people against their will (illegal kidnapping) with the sanction for it, the holding people against their will (legal incarceration) or the taking money away from people (illegal robbery) with a sanction for that, taking money away from people (legal restitution). Some anti-death penalty folks are either incapable of knowing the moral differences between crime and punishment, guilty criminals and their innocent victims, or they are knowingly using a dishonest slogan by equating killing (murder) with killing (execution).


Is the death penalty closure? Of course.


For those who have lost loved ones to murder, the execution of the murderer definitely brings closure.

The execution is closure to the legal process, whereby execution is the most just sanction available for the crime and the family is relieved that the murderer is dead and can no longer harm another innocent - a very big deal. (1)

It is the closure of justice.

The confusion with "closure" is when some imply that execution can bring psychological or emotional closure to the devastation suffered by the murder victim's loved ones.

I know of no victim survivor who believes that execution could bring that type of closure. How could it? No punishment can, nor is that the intention.

The concept of emotional "closure" via execution is, often, a fantasy perpetrated by anti death penalty folks, just so they can denounce it, with a talking point, as in: "Those supporting capital punishment claim that closure is a major reason to support the death penalty - but there is no closure."

When pro death penalty folks state that the death penalty brings closure, I think they are, equally, in error.

Do you know of any murder victim survivor who says that their emotional or psychological pain was closed once the murderer was executed? Me neither. And I have known a lot of them.

Murder victim "Mary Bounds' daughter, Jena Watson, who watched the execution, said Berry's action deprived the family of a mother, a grandmother and a friend, and that pain will never go away."

"We feel that we have received justice," she said Wednesday after the execution. "There's never an end to the hurt from a violent crime. There can never fully be closure. You have to learn to do the best you can. Tonight brings finality to a lot of emotional issues."

Ina Prechtl, who lost her daughter Felecia Prechtl. to a rape /murder said, after watching Karl Chamberlain executed: "One question I ask myself every day, why does it take so long for justice to be served?" It took 17 years for the execution. ("Texas executes 1st inmate since injection lull", 6/11/2008, MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer, HUNTSVILLE, Texas)

(1) I agree with Michael that there are some loved ones of the murder victim who oppose the death penalty. There are notable and rare.

From 1995 to 2000," "executions averaged 71 per year, a 21,000 percent increase over the 1966-1980 period. The murder rate dropped from a high of 10.2 (per 100,000) in 1980 to 5.7 in 1999 -- a 44 percent reduction. The murder rate is now at its lowest level since 1966.

Those precautions, plus innumerable others, make up due process of law, the firewall that under our system of justice must be interposed between every defendant and the passion and anger of unbridled vengeance. "The criminal justice system goes to great lengths to take revenge and hatred out of the legal process," says Dudley Sharp of Justice For All, a victims advocacy group.

The death penalty debate in the U.S. is dominated by the fraudulent voice of the anti-death penalty movement. The culture of lies and deceit so dominates that movement that many of the falsehoods are now wrongly accepted as fact, by both advocates and opponents of capital punishment... If you are even casually aware of this public debate, you will note that every category contradicts the well-worn frauds presented by the anti-death penalty movement. The anti-death penalty movement specializes in the abolition of truth. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Opponents equate execution and murder, believing that if two acts have the same ending or result, then those two acts are morally equivalent. This is a morally untenable position. Is the legal taking of property to satisfy a debt the same as auto theft? Both result in loss of property. Are kidnapping and legal incarcerations the same? Both involve imprisonment against one's will. Is killing in self-defense the same as capital murder? Both end in taking human life. Are rape and making love the same? Both may result in sexual intercourse. How absurd. Opponents’ flawed logic and moral confusion mirror their "factual" arguments - there is, often, an absence of reality. The moral confusion of some opponents is astounding. Some equate the American death penalty with the Nazi holocaust. Opponents see no moral distinction between the slaughter of 12 million totally innocent men, women and children and the just execution of society's worst human rights violators. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Another significant oversight by that study was not differentiating between the risk of executing innocent persons before and after Furman v Georgia (1972). There is, in fact, no proof that an innocent has been executed since 1900. And the probability of such a tragedy occurring has been lowered significantly more since Furman. In the context that hundreds of thousands of innocents have been murdered or seriously injured, since 1900, by criminals improperly released by the U.S. criminal justice system (or not incarcerated at all!), the relevant question is: Is the risk of executing the innocent, however slight, worth the justifications for the death penalty - those being retribution, rehabilitation, incapacitation, required punishment, deterrence, escalating punishments, religious mandates, cost savings, the moral imperative, just punishment and the saving of innocent lives? [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

