54 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Researchers III

When LWOP is the most you can get, ever, you have handed dangerous and violent inmates a license to kill.

Although this inmate was serving LWOP for a non-homicide offense, the complete abolition of the DP would allow previously convicted killers in exactly this inmate's situation (LWOP) to kill again with impunity, and the circumstances in which they could do so are likely to be very similar to the circumstances of this case. In other words, abolitionism, while claiming the moral high ground, is the sure road to preventable murder. When LWOP is the most you can get, ever, you have handed dangerous and violent inmates a license to kill. - Commented on Life Sentences and Incapacitation January 30, 2011 3:58 PM

Friday 25 March 2011 - Abolitionists simply are not being up front with us when they talk about imprisonment with NO chance of parole. This is demonstrated, not only by the current attempts in the legislature, but even more by understanding the emotive wellsprings of the abolitionist movement.

The single most important element in abolitionist motivation is the belief that society is too harsh and the killer is himself a victim. You can see this just by reading what defense lawyers say all the time in capital sentencing memos.

With that belief as the anchor, OF COURSE they don't really mean it when they say "never." That is just a tactical ploy in the present, anti-DP struggle. Real LWOP is, in the abolitionist worldview, something that a fair and decent system could never impose on the socially deprived and downtrodden.

Ladies and gentlemen, they don't believe in punishment AT ALL, not in the sense that normal people would understand. They're lying. There is, unfortunately, not a whole lot more to it than that.

When I was an AUSA in Virginia, I was peripherally involved in a case against a drug gang that operated in both Alexandria and across the Potomac River in DC.

As often happens, the gang was in competition with a rival gang. To deal with this problem, one of the fellows in Gang A was assigned to murder one of the fellows in Gang B, to establish that the price of this unwelcome competition was going to be real steep.

The designated shooter from Gang A (who was Alexandria based) managed to convince the target in Gang B (who was also Alexandria based) to take a drive with him. The plan was to take him to an unpleasant section of DC to kill him. Things unraveled, however, and the whole thing fizzled before any damage was done.

Since this involved both drugs and an interstate murder plot, the USAO was pretty interested. We caught the fellow from Gang A. One of the agents interviewing him asked why the plan was so complicated -- i.e., why take the risk and delay of driving into DC to kill the target when it would have been a good deal simpler just to ambush him in Alexandria?

Mr. Gang A answered: "Because DC ain't got no death penalty."

The idea that the DP has no deterrent value is not merely mistaken, but delusional.

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008 - The abolitionist argument that, I believe, gives most people pause is the observation that, because of errors and biases in the system, an innocent person might be executed, and if that happens, there's no going back. No honest person can deny that possibility. But the "evidence" that such a thing has actually happened in anything like recent times simply does not exist (see, e.g., Justice Scalia's concurring opinion in Kansas v. Marsh). There is no case accepted by any neutral and authoritative source for at least 40 years that we have executed an innocent person. There have been some exonerations from death row, true. But mere erroneous convictions are not the moral engine of abolitionism, and are impossible to avoid in any alternative system, including the one abolitionists most frequently suggest (life without parole). Murders by incarcerated killers are also impossible to avoid, and in fact have happened by the dozen, because prisons are at least as fallible as courtrooms. 

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008 - Accordingly, the fact of fallibility does not, as abolitionists frequently argue, mean that the death penalty must stop. It means that we must choose which fallibility is likely to kill the smaller number of innocent people -- prison errors or judicial ones. Not surprisingly, the factual record is unambiguous as to which kind of error is actually the most lethal to the innocent. 

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008 - And none of this is to speak to the deterrent effect of the death penalty. Deterrence undoubtedly will be the subject of future entries here. Suffice it to say for now that a spate of studies over the last few years, by independent researchers with no axe to grind, has found almost uniformly that the death penalty saves lives, even while reaching varying conclusions on its exact quantitative effect. 

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008 - Natasha argues that the death penalty is too expensive, certainly compared to the costs of life without parole (LWOP), and that we would be smarter and safer if we used the money currently invested in seeking capital punishment for more effective police work and other public safety programs. I would make several points in response.

