40 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Researchers IV

To say it has to be painless is to lose sight of what it is...which punishment…in its very meaning is. The word punishment comes from the same root as pain. It is and is essential conception…painful. If it is not painful, it is not punishment. When killers intentionally over depraved indifference inflict intense pain and suffering on their victims. In my view, they should die a quick but painful death. Not torture, not drawn out but quick and painful. [The story of Capital Punishment BBC Documentary 2011]

For (Immanuel) Kant, the only pure evil thing is an evil will. So you measure the seriousness of the crime by the attitude of the criminal. For Kant, the death penalty was a moral imperative, it was a duty. But it was to be done without any emotion. We did it as a matter of duty and in fact we celebrate human dignity by executing, by saying, “You are at a responsible age, you chose to do what you did and you deserve to die for it. We will not look at you as a means to deter others from committing crimes.” [The story of Capital Punishment BBC Documentary 2011]

Not that criminals' eyes should be our only guiding lights, but by understanding their attitudes, I believe we can better punish their acts proportionately to their evil. [Among Killers, Searching For the Worst of the Worst December 3, 2000 Sunday, Final Edition Posted in The Washington Post]

I am a "retributivist" supporter of the death penalty. That is, I believe that some people kill so viciously, with an attitude so callous or cruel, that they deserve to die--and society has an obligation to execute them. But the obligation extends only to the most wicked: We need fewer death sentences, more justly applied. I would argue that the vast majority of the 3,700 murderers on death row today should, instead, spend the rest of their lives in prison. Our responsibility is to figure out who should be included in that small minority--the very worst of the worst--who deserve to die. [Among Killers, Searching For the Worst of the Worst December 3, 2000 Sunday, Final Edition Posted in The Washington Post]

Execution is society's ultimate sanction, to be threatened rarely and applied even more rarely. We must rethink the death penalty, revise and refine our statutes. If we consult the experts--including killers--and rethink it right, I am convinced we will end up converting the sentences of thousands of murderers presently on death row to life imprisonment.

The remaining few hundred monsters we should execute. [Among Killers, Searching For the Worst of the Worst December 3, 2000 Sunday, Final Edition Posted in The Washington Post]

7 January 2003 - Robert Blecker sat quietly as other professors ticked off their reasons for opposing the death penalty: It's unfair to blacks. It doesn't really deter crime. Innocent people could be executed.

But Blecker, a professor at New York Law School, was having none of it. When it was his turn to speak at the recent death-penalty forum at John Jay College, he summed up his support for executions in three words: "Barbara Jo Brown."

Blecker then launched into a staccato description of the 11-year-old Louisiana girl's slaying in 1981, how she was abducted, raped and tortured by a man who later was executed. The story drew gasps from a crowd accustomed to dealing in legal theories and academic formulas. "We know evil when we see it, and it's past time that we start saying so," Blecker said later. "When it comes to the death penalty, too many in academia can't face that."

7 January 2003 But fellow death-penalty supporter Blecker says that the death penalty should be reserved for the "worst of the worst, the ones almost everyone can agree are worthy."

7 January 2003 - Death-penalty supporters also say there is plenty of evidence that executions deter homicides.

A study last year by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta examined the nearly 6,000 death sentences imposed in the USA from 1977 through 1996. The authors compared changes in murder rates in 3,000 U.S. counties to the likelihood of being executed for murder in that county. They found that murder rates declined in counties where capital punishment was imposed. The researchers said a statistical formula suggested that each execution saved the lives of 18 potential victims.

Recent studies at the University of Houston and at the University of Colorado at Denver had similar findings. Blecker, who is researching deterrence, says they square with what he found in interviews with 60 killers. "They are cognizant of whether they are operating in a death-penalty state before they pull the trigger," he says. "They're operating in the real world, not the realm of political theory."

7 January 2003 - Academics who back executions are gaining some acceptance. Senate Republicans countered Leahy's bill by citing research from pro-death penalty academics. The bill was approved by the Judiciary Committee but is stalled in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Blecker says he's getting asked to more academic conferences on the death penalty — usually as the only voice in favor. “‘A lion in a den of Daniels' is one way I've been introduced," he says.

“The answer to the question why we’re the only Western democracy with the death penalty is because we’re the only Western democracy that’s acting like a Western democracy.”  