B. THE INCAPACITATION AND THE DETERRENT EFFECTS. SUMMARY - The incapacitation effect saves lives - that is, that by executing murderers you prevent them from murdering again and do, thereby, save innocent life (B.1-4, 7, 9, 10 & 15). The evidence of this is conclusive and incontrovertible. Furthermore, the individual deterrent effect also proves that executions save innocent life (B.7-9 & 11-18). This effect represents those potential murderers who did not murder under specific circumstances because of their fear of execution. There are many, perhaps thousands, of such documented cases, representing many innocent lives saved by the fear of execution. Circumstances dictate that the majority of these cases will never be documented and that the number of innocent lives saved by individual deterrence will be, and has been, much greater than we will ever be able to calculate. Finally, there are more than 30 years of respected academic studies which reveal a general, or systemic, deterrent effect, meaning that there is statistical proof that executions produce fewer murders (B. 7-9 & 11-18). However, such studies are inconclusive because there are also studies that find no such effect - not surprising, as the U.S. has executed only 0.08% of their murderers since 1973. Because such studies are inconclusive, we must choose the option that may save innocent lives. For, if there is a general deterrent effect, and we do execute, then we are saving innocent lives. But, if there is a general deterrent effect and we don’t execute murderers, we are sacrificing innocent lives. If our judgement is in error regarding general deterrence, then such error must be made on the side of saving innocent lives and not on the side of sacrificing innocent lives. This is a moral imperative. Furthermore, the individual deterrent effect could not exist without the general deterrent effect bring present. The individual deterrent effect is proven. Therefore, even though it may be statistically elusive, the general deterrent effect is proven by individual deterrence. Individually and collectively, these three effects present a strong morale argument for executions. Executions save lives. Period. Our choice is to spare the lives of the murderers and to, thereby, sacrifice the lives of the innocent or to execute those murderers and to, thereby, spare the lives of the innocent. What do you choose? [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

The test for deterrence is not whether executions produce lower murder rates, but that executions produce fewer murders than if the death penalty did not exist. For example, the fact that the state of Delaware executes more people per capita (1/87,500) than any other state and has a murder rate 16 times lower than Washington, D.C. (5/100,000 vs 78.5/100,000) is not proof, per se, that the death penalty deters murder in Delaware or that the lack of the death penalty escalates murders and violent crime in Washington, D.C., which has the highest violent crime and murder rates in the U.S. Be careful how you explain and understand deterrence. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

The argument that murderers are the least likely of all criminals to repeat their crimes is not only irrelevant, but also increasingly false. 6% of young adults paroled in 1978 after having been convicted of murder were arrested for murder again within 6 years of release. ("Recidivism of Young Parolees," 4, 1987, BJS). Murderers have so violated the human rights of their victims and of society that it should be a moral imperative that they never again have that opportunity. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Obviously, those executed can’t murder again. "Of the roughly 52,000 state prison inmates serving time for murder in 1984, an estimated 810 had previously been convicted of murder and had killed 821 persons following their previous murder convictions. Executing each of these inmates would have saved 821 lives." (41, 1 Stanford Law Review, 11/88, pg. 153)  Using a 75% murder clearance rate, it is most probable that the actual number of lives saved would have been 1026, or fifty times the number legally executed that year. This suggests that some 10,000 persons have been murdered, since 1971, by those who had previously committed additional murders (JFA). [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Death penalty opponents spend millions of dollars and countless man hours fighting the legal execution of, at most, 56 of our worst human rights violators per year, when they do nothing to fight for the end of those inhumane parole and probation release policies which result in the needless injury and slaughter of the innocent. "The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that convicted criminals free on parole and probation . . . commit ‘at least’ 84,800 violent crimes every year, including 13,200 murders, 12,900 rapes, and 49,500 robberies." American Guardian, May 1997, pg. 26. Incredibly, this slaughter does not include violent crimes committed by repeat offenders who are released and who are not on "supervision". Where is the compassion in honoring the previous victim’s suffering and in protecting the human rights of future victims? Opponents’ actions show virtually no compassion for the victims of violent crime or concern for future victims, yet, they exhibit overwhelming support for those who violate our human rights and murder our loved ones. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