1. Those who do their best to drive up the cost of capital prosecutions by filing multitudinous motions, including numerous eve-of-execution motions, are not ideally positioned, in a debate of this kind, to try to leverage the expenses they do everything they can to balloon. Moreover, the majority of these motions are not designed to make sure we have the "real killer;" to the contrary, motions contesting factual guilt are by far the exception, not the rule. The procedure-oriented motions that actually get filed are mostly devoid of merit, and, with all respect, more than a few are just gaming the system.

2. While I'm happy to see a representative of the ACLU speak up in favor of expanded police power to help keep us safe, I have some trouble reconciling that with the more typical ACLU position, which is that even the present extent of police power is excessive if not affirmatively dangerous.

3. I am no expert on the finances of either capital punishment or imprisonment, but I believe there is room to question the undocumented assertion that death penalty litigation costs more, and perhaps vastly more, than LWOP. If a murderer is imprisoned at 30 and dies at 70, the taxpayers will be on the hook for 40 years of incarceration. With the elaborate additional security that will be needed for inmates of this type -- killers who'll know they have nothing but canteen privileges to lose by doing it again -- the costs of 40 years' imprisonment are certain to be enormous.

4. Assuming arguendo that capital litigation does indeed cost substantially more than LWOP, however, the question whether it's worth the candle is for the taxpayers to decide. It is well known that these prosecutions are costly (well known because abolitionists make sure that it is). Despite this, public support for the death penalty is overwhelming, and has grown over the last few years from slightly less than two-thirds to slightly more.

5. The centerpiece of the argument -- that we are safer without capital punishment and its costs than with it -- is demonstrably incorrect. Indeed, recent history proves beyond sensible dispute that we are more secure when executions are carried out and more endangered when they are not.

In the late sixties and seventies, the United States had a virtual moratorium on executions. From the end of 1965 through 1980, there were only six of them. Over that same 15-year period, the murder rate DOUBLED. It rose from 5.1 murder victims per 100,000 to 10.2. The number of murders in 1965 was slightly less than 10,000; the number in 1980 was 23,040 -- an increase of somewhat more than 13,000 murder victims.

When the moratorium petered out and executions began again in significant numbers, a very different picture emerged. In the 15-year period from 1991 to 2005 (inclusive), there were 861 executions. In that same period, the murder rate dropped from 9.8 to 5.5 -- a decrease of 44%. The number of murder victims decreased from 24,700 to about 16,200. In other words, with the end of the moratorium and the resumption of executions, there were more than 8000 fewer murder victims in a single year. To my knowledge, no one has claimed, much less shown, that funneling more money to the police will result in anything approaching that improvement.

Of course it may well be that circumstances in addition to the resumption of capital punishment contributed to the precipitous decline in the murder rate. But to say that we would be safer by eliminating the death penalty simply blinks the reality of the last 40 years. 

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008The question has been posed whether, if there were proof, instead of mere insistence, that an innocent person had been executed in the modern era, I would become an abolitionist.

I would not, for several reasons.

First, while the state's taking the life of an innocent person is, to say the least, an extremely bad thing, the real world demands that we ask: what are the alternatives?

In the wake of 9-11, we launched the war in Afghanistan, knowing that we would wind up killing hundreds or perhaps thousands of innocent people  --  which has happened, and will continue to happen as long as we are engaged there.  Our citizens know this, but support the war in overwhelming numbers.


Because the alternative is worse.

The killing of innocent people that our war entails is acceptable because of what we get for it, namely, the demolition of terrorist infrastructure.  This was also true in World War II on a far larger scale.  We killed thousands of innocent Germans and Japanese, including children, knowing full well what we were doing.  We did it anyway, because the alternative was a fascist empire ruling the world.

Accordingly, whether we should bear the moral cost of killing the innocent is not, as abolitionists surmise, a question that answers itself.   It depends on what we get in exchange.

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008This trade-off is recognized in ordinary law as well.  The law of self-defense permits an individual (including a police officer acting as an agent of the state) to use deadly force when he reasonably, though mistakenly, believes he is facing an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death.  The reason we permit police and others to kill even when they are wrong is that we want to preserve their right effectively to defend themselves in the far more numerous instances when they are right.

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008 - We value a justice that, in extreme cases, can say "enough" and make it stick.  There are still the John Couey's, Clarence Ray Allen's, and Timothy McVeigh's of this world.  Their guilt is beyond rational doubt.  Abolitionists notwithstanding, they are not "distractions," and the desire to execute them does not take root in a petulant anger, much less barbarism. The desire to execute Couey & Co. is, instead, the desire for the only punishment that fits.  Preserving society's right to impose the death penalty, even knowing that there is a (miniscule) risk of executing the innocent, is, in short, worth the justice we get in exchange.

