40 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Researchers II

The death penalty serves three functions. First, for some crimes any lesser punishment is inadequate as a matter of basic justice... Second, an executed death sentence absolutely guarantees the killer will never kill again. A life sentence does not. There are many cases of people killed by murderers who were paroled, escaped, killed within prison, or who arranged murders from within the prison... Third, I believe that an effective, enforced death penalty deters some murders.

The issue of racial bias is one that has been extensively studied. The most important finding that we see in state after state, including studies sponsored by the defense side or done by defense-oriented researchers, is an absence of any discernible bias on the race of the perpetrator. This is the kind of bias that is of greatest concern because it is the only kind that indicates anyone is on death row because of his race. Absence of such an effect is a great accomplishment and one that should be celebrated. Yet when studies are announced, that finding is typically buried in the fine print…

Research we have to date does not prove or even raise a reasonable suspicion that race is a significant factor in either the charging decision or the sentencing decision in California capital cases. Further research can be done, but if any research is commissioned by the government, we should be very careful that the results will be properly analyzed and not distorted to serve a predetermined agenda.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: “More Money to Put Police on the Street is the Real Deterrent.”

“It is likely that somewhere in the range of 5 to 18 innocent lives are saved per execution,” claims the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. Any study that claims to have formulated results so specific as to tie a number of executions to a number of murders naturally leaves room for much skepticism. The fact is that most studies that claim this sort of conclusion are wrought with errors in their methodology. I could cite multiple analyses of these studies that come to this conclusion, as well as multiple studies that refute the deterrence theory, but I will link those in the evidence section below rather than wasting waste space here.

What it comes down to is logic. The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation states that “It is a basic principle of human behavior that incentives matter.” This is true, if one knows what those incentives are. Most people who receive the death penalty in this country are poor and have little education - 95% of those on death row could not even afford their own attorneys. It is unlikely that they know about the death penalty laws in their state, and therefore it is impossible to argue that the death penalty could act as a deterrent. In addition, in the heat of the moment when a murder takes place, it is difficult to imagine one even considering the likelihood of whether they will receive the death penalty, let alone that effecting their actions. Amnesty International completely agrees that people who commit murder must be punished and removed from society – that is what prison is for.

The death penalty is an incredibly expensive endeavor that often delivers a false sense of justice to victims’ family members and risks irreversible errors. If it were repealed, money saved could go toward real crime prevention, such as placing more police officers on the street. This to me seems an undeniably obvious deterrent – no citing of obscure studies needed here.

An Enforced Death Penalty Saves Lives Through Deterrence

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

There has been a sea change in the scholarly literature on deterrence in recent years. Dr. Paul Rubin of Emory University summarized it in his congressional testimony in 2006. "The literature is easy to summarize: almost all modern studies and all the refereed studies find a significant deterrent effect of capital punishment. Only one study questions these results."

Opponents frequently make the claim that the lower homicide rates in states that do not have capital punishment disprove deterrence. This argument is so obviously invalid that a sophomore social science student could see it. Such simplistic comparisons fail to control for the other ways in which the states vary. We don't have to guess about this; we know. Those same states had lower rates during the moratorium period of the late 1960s to mid 1970s when no executions occurred in the United States.

The studies that properly control for the other variables are the ones referred to in Dr. Rubin's testimony. Although it is not an exact science, and probably never will be, a remarkable number of researchers using different approaches have produced a strong consensus that there is a deterrent effect where the death penalty is genuinely enforced. Estimates vary, but it is likely that somewhere in the range of 5 to 18 innocent lives are saved per execution.

What happens in states where the death penalty is obstructed, such as California and Pennsylvania, is insufficiently researched to draw any firm conclusions, but in any event the correct policy response is to remove the obstruction.

Faced with the modern deterrence studies, opponents usually cite the critical article by Donohue and Wolfers. Unlike the authors of the studies finding deterrence, Donohue and Wolfers chose not to publish their article through the peer-reviewed publication process that is the standard in the field for assuring that research meets at least the basic criteria for validity. Instead, they chose to publish in a law review. Law reviews are edited by law students who typically do not have the education or experience to distinguish valid social science methodology from statistical sleight-of-hand. Why did Donohue and Wolfers bypass the standard review process? Applying the Harry Truman principle, if you see someone avoiding the kitchen, there is a good chance he can't take the heat. Dezhbakhsh and Rubin's response to Donohue and Wolfers is presently in the "working paper" stage and is available on SSRN , abstract 1018533.