With no death penalty and only life without parole (LWOP), there is no deterrent for LWOP inmates killing others while in prison or after escape. Indeed, there is actually a positive incentive to murder if a criminal has committed a LWOP offense and had not yet been captured. Currently, there are a number of inmates who have killed numerous people in prison or after escape. Their punishment could not be increased because there is no death penalty in those states. Therefore, they will never be punished for those crimes. Never. Totally unacceptable, by any standard. Not surprisingly, … [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Death Penalty opponents claim that there is a "brutalization effect" with executions, meaning, that executions show a low regard for human life and do, thereby, cause an increase in the murder rate. If the brutalization effect is real, it would be the only known legal sanction to cause an increase in wrongful behavior. Why would criminals become more likely to engage in illegal activities because the punishments for those activities become more severe? How absurd. Have dramatic increases in the rates of incarceration resulted in dramatic increases in kidnappings? Just the opposite. Further denouncing the brutalization effect is the fact that many respected studies show that executions do produce an individual and a general deterrent effect. And, there is, of course, common sense. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

There are four rational conclusions one can make regarding general, or systemic, deterrence. (1) If the death penalty is not a deterrent and we execute, then we are executing our worst human rights violators. (2) If the death penalty is a deterrent and we execute, then we are executing those criminals and saving innocent lives. (3) If the death penalty is not a deterrent and we don’t execute, then we are not sacrificing innocent lives. (4) If the death penalty is a deterrent and we don’t execute, then we are sacrificing innocent lives. Regarding deterrence, it is necessary to err on the side of saving innocent life and not to err on the side of sacrificing innocent life. These are moral imperatives. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

There are two mistakes we can make with those convicted of violent crimes. First, we can misjudge their character and keep them incarcerated too long, when they could have become constructive free persons, repaying even more their debt to society and to their victim(s). Secondly, we can misjudge their character and release them too soon, so that they further destroy the lives of our children, our brothers and sisters, our spouses and our parents, creating additional economic, physical, emotional and spiritual loss. For far too long, the U.S. has chosen to err on the side of those who have violated our human rights and has, thereby, expanded the river of blood and tears for victims and their survivors (See B.3). No more. Not in our name. We demand that the memories and suffering of crime victims be honored by justice - that is by a just punishment which reflects the severity of the crime. And, we must always err on the side of caution and compassion for those not yet harmed. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

The most conclusive evidence that criminals fear the death penalty more than life without parole is provided by convicted capital murderers and their attorneys. 99.9% of all convicted capital murderers and their attorneys argue for life, not death, in the punishment phase of their trial. When the death penalty becomes real, murderers fear it the most. While it is obvious that the fear of execution did not deter those murderers from committing a capital crime, it is also clear that such fear is reduced because executions are neither swift nor sure in the U.S. However, as the probability of that punishment rises for those murderers, even they show a great fear of the death penalty. Although you will never deter all murderers, the effect of deterrence will rise as the probability of executions rise. Because, as the probability of executions rises, the fear of that punishment will also rise. And, that which we fear the most deters the most. Indeed, prisoners rate the death penalty as the most feared punishment, much more so than life without parole. Sehba, L. & Nathan, G., "Further Explorations in the Scale of Penalties", British Journal of Criminology, 24:221-249, 1984. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Opponents proclaim that the death penalty is a barbaric act so dreadful in its implications that we can hardly bear to contemplate the horrors of its terrible character. On the other hand, they also assert that potential murderers, when confronted with the horrors of execution, will not be deterred by its infliction upon them. That proposition is, of course, absurd on the face of it (Revised from M. Stanton Evans, Clear and Present Danger). [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Assume that all murderers would instantly die upon murdering. Murderers would then kill only if they wished to die themselves. Murder/suicide is an extremely small component of all murders. Therefore, if a swift and sure death penalty was universally applied to our worst criminals, it is logically conclusive that the death penalty would be a significant deterrent and that many innocent lives would be saved. In fact, swift and sure executions do result in deterrence: (A) The greater the publicity surrounding executions, the greater the deterrent effect. Phillips, D. "The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment". American Journal of Sociology, 86;139-158, 1980: Philipps, D. & Hensley,  J., "When Violence is Rewarded or Punished". J. Commun., 34(3); 101-116, 1984; and the various studies by Prof. Steven Stack, Wayne St. U.(1988-1995) and (B) The higher the rate of execution, the greater the deterrent effect. Lester, D. "Executions As A Deterrent To Homicide", 44:562,1979a and "Deterring Effect of Executions on Murder as a Function of Number and Proportion of Executions", 45:598, 1979b, both from Psychol. Rep. and Wasserman, L.: "Non-deterrent Effect of Executions on Homicide Rates",  Psychol. Rep., 58:137-138, 1981. The State of Delaware has the highest execution rate per capita and low homicide rates. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All