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008 - If we abandon capital punishment, the killers who would have been executed are not going to disappear.  They are going to prison.  Those who work in prisons provide as much security as they possibly can, since they don't want to fall victim to a direct attack, or get hurt (or killed) having to intervene in a fight among inmates or inmate gangs.  But even with the strongest incentives to make prisons safe, it cannot be done infallibly.  Indeed, more than 100 defendants found guilty of capital murder since Gregg was decided were already in prison when they murdered their victims.  (I am putting to one side here the dozens of additional murders commited by inmates who escaped or were erroneously released).

The Federalist Society Online Debate Series Death Penalty June 19, 2008 – The point abolitionists miss (or more likely avoid) is that inescapable human fallibility is massively more likely to result in the deaths of innocent people if we keep determined killers in prison than if we execute them.   So it turns out that in the calculus of trade-off's between capital punishment and life imprisonment, the death penalty achieves more than simply deserved justice, although that would be enough.  It achieves the saving of innocent life on a scale imprisonment has shown it cannot even approach. 

The moral engine of the innocence-based argument for abolishing the death penalty is that we risk executing a person who DIDN'T DO IT. The question our citizens are interested in is factual guilt, not legalism: Do we have the right guy or not? 

The notion that one needs to be God to know whether we have the right guy is preposterous. One need not be God, for example, to know that McVeigh did it. One need only pay minimal attention to the evidence. Mr. Dieter certainly knows this.

Of course there is a chance that we COULD execute an innocent person, since we are human beings. There is also a chance that someone we could legally have executed but didn't will take another innocent life, or several of them. Indeed, that latter prospect in not merely a possibility; it has happened. The two best known examples are Kenneth McDuff and Clarence Ray Allen. At least a half dozen innocent people died because McDuff and Allen remained alive. Did those people not also have rights?

Let's cut through the fancy dance. To say that a person has been "exonerated" of murder will be taken, and is intended to be taken (whatever the fine print disclaimer may be), as a statement that the person didn't do it. As Mr. Dieter meanderingly acknowledges through the fog of carefully chosen words, no such thing is true.

It has been 34 years and more than 1100 executions since the Supreme Court restored the death penalty, and NOT ONE SINGLE TIME has anyone proved in court, or come close to proving, that an innocent person has been executed. That being the case, it is a confession of weakness rather than a declaration of strength to continue to make these de facto claims of innocence. [Commenting on Why 'exonerated' needs to be used sparingly By Michael Landauer/Editor in the Dallas Morning News on Friday 9 April 2010]

Abolitionists conjecture that we have executed ___ number of innocent people in the past several years (Fill in any number you want. Why not? They do.)

What is not a matter of conjecture is that numerous innocent people have been murdered by previously convicted killers who legally were subject to the DP but had not been put to death. These killers exploited our inexplicable delay, moral confusion and irresolution by continuing on their merry way.

Now yet another person has paid the price for abolitionism's moral preening.

Will this stop them? Has it ever? What will actually happen is that this latest murder will be ignored or dismissed as a "tragedy" in the same sense an earthquake is a tragedy.

We can't do anything about an earthquake but we can sure as hell do something about this and similar episodes. What we have here is the gruesome result of impenetrable moral opaqueness masquerading as high-mindedness.

Abolitionists should cover themselves in shame, if they had any. - Commented on Life Sentences and Incapacitation January 30, 2011 3:58 PM

Abolish the Bus Tours! March 12, 2011 3:58 PM | Posted by Bill Otis – Under abolitionist theory, it's time to ban bus tours (indeed, Gov. Quinn should immediately sign a bill doing so).  Bus tours are licensed by state governments and use publicly funded highways.  Such explicit government approval and facilitation is given knowing in advance that crashes are possible (indeed that they have happened many times), and that innocents will be killed.  Furthermore, there is not and never will be a way to establish infallibly safe bus tours.  Finally, bus tours have never been known to provide "closure." 