It is a basic principle of human behavior that incentives matter. Increase the cost of doing anything, and fewer people do it. When the price of gas goes up, more people take the bus rather than drive. Applying that basic principle, we would expect that a credible, enforced death penalty would reduce the number of homicides, particularly the premeditated homicides that are generally punished by death. (Whether second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter would be deterred is moot, as these crimes are not capital, and there is no serious proposal they should be.) Those who would claim that murder is somehow different, an exception to this basic principle, would need powerful empirical evidence to support that claim. The evidence is powerful in the other direction.

Using the Emory study estimate, over 18,000 have been saved from murder by the enforcement of capital punishment from 1977 to 2006. Tens of thousands more could have been saved if enforcement had not been obstructed by excessive delay and by overturning judgments based on fabricated restrictions that are not really in the Constitution and have nothing to do with actual guilt of the crime.

For the worst murderers, life in prison is just not enough punishment.

Abolitionists were willing to lie for at least a decade about Roger Keith Coleman, and some things never change.

Should States Adopt Moratoriums on Executions? No. by Kent S. Scheidegger CQ Researcher, Volume 15, Number 33, page 801 September 23, 2005 - This is not unusual. Only a handful of capital cases involve genuine questions of innocence. By all means, we should put those few on hold as long as it takes to resolve the questions, and the governor should commute the sentence if a genuine doubt remains. At the same time, we should proceed with the justly deserved punishment in the many cases with no such questions, and considerably faster than we do now.

It has also been shown that lawyers appointed to represent the indigent get the same results on average as retained counsel. For example, Scott Peterson, with the lawyer to the stars, sits on death row, while the public defender got a life sentence for the penniless Unabomber. The mitigating circumstance of Theodore Kaczynski's mental illness made the difference, not the lawyers.

Should States Adopt Moratoriums on Executions? No. by Kent S. Scheidegger CQ Researcher, Volume 15, Number 33, page 801 September 23, 2005 - On the other hand, a powerful reason for the death penalty becomes more clear every year. Study after study confirms that the death penalty does deter murder and does save innocent lives when it is actually enforced. Conversely, delay in execution and the needless overturning of valid sentences sap the deterrent effect and kill innocent people.

Should States Adopt Moratoriums on Executions? No. by Kent S. Scheidegger CQ Researcher, Volume 15, Number 33, page 801 September 23, 2005 - To minimize the loss of innocent life, the path is clear. Take as long as we need in the few cases where guilt is in genuine question, and proceed to execution in a reasonable time in a great bulk of cases where it is not.

Six years from crime to execution in a non-"volunteer" case is quite an accomplishment. This is the way it should be. That is long enough for a thorough consideration of the case, yet not so protracted as to dilute the deterrent effect and transform a death sentence into a nearly-life-expectancy sentence. [Virginia Execution |Kent Scheidegger]

That position is that the death penalty would not cost significantly more than life imprisonment if we did them both correctly. It might cost less. To see why we must look separately at the guilt and penalty phases. [A Bad Misquote on Death Penalty Costs December 13, 2007 8:19 AM | Posted by Kent Scheidegger]

Regarding the guilt phase of the trial, I have said many times, "Whatever we need to spend on a death penalty case [to make sure we have the actual perpetrator], there is no moral justification for spending a penny less on a life imprisonment case." Although an innocent person sentenced to life in prison would have longer time to prove his innocence, the reality is that in almost all cases he will not have the resources to do so and will probably die in prison. Hence, to argue we can save money on the guilt phase by abolishing capital punishment is to argue, in effect, that we save money by locking up innocent people for life. [A Bad Misquote on Death Penalty Costs December 13, 2007 8:19 AM | Posted by Kent Scheidegger]

Even steadfast supporters acknowledge the high price. “As it presently exists, the death penalty does cost more than life imprisonment,” says Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, Calif. “But is that an argument for its repeal or an argument to make it less costly?” [Sunday 31 January 2010] 

Scheidegger notes that the death penalty may actually save money in capital cases where the defendant takes a plea deal to save his or her life. But ultimately, he says, the economic argument misses the point. “People value justice for its own sake, aside from issues of deterrence and economics,” he says. “Would you have Timothy McVeigh grinning at you from his jail cell his entire life the way Charles Manson has?” [Sunday 31 January 2010]  

“We shouldn’t be sacrificing justice for cost issues,” he said. “We should be bringing down the costs so we can afford justice — so we can give the worst murderers the penalty they deserve. That should be the discussion.”