Michael Ross was a monster prepared to die, and the good people of Connecticut were about to kill him. Ross had murdered eight young women, including two teenagers, raping all but one. The prosecutors who sought his death felt certain; the jurors who unanimously sentenced him to die felt certain he deserved it. The courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, concurred that this mass-murdering rapist could constitutionally receive society's ultimate sanction. [`God Love Him'? 6 February 2005]

If the sadist is distressed by these fantasies, even if he doesn't act upon them, he is officially labeled a sexual sadist and deserves help. If he acts upon them and rapes, he is a sexually sadistic rapist and deserves to be punished severely. If he rapes, tortures and kills, he deserves to die. He may be sick; but he is definitely evil. I am as certain of this as I am that my hand has five fingers; most of us are morally certain he deserves to die. [`God Love Him'? 6 February 2005]

What compassion toward the man who made the women he raped lie on their stomachs before he strangled them. How unjust it would be if that man who put eight women in coffins should himself feel "boxed in." But why should the other killers on Connecticut's death row - whose own odds of being executed leap exponentially once Ross leads the way - condemn rather than cheer him for refusing to die at the hands of the state? And why should we care? [`God Love Him'? 6 February 2005]

Remember. Remember Dzung Ngoc Tu, 25; Tammy Williams, 17; Paula Perrera, 16. Debra Smith Taylor, 23. Remember Robin Stavinsky, 19, April Brunais and Leslie Shelley, 14, and Wendy Baribeault, 17. Imagine the lives they never led; remember how they died. We cannot fully feel the suffering of these victims unless we fully loathe the motives of their killer. As Adam Smith pointed out, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."

Unquestionably, the world would be a better place without Michael Ross in it. Then, too, the federal bench would probably be a better place without Judge Chatigny on it. [`God Love Him'? 6 February 2005]

He agrees that the death penalty should be rare for youth offenders who commit capital offences under the age of 18, but he still believes it should be an option for the worst of the worst.

"It's about dignity, humanity. It's about loving and celebrating goodness and punishing evil," he said. [Thursday 3 March 2005]

And in arguing for the death penalty as a form of retribution, he draws a distinction between retribution and revenge.

"Revenge is limitless. Retribution is limited and proportionate to the crime," he said. [Thursday 3 March 2005]

He worries that death penalty opponents will next try to exempt the mentally ill from the death penalty.

"If you sign onto that, most evil will become exempt," he said. [Thursday 3 March 2005]

When asked if nitrogen would be a more humane way for the state to kill, the leading voice of the American pro-death penalty movement, Professor Robert Blecker, strongly disagrees.

"If the killers who smash their victims on the side of the heads with hammers and then slit their throats go out in a euphoric high, that is not justice." [The search for a 'humane' execution BBC Monday 14 January 2008]

Friday 2 May 2008: Robert Blecker, a pro-death penalty New York Law School professor who testified before New Jersey’s commission, said the panel showed “incredible bias.” Blecker recently wrote a rebuttal to the commission’s findings, claiming members ignored persuasive arguments in support of the death penalty and used skewed public polling techniques to justify their own conclusions. Blecker said he believes the death penalty is worth studying, but only if it is studied fairly.

“The death penalty needs revision. It needs refinement. I’m not one who urges us to stay pat,” he said. “Death-penalty studies can be effective if members “just really do it,” he said, and “don’t pretend to do it.”

Death is only justice By ROBERT BLECKER Last Updated: 3:11 AM, March 30, 2011 - Thousands of hours in prisons and over 25 years interviewing more than 100 convicted killers (along with dozens of correctional officers) has taught me: Life without parole can't substitute for the death penalty.

Thursday 21 April 2011 - New York Law School professor Robert Blecker said lethal injection should be abandoned -- not for practical reasons, but because it sanitised a process that should hurt. "It conflates medicine with punishment," he said. "How we kill those we detest should in no way resemble how we kill those we love. Firing squad is my preferred method," he said.

But the past counts. Justice matters. We make and should keep covenants with the dead. Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes must die. [Why Joshua Komisarjevsky Must Die Tuesday 25 October 2011 Posted: The Courant]

We should shorten the time it takes to execute these monsters.

Some people deserve to die. We have an obligation to kill them.