Opponents state that if the death penalty was a deterrent then states that have the death penalty would have a reduced homicide rate.  Delaware, which executes more murderers per capita than any other state in the U.S.A., also has low homicide rates. Furthermore, general or systemic deterrence is not necessarily measured by low or reduced homicide rates, but by rates that are lower than they otherwise would be if the death penalty was not present. Additionally, some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have swift and sure executions and very low violent crime rates. It is not surprising that the U.S., which has executed only 0.06% of its murderers since 1967, does not overtly show a general deterrent effect. While most in the U.S. would not advocate criminal justice systems like that of Saudi Arabia, it is also very clear that the American criminal justice system fosters the additional slaughter of its own innocent citizens. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

The highest murder rate in Houston (Harris County), Texas occurred in 1981, with 701 murders. Texas resumed executions in 1982. Since that time, Houston (Harris County) has executed more murderers than any other city or state (except Texas) AND has seen the greatest reduction in murder, 701 in 1981 down to 261 in 1996 - a 63% reduction, representing a 270% differential! (FBI, UCR, 1982 & Houston Chronicle, 2/1/97, pg. 31A). [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Many opponents present, as fact, that the cost of the death penalty is so expensive (at least $2 million per case?), that we must choose life without parole ('LWOP') at a cost of $1 million for 50 years.  Predictably, these pronouncements may be entirely false. JFA estimates that LWOP cases will cost $1.2 million - $3.6 million more than equivalent death penalty cases.

There is no question that the up-front costs of the death penalty are significantly higher than for equivalent LWOP cases. There also appears to be no question that, over time, equivalent LWOP cases are much more expensive... than death penalty cases. Opponents ludicrously claim that the death penalty costs, over time, 3-10 times more than LWOP. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Death penalty opponents claim that 'Since 1973, 102 (now 114) people in 25 states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence,'

That is a blatantly false claim...

What is the real number of actual innocents released from death row?

A review of the DPIC [Death Penalty Information Center] 102 case descriptions finds that only about 32 claim actual innocence, with alleged proof to support the claim. 12 of those 32 are DNA cases. That is 32 cases out of about 7,300 death sentences since 1973, or 0.4%...

And there is no proof of an innocent executed within the US since 1900.

Some supporters of a moratorium and death penalty opponents claim that a concern for innocents is why they want to halt executions. Yet, history and reason confirm that an end to executions will result in more innocents harmed and murdered. ..

At least 8% of those on death row had committed one or more murders prior to the murder(s) which put them on death row, suggesting that with 7,300 sentenced to death, since 1973, that those sent to death row had murdered at least 600 additional innocents after we failed to properly restrain them after their previous murder(s)...

It currently takes nearly 12 years to execute those sentenced to death. And some elected officials are debating a moratorium on executions. Yet, under all debated scenarios, halting executions will put more innocents at risk."