Abolish the Bus Tours! March 12, 2011 3:58 PM | Posted by Bill Otis - Indeed.  Of course abolishing bus tours would be nonsense, and no serious person supports doing it.  This is because, notwithstanding the prospect -- indeed, the certainty  --  that they will kill innocent people, they produce enough by way of enjoyment that they're worth the candle.

Abolish the Bus Tours! March 12, 2011 3:58 PM | Posted by Bill Otis - Any lessons here?  The death penalty produces something a good deal more important than enjoyment, that being the only justice that befits particularly gruesome crimes.  And it has killed many fewer innocent people than bus tours.  (Indeed, it has killed zero innocent people in the modern era, so far as any neutral source has shown).

If we're going to keep bus tours, a fortiori we should keep the death penalty.  Just don't try arguing this to an abolitionist, analysis being no match for certitude. 

It was a case about which death penalty abolitionists were notably silent, perhaps struck, for once, with the reality that there are some crimes so mind-bending in their scope and cruelty that no normal person could regard a prison sentence as justice. It's a lesson they soon forgot.  Today they might take time to remember. - Oklahoma City

We don't need to end the death penalty.  We need to end the limitless indulgence we have given those who seek to bleed us dry to evade it. (Saving on Capital Defense Costs August 17, 2011 11:19 AM)


Mr. Schwartz is also correct in noting that I said, as I have said many times here and elsewhere, that, human beings and human institutions being fallible, there is a risk of executing an innocent person.  But the article missed my main point, which was this:  There is a lethal risk whichever way we turn.  The judicial system is fallible (although in the post-Gregg era of super due process, the likelihood of error has been considerably reduced).  But there is also fallibility -- indeed, experience shows, vastly greater fallibility -- in the corrections system.  Because of its errors, there is an enhanced likelihood of losing the life of an innocent person when we do not impose the death penalty.  Indeed it is not merely a likelihood.  It's a matter of documented fact.

This is true mostly when convicted murderers get sent to prison and do it again, this time to another inmate, or a guard, counselor, rival gang member, etc.  Murders like that happen frequently; you read about one every few weeks.  But it has also happened even when prison security, as usually thought of, works just fine. [A NYT Writer Has His Say |Bill Otis

It was, I submit, an incorrect portrayal of my views to cut them off after I said that, when we impose the death penalty, there is a chance of executing an innocent person.  At least one additional phrase should have been added, to wit, that there is a considerably greater chance that the law will implicate itself in killing an innocent person if we abolish the death penalty. [A NYT Writer Has His Say |Bill Otis

Mr. Davis’s execution and the crusade it ignited ultimately bring to bear larger questions of a longing for an end to seemingly endless appeals.

William Otis, a former federal prosecutor and special White House counsel under the first President George Bush, said “there has to be finality for any system that’s going to work,” but added: “To say that there has to be finality is not to say that things should be rushed. The primary duty of courts is to get it right.”

A problem for Mr. Davis’s defenders, he said, is that judges tend to look at recantations, especially from witnesses who are in prison, “with a flinty eye.”

Mr. Otis added: “The question is not whether you can avoid errors. The only realistic question in an adult mind is which set of errors you’re going to accept. You have to be mature and honest about it, and understand there is the risk of executing an innocent person.”

The idea that a sentence of imprisonment, no matter what its length, would be adequate justice for this calculated crime, undertaken against an uncomprehending person for sheer hate, is beyond preposterous. [Why We Have the Death Penalty October 19, 2011 7:28 AM]

And when our legal system comes to understand that the death penalty is a form of societal self-protection, as well as a just punishment for sadistic murder, the balance between procedure and substance will shift. [All the Process that was due January 6, 2012 10:05 AM | Posted by Bill Otis]

How could any sensate person believe that this crime merits no more than a term of imprisonment? [Reasons We Have the Death Penalty, Part Eight Zillion July 13, 2010 4:07 PM | Posted by Bill Otis]

I suppose the EU will object when the death penalty is sought -- yet another reason to ignore foreign law. [Reasons We Have the Death Penalty, Part Eight Zillion July 13, 2010 4:07 PM | Posted by Bill Otis]

How many times have we been told that "prison will keep us as safe as the death penalty"?  The people who say this are well aware of (indeed they're obsessed with) the fact that the judicial system is fallible -- but apparently oblivious to the fact that the penal system is also fallible. [Prison Will Keep Us As Safe as the Death Penalty – Not August 20, 2010 10:29 AM | Posted by Bill Otis]