Sometimes innocent persons must get hurt for the public good.

The “lifer” aggravator rests on one or two assumptions: Unless you threaten him with death, a lifer has nothing else to lose.

If the legislature abolishes the death penalty, it will be a great day in Connecticut for the worst of the worst. Condemned killers on death row, no less than experts on both sides, all understand "prospective only" abolition as a fraud. [When We Can't Kill Those Who Deserve To Die. Can We Abolish Death Penalty And Do Justice To Their Victims? By ROBERT BLECKER The Hartford Courant April 1, 2012]

Can we abolish the death penalty and still keep our covenant with the victim we never knew? Never to forgive; never to forget. Can we keep the fire burning until justice at last is done? We, fellow citizens of the slain, declare to the survivors: The voice of your brother's blood, your parent's blood, our children's blood, the blood of your beloved, cries out to us from the ground. It remains our responsibility and we accept it: to continue to hate sadistic viciousness, and callous predators. We will not allow politicians' anguished deliberation to diminish our felt need for justice. [When We Can't Kill Those Who Deserve To Die. Can We Abolish Death Penalty And Do Justice To Their Victims? By ROBERT BLECKER The Hartford Courant April 1, 2012]

The past counts. The Earth does not belong only to the living. Bloodshed cries out to be avenged. Emotively, and not merely rationally, the blood of the dead victim compels us to act. Today, too, the victim’s lingering cry moves us retributivist advocates of the death penalty. [The Death Penalty Delineated By the Old Testament by Robert Blecker, USA Today on November 2004] 

Robert Blecker teaches criminal law and constitutional history at New York Law School. Tufts, B.A. 1969 Harvard, J.D. 1974 cum laude Harvard Fellow in Law and Humanities, 1976-77. Served as Special Assistant Attorney General, New York State Office of Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. A leading U.S. authority on death penalty and frequent commentator for national media, including CNN, Court TV, and PBS. http://www.nyls.edu/faculty/faculty_profiles/robert_blecker With a gleam in his eye, Robert Blecker, a nationally known retributivist advocate of the death penalty, has managed to alienate both sides of the debate on the politically divisive and morally complex issue of capital punishment. But his position as designated outcast is nothing new, nor is his strongly held conviction that the most vicious and callous offenders deserve to die and that society is morally obliged to execute those “worst of the worst” criminals. A radical at heart, like many who grew up in the 1960s, Professor Blecker railed against prevailing academic assumptions about the evils of capital punishment during his undergraduate years at Tufts, where he refused to major and nevertheless in 1969 earned a B.A. with honors in three fields, while vehemently protesting against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. At Harvard Law School, where he won the Oberman Prize for the best graduating thesis, Professor Blecker was one of only two students to publicly defend the death penalty. He went on to prosecute corrupt lawyers, cops, and judges and saw up close how the rich and powerful were given breaks denied to poor and powerless offenders. Later a Harvard University Fellow in Law and Humanities and also a playwright, Professor Blecker’s production “Vote NO!”, an anti-federalist case against adopting the Constitution, premiered in 1987 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and traveled to 16 states, convincing even staunchly patriotic audiences to vote against the Constitution. Still rebellious, Professor Blecker espouses his carefully considered, yet almost universally unpalatable position in the academic community. Based on 13 years of interviewing convicted killers, and hundreds of hours inside maximum security prisons and on death rows, he makes a powerful case for the death penalty as retribution, but only for the “worst of the worst” offenders. The sole keynote speaker supporting the death penalty at major conferences and at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, he was also the lone American advocate at an international conference in Geneva on the death penalty sponsored by Duke University Law School. Professor Blecker encourages emotional debate in his teaching and has cotaught his death penalty course with leading abolitionists—most recently Kevin Doyle, Director of New York’s Capital Defender’s Office—in order to give students both viewpoints. He also teaches Criminal Law, Constitutional History, and Criminals and Our Urge to Punish Them. Frequently appearing in The New York Times, on PBS, CourtTV, CNN, BBC World News, and other major media outlets, and with privileged access to death rows across the country, Professor Blecker is making a documentary chronicling life on death rows and contrasting them with maximum security general population: Are they "living hell" as commonly portrayed? He, himself will be the subject of a feature documentary to be released to theatres Spring '08, which chronicles his odd relationship with Daryl Holton, recently executed by Tennessee.