Scheidegger said the key is shortening the appeals process, which typically involves three separate reviews: two in the state courts and one in federal court. [Sunday 25 April 2010]

In some cases, such as that of the mother and stepfather charged in the May torture killing of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy in Utah, society demands execution, said Kent Scheidegger, director of Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Fund.

"There are some crimes for which any lesser penalty is not justice," he said.

Although Scheidegger contends there is no way to make capital punishment "completely consistent," he said the system does "by and large only sentence the worst killers to death." [Friday 11 June 2010]

Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman continued his involvement in terrorism even from within his prison cell, despite all the precautions intended to prevent that. So long as the perpetrator lives, there is always that possibility.

An executed sentence of death is the only 100% guarantee that the perpetrator will not repeat. [Why a life sentence is sometimes not enough July 15, 2010 3:26 PM | Posted by Kent Scheidegger]

A Letter to Governor Quinn January 12, 2011 4:19 PM (CJLF has sent a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, urging him to veto the death penalty repeal bill.) - There are killers of monstrous evil and undoubted guilt for whom any lesser penalty would be a travesty.  Would it be right for John Wayne Gacy to be grinning at us from his prison cell to this day?  Should he be making home videos about what a good time he is having, as Richard Speck did, or chatting on his smuggled cell phone, as Charles Manson does?  That is the consequence of abolition of the death penalty. Regrettably, it is inevitable that Illinois will have another serial killer at some point.  Will that killer's story end like Speck's or like Gacy's?  The choice is yours.

A Letter to Governor Quinn January 12, 2011 4:19 PM (CJLF has sent a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, urging him to veto the death penalty repeal bill.) - Certainly we must take steps to insure that no innocent person is executed, but we must also be aware that most capital cases involve no genuine question of guilt.  Gacy, Speck, and Manson are unusual in the number of victims, but quite typical in certainty of guilt.

A Letter to Governor Quinn January 12, 2011 4:19 PM (CJLF has sent a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, urging him to veto the death penalty repeal bill.) - It would be a terrible injustice to execute an innocent person, but it would be every bit as unjust for an innocent person to spend his life in prison and die there.  While the innocent man sentenced to life has more time to be exonerated, that extra time means very little without outside resources.  Despite a handful of cases of exonerations by organizations such as the Innocence Project, the reality as the system stands today is that a person wrongly convicted of murder has a better chance of leaving prison alive if he is sentenced to death, because of the greater resources provided.

A Letter to Governor Quinn January 12, 2011 4:19 PM (CJLF has sent a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, urging him to veto the death penalty repeal bill.) - The cost of the death penalty has been urged as a reason to abolish it, but this argument requires greater scrutiny than it has received.  The promised cost savings from abolition may well be a mirage.

First, the higher cost of capital cases is offset, at least in part, by cases plea-bargained to life in prison without a trial.  An analysis by CJLF showed that in a sample of large urban counties, those with the death penalty resolved 18.9% of their murder cases with plea bargains to a life or long sentence, while only 5% of cases were resolved this way in jurisdictions with no death penalty.  A guilty plea eliminates the cost of trial entirely and eliminates or greatly reduces the cost of appeals.  Most cost studies simply ignore this factor.

Second, as noted above, the cost of insuring accuracy of the guilty verdicts cannot morally be limited to capital cases.  To say we will save money by skimping on certainty of guilt is to say we will save money by imprisoning innocent people for life.

Third, a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, combined with the State's constitutional obligation to provide medical care for prisoners, imposes the high and escalating cost of end-of-life care on the State.  The studies claiming cost savings have dealt with this factor inadequately or not at all.

Fourth, much of the additional expense in capital cases at present involves unnecessary litigation about issues having nothing to do with guilt.  Because most capital cases involve no doubt of guilt, most of the issues in the many years of appeals deal only with the choice of penalty.  Much of this litigation can simply be eliminated.  Every capital case should get one full and fair review of the entire trial.  All subsequent reviews should be limited to genuine claims of actual innocence, which will only be present in a small fraction of the cases.

