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The Death Penalty: It Doesn't Work!

Case 4

Letter 1


This is not the first letter in the series. We exchanged a pair of emails before these letters, however those did not include argumentation and I did not save them.


I am sorry for not signing my name. I didn't realize this was such a formal form of communication. My name is Amy Grandula, and I came across the site of yours and it disgusted me. I have seen some very interesting anti-death penalty websites, but yours was the only one that has ever compelled me to write an e-mail. I am not usually the kind of person that would do such a thing, but your arguments, were silly and misinformed. You will obviously not change your mind about your position, but maybe you will change your arguments.

The only arguments that I have ever actually used that you "debunked" are cost and the cruel and unusual area.

a.) it cost $72.39 per day to incarcerate a prisoner on death row. average stay is 11.3 years, plus $850,000 for execution. If you do the math you will see that if you use that same figure for a prisoner for 50 years Life without Parole comes out to a greater cost. This does not even consider rise in prison cost, and the prison violence that may be inflicted on a prisoner.

Also equivalent life without parole and death penalty cases usually result in a high level of security prison. which can be up to $75,000 a year. Multiply that number by 50 years and well, you get the picture.

b.) Cruel and unusual punishment -- capital punish has already been ruled as constitutional since 1977 when the Supreme Court reinstated it. Has the definition of those words really changed that much since then?

The rest of your arguments don't make all that much sense to tell you the truth. I understand what you are trying to say, but the pro-death penalty arguments that you use are either irrelevant or just setting you up for a "good comeback."

"It is by exacting the high penalty for the taking of human life, that we affirm the highest value for human life. " -Edward Koch

PS. I am not a "bible thumper" because I realize all the contradictions in the bible. "thou shall not kill." would you like me to thump the bible right back at you?

"...all who take the sword will perish by the sword." (Matt. 26:52) "For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying." (Acts 25:11)

"He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." -Revelation 13:9-10

The bible is never a valid place to take your arguments, but if that is the way you see things, I can respond to them as well.

Good day, hear from you soon, A. Grandula

Case 4

Letter 1


This is my response to the first letter.

To: A.G.,

The name comment was made simply because the others who have written me on the subject usually put their name on. Though with your second letter you have gone them all one better, that is to say, adding in your last name.

You use math, calculating an average cost of 73.29 per day to make an equivalence in cost between a death penalty case and a person serving a "life sentence" or 50 years. Saying that these two scenarios would result in equivalent cost, that of the average death row case dragging on for 11.3 years at a cost of 73.29 per day and adding on an execution's average cost of 850K, with a person serving 50 years for life imprisonment.

The math would give you that answer it is true, however, just how many persons serve a 50 year sentence? The answer is: very, very few. Then again: how many killers, murderers and just plain whacko's are let out after 9, or 7, or even as few as three years? Answer, a substantial number.

Cruel and unusual punishment? Let's take a look. Unusual, means not normal, rare, exceptional, or not the rule. CP is unusual, most convicted killers have a very, very small chance of being executed. Let us see, some 50,000 killings in a given year if you believe federal statistics, and let us see how many executions in a year, hmmmm, hard one, but certainly no where near 50,000. more like a hundred or two? maybe three? So it is a one in a thousand chance that a killer is executed. Certainly not the rule, apparently rare, even, one could say, exceptional. As to cruel, we could let other nations judge us, as they are wont to do, especially the large number that hold CP to be severely inhumane. But putting that aside, I could use the arguments the supreme court used to decide that it was cruel and unusual. To use the supreme court decision as a defense of CP is like unto your attitude toward injecting the bible into this debate, it has been on both sides and so should be discounted, itself, as nonsensical or at least as being of little assist in determining one's opinion concerning whether or not CP is a good public policy.

You dismiss the rest of the arguments as being nonsensical. I really have to disagree. For one of them to be nonsensical you would have to be saying that it is perfectly fine to have as public policy a program that allows the state to execute innocents along with guilty parties for crimes that others are allowed to walk away from. A policy that has not had one of its basic tenets, in the popular mind anyway, proven to any substantial degree, that is to say that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime or could operate as such.

Quite humorous was the quote be E. Koch, a man I have come to like from his role as a television judge. Showing value for something by destroying it? I understand the quote's meaning and intent. But disagree with its sentiment completely. How can one, by destroying something, show how well you value it? I understand that he means to say that only by creating such a serious and vital punishment for killing can we demonstrate how dearly we hold life.

However this sentiment has a dark side. Look at it from the point of view of someone who feels the legal and managerial systems of this society are unfairly set against them. Those same words, used by such a person would be quite an incendiary argument for inciting others to shoot at cops and firemen during riots, or any other time. We have had riots and it is thinking like that which can drive those who would incite others to call them to arms and wreak havoc.

I only mentioned the bible as the most recent group of those who have written me have had that document as their mainframe of reference. I apologize if that was offensive or in some way inappropriate.

I hope all is well. I do believe that by truly arguing and discussing the public interest will be served, eventually.

Case 4

Letter 2

Their response in turn:

I am sorry for the shortness in this next response for I have found this not very helpful in my pursuit to find a solid point of view for the opposing side of this argument.

I am a member of the NFL (National Forensics League) and I am in dire need of a good opposition to the death penalty. There is a debate coming up on the national level that I must find a good opposing argument.

As some of your points are relevant and may be used, if I come across a strong opponent, they will be shot down. I am in fact an advocate for the death penalty, however, I must try and learn both sides in order to be an effective debater on this subject.

Next time you come across a person such as myself do not use your argument about capital punishment being unusual, because you are simply implying that if it used more often it will then be right and constitutional. Which, I am assuming, is not what you want to say.

Also, my numbers saying that a person would stay in jail for 50 years is assuming that they are getting LIFE without parole, not a mere 9 to 7 years as you say.

I am sorry for wasting your time. Have a nice day.

Sincerely, A. Grandula

Case 4

Letter 2


My last letter to them:

To: A.G.,

This is not wholly a waste of time. Had I known your purpose, that of searching for good opposing arguments to the death penalty, we could have worked on the arguments that I had posted and improve them so that you would be better prepared.

If it is truly a debate that you are preparing for you will need to understand the arguments that I put forth and have at least two or three quick, solid, rebuffs for each of them. You should also keep in mind that a debate is a format in which the audience is the deciding factor. You should keep in mind not only the argumentation, but how your presentation is being received and perceived.

As to cruel and unusual, you understood perfectly what I meant to say. If more people were executed, that is to say each and every person convicted of killing, murder, or perhaps, even manslaughter. It would not be "unusual". It is interesting that the persons who write me, because they object to my stance on the issue, would like to see just that.

In colonial America and even post colonial America there were over 700 kinds of offenses for which the death penalty was deemed appropriate, things such as horse theft, shoplifting, adultery, and the like. Back then the death penalty was not at all unusual, and in most legislators or judges minds, not cruel.

As to the comment about life without parole, amazingly few persons convicted of killing live out that sentence. Prisons are simply to crowded to accommodate the guilty parties and so bizarre compromises are made wherein the least offensive characters, relatively speaking, are let go in order to make room for more offensive ones.

I guess I should add my alternative to the death penalty to my page so that you and others could see what I would prefer. But on the other hand I feel that the argument should stand on its own merits and not be bolstered by some alternative.

Good luck finding the truth of the matter