"Science does really draw a conclusion...There is no question about it. The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect. The results are robust. They don't really go away. I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) - what am I going to do, hide them?"


Naci Mocan is the Ourso Distinguished Chair of Economics at Louisiana State University, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Research Affiliate of TUSIAD-Koç University Economic Research Forum. He holds a PhD in Economics from the Graduate Center of CUNY. Professor Mocan's research concentrates on policy-relevant economic analysis, with an emphasis on health economics and law and economics. His current research agenda consists of the analysis of the determinants of illegal behavior such as crime and corruption, and the interplay between economic and cultural factors that determine market as well as non-market behavior. His research has been funded by various private foundations as well as government organizations, and has been published in a variety of academic journals. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Labor Research. He joined IZA as a Research Fellow in February 2010.

Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University said: "While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the... [data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed...In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century...Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the death penalty], every person who dies at a criminal's hands is a victim of our inaction."

Karl Spence - Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University

(2003) FCC economist Dr. Paul Zimmerman finds: "Specifically, it is estimated that each state execution deters somewhere between 3 and 25 murders per year (14 being the average). Assuming that the value of human life is approximately $5 million {i.e. the average of the range estimates provided by Viscussi (1993)}, our estimates imply that society avoids losing approximately $70 million per year on average at the current rate of execution all else equal." The study used state level data from 1978 to 1997 for all 50 states (excluding Washington D.C.).

Paul R. Zimmerman is the FCC economist.

In sum, the heart has its reasons, but also its value. The heart not only explains the death penalty's persistence, but also justifies it. A complete human, and a humane criminal justice system, need both head and heart. Such a system may well praise the death penalty, rather than burying it. We should certainly educate and critique emotions and their excesses, such as lynchings. Momentary eruptions of anger may cloud reflective emotional judgments. The job of the justice system is to not to stifle or skew emotions, however, but to promote reflective emotional deliberation. We can neither ignore punitive emotions nor assume that enlightened emotional progress will make the death penalty fade into the obscure mists of the past. [Co-written with Stephanos Bibas, "The Heart Has Its Value: The Death Penalty's Justifiable Persistence," University of Pennsylvania Law School, Scholarship at Penn Law, 2008]

Douglas A. Berman is the William B. Saxbe Designated Professor of Law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

The great thinker Ernest van den Haag brilliantly made the case for execution as deterrence: “Imagine if a state announced that murders committed Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays would be punishable by execution and murders committed the other days of the week would be punishable by imprisonment. Would murder rates remain the same as they are now on all the days of the week? I doubt it.”

"Trials are more likely to be fair when life is at stake - the death penalty is probably less often unjustly inflicted than others."

This shows that judicial system itself is very careful with death sentences. Even if we assume that there are chances that an innocent person is executed, it is the problem with the trial, not the punishment. "It is not the penalty - whether death or prison - which is unjust when inflicted on the innocent, but its imposition on the innocent."

Any penalty, a fine, imprisonment or the death penalty could be unfairly or unjustly applied. The vice in this case is not in the penalty but in the process by which it is inflicted. It is unfair to inflict unequal penalties on equally guilty parties, or on any innocent parties, regardless of what the penalty is.

Even though statistical demonstrations are not conclusive, and perhaps cannot be, capital punishment is likely to deter more than other punishments because people fear death more than anything else. They fear most death deliberately inflicted by law and scheduled by the courts. Whatever people fear most is likely to deter most. Hence, the threat of the death penalty may deter some murderers who otherwise might not have been deterred. And surely the death penalty is the only penalty that could deter prisoners already serving a life sentence and tempted to kill a guard, or offenders about to be arrested and facing a life sentence. Perhaps they will not be deterred. But they would certainly not be deterred by anything else. We owe all the protection we can give to law enforcers exposed to special risks.

As Ernest van den Haag states in his book (co-authored with John P. Conrad), The Death Penalty: A Debate: "Innocent life is best secured by telling those who would take it that they will forfeit their own lives."

Ernest van den Haag (September 15, 1914, The Hague – March 21, 2002, Mendham, New Jersey) was a Dutch-American sociologist, social critic, and John M. Olin Professor of Jurisprudence and Public Policy at Fordham University. He was best known for his contributions to National Review.