A Letter to Governor Quinn January 12, 2011 4:19 PM (CJLF has sent a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, urging him to veto the death penalty repeal bill.) - Eliminating unnecessary reviews would reduce both the expense of the reviews themselves and the expense of incarcerating the murderers for decades.  If Illinois would execute murderers less than six years from the date of sentence--as Virginia did with the D.C. Sniper and does regularly--it could save a great deal of money.

Referring to the execution of Johnnie Baston on 10 March 2011 in Ohio - "This is a positive development. Justice is overdue in these cases," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento. "There are some murderers for whom anything less than death is an inadequate punishment."

No Looting in Japan Culture is the primary reason for differences in crime rates across jurisdictions, which is why simplistically comparing jurisdictions to see the effects of policy differences does not work.  Death penalty opponents regularly claim that Europe's lower homicide rates, relative to the U.S., disproves deterrence.  Substitute Japan for the U.S. in the same argument, and you get the opposite conclusion.

A page turned in the capital punishment debate 03/17/11 09:31 AM ET - In every capital case I have worked on, when all is said and done, death remains a just punishment for the crime the defendant chose to commit.

Cal. JLWOP Attack Back Again BTW, the existence of this campaign conclusively disproves the anti-death-penalty crowd's claim that life "with absolutely no possibility of parole" is an alternative to the death penalty.  If the death penalty is removed as an option on Tuesday, the campaign to abolish LWOP begins Wednesday.  We have already seen it with the 17-year-old murderers.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, said the people pushing for abolition are the ones who have contributed to the high cost of the death penalty.

"The death penalty doesn't need to cost anywhere as much as it does," he said. "The only reason it does is that the very same people who are complaining about costs have succeeded in killing every reform we have." [Monday 29 August 2011]

Death penalty advocate Kent Scheidegger agrees that capital punishment should not amount to torture, but says the average person "is not really all that concerned with a murderer experiencing painless death." Public debate is focused more on the larger issue of the death penalty and whether or not the punishment deters crime. "Arguing over the method of execution is kind of a distraction," said Scheidegger, legal director of the Sacramento, Calif., Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

Saturday 15 October 2011 - Death penalty advocates say executions would remove one common argument against capital punishment in California.

"If we do actually start carrying out executions, it would undermine the argument that the death penalty is not being enforced and we should get rid of it," said Kent Scheidegger, director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

In 1978, when he was 27, Manuel Valle killed a police officer in Coral Gables, Fla. In September, when he was 61, Mr. Valle was put to death for his crime.

A couple of hours earlier, the Supreme Court had refused to stay his execution — with one dissent. Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that the 33 years Mr. Valle had spent on death row amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

That line of reasoning strikes some supporters of the death penalty as perverse. “It is a very strange argument to say that a murderer can delay justice with protracted appeals for decades and then turn around and claim his own delay as a reason to escape his deserved punishment altogether,” said Kent Scheidegger, the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

“If the review system is broken such that nobody but volunteers are being executed, the answer is to fix the review system,” said Kent S. Scheidegger, the legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports the death penalty.

Mr. Scheidegger said the authority some governors had to commute or delay death penalty sentences “is given for the purpose of correcting injustices in individual cases. It’s not given for the purpose of negating an entire law.” [Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon on Tuesday 22 November 2011 said he would halt the execution of a death row inmate scheduled for next month and that he would allow no more executions in the state during his time in office.]

How does a state with no death penalty punish a life-sentenced murderer who commits another murder within prison?  That has always been a strong argument for the death penalty.  The U.S. Supreme Court, for a time, even held this situation out as a possible exception to its ban on mandatory death sentences. [Hawaii Prison Murder |Kent Scheidegger]

Thursday 1 March 2012 - But those who support capital punishment say the opponents’ cost-savings figures are inflated. The number of new death sentences fell dramatically last year and for the last decade have been well below the rate of the 1990s, said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

“The other side of the coin is the cost of keeping all of these prisoners to the end of their lives, if the promise of true life-without-parole is to be kept,” he said. “Medical costs are a large and growing part of the corrections budget, and those costs escalate dramatically with age.”

Friday 2 March 2012 - Another death penalty proponent agreed, saying many of the legal issues that have delayed executions in the state have been addressed by the federal courts and that the last major impediment is the battle over lethal-injection procedures used by the state.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, said settling that issue could help executions resume.

"The opposition makes much of the fact that only 13 death sentences have been carried out, but about that many have reached the end of the pipeline and are now ready to be carried out, blocked only by the unnecessary and pointless lethal injection litigation," he wrote in an email.