One of the rallying cries of abolitionism is that life without parole will keep us just as safe as the death penalty. There are so many things wrong with this assurance it's difficult to know where to start.  For one thing, today's life without parole can become tomorrow's parole board hearing; if the death penalty can be changed, so can its promised successor. [We're Just As Safe with LWOP. Honest. January 21, 2012 1:00 AM | Posted by Bill Otis

In addition, the whole rationale of abolitionism tells you that the stout promise of LWOP isn't really sincere.  A polestar of abolitionism is that even the worst people can change, and that the death penalty forecloses all hope of redemption and a return to civil society.  But of course so does LWOP. [We're Just As Safe with LWOP. Honest. January 21, 2012 1:00 AM | Posted by Bill Otis]

At the core of abolitionist thinking is a moral irresolution that will never abide life without parole.  No sooner will the ink be dry on the statute ending the death penalty than the push will be on to banish LWOP as simply the death penalty in slow motion, and thus even more cruel and backward. [We're Just As Safe with LWOP. Honest. January 21, 2012 1:00 AM | Posted by Bill Otis]

Of course the main thing wrong with the promise that LWOP will keep us as safe as the death penalty is simply that it's false. [We're Just As Safe with LWOP. Honest. January 21, 2012 1:00 AM | Posted by Bill Otis

Commented on January 22, 2012 Another tough case — murder of guard by murderer serving LWOP — for death penalty abolitionist crowd [SENTENCING LAW AND POLICY BLOG] - I don't think the problem is cynicism. I think the problem is that abolitionists allow fallibility to become paralysis.

One can ask questions until the cows come home. The problem with infinite doubt is that it disables us from executing anyone at all, e.g., Timothy McVeigh. As that example and many others illustrate, no reasonable person could claim that there are no cases so clearcut that to continue to doubt is just frivolous.

There is room to worry about the camel's nose if the camel might be following it into the tent. But we have 35 years of post-Gregg experience to tell us the camel is comatose. When we have 40 or 50 executions annually, as we do now (and as has been the case for years); and when capital cases take 10 or 12 yeas of the most excruciating legal review literally in the history of the world, worrying about the camel (careless infliction of the DP) is like worrying about the earth's getting destroyed by a comet.

Finally, as I pointed out, and as this case makes quite clear, there are risks to NOT executing violent men who continue to be dangerous. There is no broadly accepted proof that the country has executed a single innocent person for at least 50 years, but there is proof positive (see story) that an innocent person was killed LAST WEEK because we REFRAINED from imposing the DP on Mr. Johnson the first time.

Commented on January 22, 2012 Another tough case — murder of guard by murderer serving LWOP — for death penalty abolitionist crowd [SENTENCING LAW AND POLICY BLOG] - "Therefore killing is good if done for the right reasons."

Correct. See, e.g., WWII. Unless you think allowing continuation of the concentration camps would have been neat.

"So maybe the question should be did this inmate think he killed for the right reasons?"

Maybe the question should be whether anyone but a lunatic would believe that killing a guard because she's searching the cell for contraband could be the "right reason."

P.S. If there is a brutalization effect, why have murders gone way down over the last two decades when we've had hundreds and hundreds of executions -- many more than in the two decades before, when the murder rate was going up?

Commented on January 22, 2012 Another tough case — murder of guard by murderer serving LWOP — for death penalty abolitionist crowd [SENTENCING LAW AND POLICY BLOG] - "A more on point analogy would be should the guard have the right to kill after this inmate was incapacitated and segregated?"

Nope. In the circumstances you describe, guards don't get to decide. Courts get to decide.

"Put another way, should we kill Germans today because they had concentration camps then?"

Has anyone suggested that? Of course not -- because it's nonsense. We were, however, fully justified in executing some of the German high command, which we did after the war as a result of the Nuremburg trials (which were military tribunals, incidentally). Israel was also more than justified in hanging Eichmann.

"Care to try a different analogy?"

Nope, since the analogy I used was and remains a perfectly apt response. You said, sarcastically, "Therefore killing is good if done for the right reasons." But the sarcasm is complete baloney, as my analogy illustrated -- which is the real reason you don't like it.