No one disputes that an innocent sentenced to death is a horrible result. Appeals and commutation/clemency deliberations are an integral and inescapable part of a criminal justice system that both anticipate error and provide remedy. Both sides of the death penalty debate are equally concerned about the moral implication of executing an innocent. Those of us who support execution recognize that any innocents sentenced to death or executed injure our position.

A concern for the innocent will result in a rejection of a moratorium and more support for executions. Either by a moratorium, or by outright repeal, stopping executions will always put many more innocents at risk. Death penalty opponents knows this. Their alleged concern for innocents is but another distortion based campaign to end the death penalty.

When reason and all the facts prevail, support for executions will rise.

The most vile strategy of death penalty opponents is their use of propaganda to nurture hatreds and mistrust between race and class…

Is Sister Prejean saying that poor minorities are incapable of stopping themselves from committing capital murder!? Not only are Sister Prejean’s statements false, they are also grossly insulting to the poor and to minorities. Over 99% of all persons, including poor minorities, restrain themselves from committing capital murder. And there is, of course, no excuse for anyone that commits capital murder…

In the most extensive study of the economics of death row inmates, it was shown that, while 74% of Georgia murderers were poor, only 38% of those on Georgia’s death row were poor…there is no consensus in statistical analysis which proves that wealthy capital murders are less likely to be executed than their poorer ilk. In fact, statistics indicate that wealthy capital murderers may be more likely to be executed…

Murderers are put to death, not based on the...economic status of the victim or the murderer, but based upon death penalty statutes, the aggravated nature of and all specific circumstances of the crime, the criminal background of the murderer, and the other specific factors mandated by Supreme Court decisions. Since 1973, there is absolutely no credible evidence to support any other conclusion. [DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION in the United States 1 October 1997 by Dudley Sharp, Death Penalty Resources Director, Justice For All]

Dudley Sharp: Far more innocents would die without the death penalty

4:50 PM Wed, Dec 15, 2010

What is the anti-death penalty movement's biggest shortcoming? What arguments fall flat?

In the 1970s, the anti-death penalty folks realized that they were losing the moral debate and, therefore, began attacking the implementation of the death penalty, pursuing those issues -- race, costs, etc. -- until they no longer reaped benefits, and then they moved on to the next issue, which, today, is the risk to innocents. Just last month, an Angus-Reid poll found U.S. death penalty support at 83 percent, even while 81 percent said that innocents had been executed. That 83 percent is the highest poll support I have seen since 1980, in regard to the general death penalty question. All of the anti-death penalty arguments fall flat. The general anti-death penalty arguments are false or the general pro-death penalty arguments are stronger than the opposition.

What argument against the death penalty has the most merit? And what is your response to it?

I support the death penalty as a just sanction for some crimes and I also conclude that it saves additional innocent lives. Consequently, the anti death penalty claims that the sanction is unjust and should be abolished because of the threat to innocents are those claims of greatest interest to me and would have the most merit, if true. The subjective conflict which exists between the just and the unjust has always been of foundational importance for humanity and that will never change. Factually, innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

There is no consensus of even one innocent executed in the US since 1973, when the modern death penalty era began in Texas, or from 1900, for that matter. Conversely, we know that known murderers do harm and murder again. This is undisputed and there are many horrendous examples. Since 1973, US criminals released on parole, probation and other early release programs are likely to have murdered close to 100,000 innocents while they were under government supervision. Of all the government institutions that do put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of protecting the actual innocent than the death penalty? Likely not. Because of enhanced due process, enhanced deterrence and enhanced incapacitation, the death penalty protects actual innocents more than life without parole. It is curious why the Dallas Morning News opposes the death penalty based upon the risk to innocents, but not other institutions, which evidence far more lethal error. All human institutions are flawed. If we favor institutions, we encourage their continuance, with a goal of improvement. If we oppose an institution, we favor its end, regardless of its safety or efforts for improvement, as the DMN opposes executions, while turning a blind eye to other criminal justice practices responsible for such slaughter. It does not appear that there really is an innocence issue with anti death penalty folks, but there is a belief that all murderers no matter how vile or destructive, must be allowed to live. Many others believe that murderers have sacrificed their right to live, just as many other criminals have sacrificed their right to freedom. In addition, there are 25 recent studies which find for death penalty deterrence, which appear to average about 10 homicides prevented for every execution and an additional number prevented as a result of giving a death sentence.