Tuesday 6 March 2012 - The difficulty obtaining the death drugs illustrates the problems inherent in lethal injection as an execution method, says Kent Scheiddeger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports the death penalty.

"It amounts to medicalising a procedure that shouldn't have anything to do with medicine," he says. "It's supposed to be punishment - it shouldn't be this quasi-medical procedure. It just strikes me as wrong and now we have all these additional complications. Manufacturers, particularly in Europe, try to meddle in things that are none of their business and try to cut off the supply."

Mr Scheidegger does not foresee a halt to executions forced by a lack of drugs, as the executioners can merely change the ingredients in the cocktail, he says.

"Any barbiturate will do it," he says.

Kent Scheidegger has been the Legal Director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation since December 1986. He has written over 100 briefs in cases in the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Scheidegger is the Past Chairman of the Criminal Law and Procedure Practice Group of the Federalist Society and has served on the Group’s executive committee since 1996. His articles on criminal and constitutional law have been published in law reviews, national legal publications and Congressional reports. Legal arguments authored by Mr. Scheidegger have been cited in the Congressional Record and incorporated in several precedent-setting United States Supreme Court decisions. After receiving a degree in physics with honors from New Mexico State University in 1976, Mr. Scheidegger served for six years in the United States Air Force as a Nuclear Research Officer. He took his law degree with distinction from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1982 and practiced civil law in Northern California. He was general counsel of California Cooler, Inc. from 1984 until 1986, when he joined the Foundation.

Michael Rushford is the president of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports capital punishment. He says the decline in death sentences corresponds to a decline in the murder rate.

MICHAEL RUSHFORD: The homicide rate in the United States is right now at a 43-year low. We haven't had murder rates this low since 1965. When you have fewer murderers and only a small percentage are death eligible. So when you've got fewer murderers and you're dealing with a smaller percentage that are death eligible anyway, you're going to have fewer death sentences handed down.

MICHAEL RUSHFORD: Well this is your highest pool of potential murderers. People who kill during a robbery, or a rape, or a kidnapping, or a burglary, it's where you get your death eligible cases. So when you've locked up a much higher percentage of these kinds of criminals, so you've got habitual felons who commit the most murders anyway in jail.

Michael Rushford, president of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and a death penalty supporter, said he doesn't think a supply problem will change public opinion on capital punishment, though delays may make some mad.

"The public is very much in support for the worst murders," he said. "Holding up executions makes most people angry. Victims suffer through decades waiting for these executions to come about."

He noted the switch in Oklahoma to the anesthetic pentobarbital and today Ohio also announced that it would use pentobarbital. Rushford predicted other states may seek to use that drug, too. "The drug issue is not going to be a problem," he said.

Michael D. Rushford is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a nonprofit, public interest law organization dedicated to improving the administration of criminal justice. Prior to forming the Foundation, Rushford served five years as Director of the California Chamber of Commerce Anti-Crime Department, where he raised funds and produced two award-winning statewide public service media campaigns, authored and helped gain passage of a number of legislative proposals dealing with crime, and authored the Guide to Crime Reduction, which has served as a model for anti-crime programs developed in more than 200 communities across the country. Rushford’s earlier employment included paid consulting and coordinating work for statewide and Northern California political campaigns, production of Sacramento’s 1975 Easter Seal Telethon, and consultant to California’s Lieutenant Governor in 1972. He served six years in the United States Air Force Reserve, while attending the University of California, Sacramento. Articles on crime and law enforcement, authored by Rushford, have been published in virtually every major California newspaper and legal journal, several of the nation’s major news publications, and the Congressional Record. He has been a guest on the prime time television news broadcasts for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, the BBC, and Fox as well local radio and television stations across the U.S. Michael Rushford is the president of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports capital punishment. He says the decline in death sentences corresponds to a decline in the murder rate.

Friday 26 October 2012 - Crime analyst Kamal Affendi Hashim said the policy should cover all crimes to maintain fairness in the legal system.

"It's not fair if a man convicted of murdering a single person faces the death penalty, when a drug dealer who destroys lives and families gets a hard slap on the wrist, walks out and starts dealing again," he said. "If we want to abolish the death sentence for drug traffickers, we must abolish other death sentences as well — unless we officially drop the position of drugs as public enemy number one."

Kamal Affendi Hashim is a well-known crime analyst in Malaysia.