Now, just in the event you feel like returning to the case Doug posted about: What penalty do you suggest for Mr. Johnson that is (1) consistent with the Eighth Amendment, (2) likely to deter other LWOP inmates from murder, and (3) proportionate to the offense?

Commented on January 22, 2012 Another tough case — murder of guard by murderer serving LWOP — for death penalty abolitionist crowd [SENTENCING LAW AND POLICY BLOG] - Mr. Johnson was serving LWOP for a previous premeditated murder when his multiple thrusts with a shank killed a female prison guard. What sentence for the guard's murder, short of the DP, would be (1) proportionate to the crime, (2) likely to have deterrent value for other LWOP inmates, and (3) consistent with the Eighth Amendment.

Obviously a fine is absurd. He can't and won't pay.

Obviously another prison term, no matter what its length is a joke -- he's already in for LWOP.

Obviously torture is off the table. It's inconsistent with the Eighth Amendment.

Obviously loss of canteen and yard privileges is also a joke -- the notion that it's proportionate to the crime is worse than absurd.

What then?

Abolitionists ceaselessly contend that, because the death penalty is a human institution, there is an inescapable risk that, at some point, we are going to execute an innocent person.  This is one of the things they say that's actually true (if remote).  It is thus more than fair, and very valuable, to force them to confront the fact that the failure to use the death penalty has produced, not just the possibility, but the demonstrated fact, of sacrificing the lives of the innocent, and has done so again and again. [Hawaii Prison Murder, Part II |Bill Otis]

Our opponents are relentless in their campaign.  They have a barrel full reasons to end the death penalty.  It costs too much (because they drive up its costs).  It takes too long (because they spend years filing frivolous motions).  It provides no closure (as if there could ever be closure).  It won't bring back the victim (but incarceration will?).  LWOP will do as well (even though it doesn't).  We're executing the innocent (actual proof optional). [What's the Excuse This Time? February 21, 2012 11:48 AM | Posted by Bill Otis]

Compassion per se is a virtue.  Compassion as a refuge for cruelty without consequence is worse than appalling.  We need to learn the lessons of the al-Megrahi scandal, and remember, next time, that compassion belongs with the victims, not the cut-throats. [Justice at Last May 20, 2012 11:23 AM | Posted by Bill Otis]

Honest. The DIP proposal, by Professor Russell Covey of Georgia State, takes the view that it is a "compromise" to adopt the specific goal abolitionists have been pushing for years as a way to vanquish their opponents and eliminate the death penalty.

Still, all is not lost.  Retentionists should counter with a "compromise" of life without parole, only the life will be shortened by state intervention.  If abolitionists want a game in which language is stripped of meaning, we can play too. [The Death of Language |Bill Otis]

We know who did it and the scope of what he did.  The justice system should make a thorough inquiry into his background and thinking to ascertain, in particular, whether at the time of the shooting he knew right from wrong and had the capacity to conform his behavior to the requirements of law. Said inquiry only needs to take months, not years.  If it is determined that he was sane in the legal sense -- as I say, a question that can be resolved relatively quickly  --  he should be executed forthwith.  What the country needs is not interminable process for the sake of process, nor delay for the sake of delay.  What it needs is a justice system that delivers justice. [Aurora, Acceptance, and Action July 23, 2012 7:06 AM | Posted by Bill Otis]   

Question: Why is a drone better than a courtroom? 

Answer:  A drone doesn't take ten years and counting to work.  

[A Novel Use for the Police September 13, 2012 4:03 PM | Posted by Bill Otis]

And sure enough, the system's fallibility did indeed result in the death of an innocent person.  But it did so in the usual way, notwithstanding what the abolitionist-tilted press would have you believe.  That is, an innocent person was killed, not because the system wrongly executed a prisoner, but because it wrongly failed to do so. [Ooooops |Bill Otis]

There is evil in this world.  It is not to be mistaken with lack of opportunity, a poor education, or racism.  If none of those things existed, there would still be evil.  It stands its vigil at the border of civilized life, ready to make its foray if given the chance.  Often it is concealed or disguised, which makes the fight against it so hard. But there are times when it shows its face.  These are the child murders, the torture and sadism murders, the drawn out killing of helpless people for the fun of it. [Why the Death Penalty Is Important |Bill Otis]

A society that has lost  --  or, more correctly, has forfeited  --  its right to set its face against horrors like that, to recognize some acts as beyond the pale of civilization, and to say no and mean it  --  that society has fumbled away something of ineffable value, something hard won but easily lost.  It has fumbled away that is, the moral strength without which evil will win. [Why the Death Penalty Is Important |Bill Otis] 

I am enough in sympathy with libertarianism to be suspicious of the government's wielding power. I must say that the present administration, in which the power of law enforcement has been wielded both selectively and politically, increases my concern.