Even though you find yourself often defending the system, there must be some aspects of the process you would change? What reform is needed in the way carry out lethal justice in Texas?

I don't defend the system so much as I defend an accurate picture of the system. The abuse of the appellate system, inclusive of the abuse of the writ of habeas corpus, is a problem in Texas, even more so nationally. Strict rules for the timing of appeals should become law and should be encouraged by the judiciary. On average, full appeals should take no longer than 6-8 years as in Virginia. Such would allow a full airing of all issues, concurrent review of direct appeals and writs, without the injustice of unnecessary delay. The complaint that this would put more innocents at risk is without merit. Based upon legitimate cases of actual innocents, as opposed to the blatant deceptions of the exonerated list from the Death Penalty Information Center, we would be exposing the cases of actual innocence at an earlier time in the process, than we do now.

You want to speed up appeals, but in the case of Anthony Graves, it wasn't until his 12th year on death row that a federal court realized a relatively small legal error and ordered a new trial. He has since been exonerated. Does that example not shake your confidence in the appeals process?

Graves wasn't executed and look at all of the other innocents we know have died. If appeals were sped up to be finished in six to eight years, Graves would have been released four to six years earlier than he was. Please consider Graves,a single innocent sentenced to death and not executed, horribly treated and compare that to the actual innocents murdered and the innocents spared by deterrence. Some acknowledgement of perspective and proportion is required.

Sunday 12 June 2011 - Critics, such as death penalty expert and proponent Dudley Sharp, of Houston, contends the use of the words "innocent" or "exonerated" is misleading because some many of the 138 do not fall into either category.

"We know that some former death row inmates are truly innocent," Sharp said. “But some got off death row because of legal errors and other causes — not because they are actually innocent.”

"There's no constitutional right of defense attorneys to not be fired. If the inmate doesn't want to appeal, he can waive his rights, fire his attorneys and move on to be executed," said Dudley Sharp, founder of Justice Matters and a vocal backer of capital punishment. "The problem in California is that the judiciary does everything it can to draw out a case."

Death penalty support is based upon the sanctity of life, just as incarceration is based upon a reverence for freedom. [Enforcing penalty saves lives By Dudley Sharp 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, 2012]


The death penalty has greater due process than other sanctions. Therefore, innocents are more likely to die as an innocent in prison, than they are likely to be executed. There is no reliable claim of an innocent person being executed in the United States, at least since the 1930s. There is a continuous fraud relating to those who are “exonerated” from death row. The current false number is 140. Extensive, separate and well-publicized reviews find the real numbers are in the 25 to 40 range of the truly innocent being discovered and released from death row. That reflects a 99.6 percent accuracy rate in findings of guilt. Some claim 67 percent of death sentences are overturned on appeal. Actually, it’s 38 percent. [Enforcing penalty saves lives By Dudley Sharp 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, 2012]

We do know, under almost all circumstances, we would chose life over death, just as many potential murderers also fear death more than life. Whether crime rates are high or low, rising or falling, criminal sanctions deter some in all jurisdictions.

What we fear the most deters the most. [Enforcing penalty saves lives By Dudley Sharp 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, 2012]

Justice finds that some murderers have sacrificed their right to live, just as other criminals have sacrificed their right to freedom.

By enforcing the death penalty, we save additional innocent lives that deserve to be saved. [Enforcing penalty saves lives By Dudley Sharp 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, 2012]

Dudley Sharp was the Vice President, Political Director, Chairman of the Endorsement Committee and member of the Board of Directors of Justice For All from July 1993 to January 2000. Formerly the Resource Director for JFA until 2003. Justice For All is a criminal justice reform organization based in Houston, Texas. Mr. Sharp created the process for endorsing political candidates, forming a political endorsement committee, investigating the background of candidates, developing a questionnaire used to explore the candidates true positions on criminal justice and victim’s issues resulting in a committee recommendation for endorsements. Formerly an opponent of capital punishment, in December 1995 he made himself a death penalty expert and changed his position.