That said, the fact of fallibility cannot make us stand down from our need and duty, in the name of the basic mores of civilized life, to put a permanent end to remorseless killers. To hesitate because of the inevitability of error is to hesitate just long enough for evil to win. When it does, abolitionists will live just long enough to regret what they allowed to happen. [Commented on Why the Death Penalty Is Important |Bill Otis] 

Bill Otis A.K.A William Graham Otis is a 1974 graduate of Stanford Law School and has held a number of positions in the federal government. He started his career in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, and in 1981 was asked to become head of the Appellate Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. While in that position he argued more than 100 criminal appeals before the Fourth Circuit. He was a charter member of the Attorney General's Advisory Subcommitte on the Sentencing Guidelines, where he served for ten years. In 1992, he was detailed to the White House to act as Special Counsel for President George H. W. Bush. He left the U.S. Attorneys Office in 1999, but returned to federal service three years later as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Energy. In 2003, he was appointed Counselor to the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, where he remained until 2007. He has appeared before both Houses of Congress to testify on diverse subjects in criminal law including the death penalty, illegal drugs and the operation of the Sentencing Guidelines. A number of media outlets have interviewed him on these and other subjects, including CBS's "Sixty Minutes," "The O'Reilly Factor," ABC News and MSNBC. He has written several op-ed pieces for the Washington Post, covering everything from legal ethics to Scooter Libby's sentence commutation, and is an occasional contributor to the blog Powerline. He and his wife split their time between their homes in suburban Washington, D.C and Hawaii. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.

I don’t necessarily expect you to take the opinions of these two organizations too seriously; Amnesty was the group that called the United States a major violator of human rights because of its support of the death penalty, as well as having its secretary general Irene Khan call the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay the “gulag of our times.” Gulag?  You mean the gulags that killed tens of millions?  GB has killed none.  That statement is the very definition of intellectual dishonesty.

So are these groups and those who support them correct in condemning capital punishment in America? Yes…if they’re pacifists as well. [The hypocrisy of opposing the death penalty 18 November 2009]

If you truly believe that the death penalty is wrong, in this country; then you are forced to take a position of peace in all wars and violent conflicts.

A pacifist believes, among other things, that to go to war is absolutely wrong and should never be done because it results in violence and the killing of people. Even guilty people. Is this not the same logic that fuels people against the death penalty? To be against the death-penalty but in support of any war in all of history is inconsistent. Every person facing the death penalty has committed a gruesome murder and/or rape. Very few enemies on the field of battle have done this sort of crime, so to believe we are justified in killing an enemy soldier but not a criminal is inconsistent.
[The hypocrisy of opposing the death penalty 18 November 2009

Anti-death penalty advocates may disagree. They are against capital punishment because “innocent people are killed” or “Jesus wouldn’t sentence people to death”. But this logic just doesn’t make sense. Innocent people are killed in each and every single action war in the history of the world. Are they against World War II? How about the American Revolution? A lot of people that are against the death penalty are Christians; are they against the wars of the Old Testament that God oversaw and commanded? [The hypocrisy of opposing the death penalty 18 November 2009]

When our society puts someone to death, they use every available resource to absolutely prove that that person is guilty; that they’ve committed murder. The prosecutors dig up all the evidence they can find in order to convict them, it is presented to an impartial jury, and the person on trial is given a proper defense. On the other hand, none of this happens when we go to war. In World War II, we sought out and killed German and Japanese soldiers. We also killed innocent civilians from these countries, and we knew we were doing it. And virtually everyone in this country is grateful of that today. There is no trial, there is no jury. We were at war against a great enemy, and we did what we had to in order to defeat them.

We are at war with another enemy in our country today, and that enemy is murderers and other criminals. In this war, however, we grant our enemies defense lawyers. And if there is even a shadow of a doubt, we do not execute them.
[The hypocrisy of opposing the death penalty 18 November 2009]