The risk that a violent criminal faces from execution is much greater than the risk of a police officer being killed. In 2005, there were almost 16,700 murders in the United States and 60 executions. That translates to one execution for every 278 murders. In other words, a murderer is 20 times more likely to be executed than a police officer is to be deliberately or accidentally killed on duty. (John Lott: Death as Deterrent Wednesday, June 20, 2007)

Those who argue that the death penalty has no effect on violent crime assume that the risk of execution in no way deters criminals from committing capital crimes. While criminals, just like police officers, are naturally less adverse to danger than, say, school teachers or accountants, the notion that it is irrational for them to take into account such an enormous additional risk is irrational.

But a non-trivial issue is how to define the execution rate. It actually matters a lot.

When defined as executions per murder committed, academics find that the death penalty deters murders and saves lives.  (John Lott: Death as Deterrent Wednesday, June 20, 2007)

There is widespread public debate over the effectiveness of the death penalty. Unfortunately, this has included some misleading reporting in the popular press. Take a widely publicized New York Times study that compared murder rates in 1998 in states with and without the death penalty. The Times concluded that capital punishment was ineffective in reducing crime, noting that “10 of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the national average ... while half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average.”

This simple comparison really doesn’t prove anything. The 12 states without the death penalty have long enjoyed relatively low murder rates due to factors unrelated to capital punishment. (John Lott: Death as Deterrent Wednesday, June 20, 2007)

When the death penalty was suspended nationwide from 1968 to 1976, the murder rate in these 12 states still was lower than in most other states. What is much more important is that the states that reinstituted the death penalty had about a 38 percent larger drop in murder rates by 1998. (John Lott: Death as Deterrent Wednesday, June 20, 2007)

Some claimed that the Supreme Court’s Miranda decision — mandating that suspects be read their rights during arrest — reduced criminal confessions and otherwise hindered convictions. Other theories blamed softer criminal penalties or lower arrest rates. Back in the 1970s these studies were generally inconclusive, however, due to the poor quality of the data available at the time, especially a lack of crime statistics by state.

This research was conducted as violent crime rates were plummeting while executions were rising sharply. Between 1991 and 2000, there were 9,114 fewer murders per year, while the number of executions per year rose by 71.

Generally, the studies over the last decade that examined how the murder rates in each state changed as they changed their execution rate found that each execution saved the lives of roughly 15 to 18 potential murder victims. Overall, the rise in executions during the 1990s accounts for about 12 to 14 percent of the overall drop in murders. (John Lott: Death as Deterrent Wednesday, June 20, 2007)

John Richard Lott Jr. (born May 8, 1958) is an American academic and conservative political commentator. He has previously held research positions at academic institutions including the University of Chicago, Yale University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Maryland, College Park, and at the non-academic American Enterprise Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA, and his areas of research include econometrics, law and economics, public choice theory, industrial organization, public finance, microeconomics, labor economics, and environmental regulation. Lott is an author in both academia and in popular culture. He is a frequent writer of opinion editorials, has published over 90 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals related to his research areas, and has authored five books, including More Guns, Less Crime, The Bias Against Guns, and Freedomnomics. Outside of academia, Lott is best known for his participation in the gun rights debate, particularly his arguments against restrictions on owning and carrying guns. He is also known for taking conservative positions on a wide range of political issues.

David B. Muhlhausen, PhD, Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis, wrote in his Aug. 28, 2007 article “The Death Penalty Deters Crime and Saves Lives,” posted on www.heritage.org, that:


“As of December 2005, there were 37 prisoners under a sentence of death in the federal system. Of these prisoners, 43.2 percent were white, while 54.1 percent were African–American. The fact that African–Americans are a majority of federal prisoners on death row and a minority in the overall United States population may lead some to conclude that the federal system discriminates against African–Americans. However, there is little rigorous evidence that such disparities exist in the federal system…

Americans support capital punishment for two good reasons. First, there is little evidence to suggest that minorities are treated unfairly. Second, capital punishment produces a strong deterrent effect that saves lives.”


David B. Muhlhausen, PhD, Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, in testimony delivered on June 27, 2007 before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, stated:


"The recent studies using panel data techniques have confirmed what we learned decades ago: Capital punishment does, in fact, save lives... Over the years, several studies have demonstrated a link between executions and decreases in murder rates. In fact, studies done in recent years, using sophisticated panel data methods, consistently demonstrate a strong link between executions and reduced murder incidents. Using a panel data set of over 3,000 counties from 1977 to 1996, Professors Hashem Dezhbakhsh [and] Shepherd of Emory University found that each execution, on average, results in 18 fewer murders  (268KB)...

They found that executions had a highly significant negative relationship with murder incidents. Additionally, the implementation of state moratoria is associated with the increased incidence of murders... While opponents of capital punishment allege that it is unfairly used against African–Americans, each additional execution deters the murder of 1.5 African–Americans. Further moratoria, commuted sentences, and death row removals appear to increase the incidence of murder... Americans support capital punishment for two good reasons. First, there is little evidence to suggest that minorities are treated unfairly. Second, capital punishment produces a strong deterrent effect that saves lives."

David Muhlhausen, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said he thinks the drop in executions largely has been a result of a national decline in murder rates and longer appeals processes for death row inmates.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, inmates executed in 2010 — the most recent year for which statistics were available — had been under sentence of death an average of 14 years and 10 months, which was nine months longer than those executed in 2009.

Mr. Muhlhausen, who supports the death penalty, said he does not expect executions to increase anytime soon unless the legal process is expedited.

Although he is reluctant to call for such reforms because they could increase the likelihood of wrongful executions, he said, the death penalty should be kept in place to punish the nation’s most violent offenders and serve as a deterrent.

“Each additional execution, in fact, saves lives,” he said. “And that’s something opponents don’t consider.”

David B. Muhlhausen is a leading expert on criminal justice programs in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. A Research Fellow in Empirical Policy Analysis at the think tank, Muhlhausen has testified frequently before Congress on the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement grants administered by the U.S. Justice Department

From 2001 to 2007, 12 academic studies were carried out in the US that examined the impact of the death penalty on local crime rates. They explored the hypothesis that as the potential cost of an action increases, so people are deterred from doing it. Nine out of twelve of the studies concluded that the death penalty saves lives. Some of their findings are stunning. Professors at Emory University determined that each execution deters an average of 18 murders. Another Emory study found that speeding up executions strengthens deterrence: for every 2.75 years cut from an inmate’s stay on death row, one murder would be prevented. Illinois has just voted to stop executions across the state. According to a University of Houston study, that could be a fatal mistake. It discovered that an earlier Illinois moratorium in 2000 encouraged 150 additional homicides in four years. (As Britain debates the death penalty again, studies from America confirm that it works By Tim Stanley US politics August 5th, 2011)

Opponents will point out that the death penalty is practiced in the states with the highest murder rates. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that executions don’t work – it just means that they take place where they are needed most. The states without the death penalty historically have lower than average levels of crime. When the death penalty was suspended nationwide from 1968 to 1976, murder rates went through the roof – except in those states. When the ban was lifted, the states that reintroduced the death penalty saw an astonishing 38 per cent fall in their murder rate over twenty years. Indeed, there is a statistical relationship between the growth in executions and the decline in murder. (As Britain debates the death penalty again, studies from America confirm that it works By Tim Stanley US politics August 5th, 2011)

According to one anti-death penalty group, “The California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping convicts locked up for life. Taxpayers have paid more than $250 million for each of the state’s executions.” But the reason for the decades criminals spend waiting for their execution is simple: money-hungry lawyers and sympathetic liberals keep on appealing their sentences. (As Britain debates the death penalty again, studies from America confirm that it works By Tim Stanley US politics August 5th, 2011)

But for anyone who wallows in the superiority of the UK justice system, with its human rights legislation and touchy-feely approach to child murderers, it is worth bearing in mind that our rate of violent crime is actually far higher than that of the United States. According to a 2009 study, there were 2,034 offences per 100,000 people that year in the UK, putting Britain at the top of the international league table. America recorded just 466. The US seems to be getting something right: executing cold-blooded killers might be part of it. (As Britain debates the death penalty again, studies from America confirm that it works By Tim Stanley US politics August 5th, 2011)

Dr. Tim Stanley is a research fellow in American History at Royal Holloway College.