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It Doesn't Work: Articles and Death Penalty Statistics


Thoughts and articles on the Death Penalty, and a bit of Bible humor at the end.

Why I do this:

How this site evolved was that I began to argue online with people and I kept the copies of the text exchanged.

I write from the assumption that capital punishment is in no way right. Ironically I base this on grounds very much similar to that of those who oppose abortion, and that is to say I believe we each have a right to life. Ironic is it not that those who oppose abortions also favor capital punishment while claiming a belief in the right to life. How ironic indeed that I agree with them in their essentials?

Also, I grew up in a household that argued. Then, somewhere along the line I learned some logic and some debating.

My idea, ultimately, has a theme to it, and that is for the guilty party to make full restitution of damages. For example, a murderer is clearly found guilty of killing a woman's husband say, just to keep it simple. The convicted person would be responsible for repaying the state for all the expenses it goes through to help the woman get back in the work force, helping her adjust or endure the pain and suffering related to the loss, counseling, and the replacement of the income the husband would likely have earned. In other words the guilty party is responsible for fully amending the damages he or she has done to the various victims of their crime. This would, of course, mean that the guilty party would have to work while incarcerated, to earn income to pay for the debts the state incurs while it deals with the needs of the guilty party's victim. There is no freedom until the debt is clear, the guilty parties, further more are to be coerced into performing this task. This to me is far crueler than simple execution. The prisoners would also be expected to earn their keep as well. A simple murderer would not realistically expect to see freedom for some time under this system, and the prison system would be more cost effective.

A few articles for consideration:

Article One:

A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL Dead wrong in hijack case 3/29/2002

IF ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI is proved guilty of helping plan the Sept. 11 hijack-bombings, he deserves a punishment of great severity. But not the death penalty.

Executing Moussaoui would accomplish one thing only: exacting a measure of retribution. This would assuage some of the anger generated by the barbaric attack, and retribution can be a legitimate social yearning. But the government is wrong to seek the death penalty, as Attorney General John Ashcroft announced yesterday he will do.

This page believes capital punishment should be abolished in the United States, as it has been in most other nations, for a variety of reasons.

One is that the criminal justice system too often convicts people who are innocent. The government's case against Moussaoui has been sketched only hazily. He did not participate directly in the attack - he was in jail on Sept. 11, being held on immigration charges. Federal prosecutors say Moussaoui took flight training in the United States and last summer received payments from a member of a German terrorist cell who at one time was a roommate of Mohammed Atta, one of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Even if the government proves these allegations, it will have to go much further to show that Moussaoui was an actual coconspirator.

Testimony from victims and their families, now being solicited by prosecutors, will remind the nation of the horror of the crime but will not prove Moussaoui's guilt.

For other reasons this case is an especially poor one for the death penalty.

For one thing, the deterrent argument does not apply. Even if Moussaoui's guilt could be established to a certainty, executing him would not prevent other suicide bombers. To terrorists who see their own deaths as part of their mission, capital punishment is no threat.

The case also raises questions of international diplomacy and crime fighting. Moussaoui is a citizen of France, which has no death penalty, and the French justice minister, Marylise Lebranchu, said yesterday that she regretted the US decision. Some foreign nations may not cooperate with US prosecutors if the death penalty is threatened, jeopardizing international criminal investigations.

Even from the perspective of punishment and retribution, seeking to execute Moussaoui is wrongheaded.

If he indeed was a Sept. 11 planner looking forward to a fiery, murderous death, it will be a harsher punishment to spend long years in tight confinement, bearing the condemnation of the world.

This story ran on page A18 of the Boston Globe on 3/29/2002. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Article Two:

Md. Attorney General: End Executions The Associated Press Jan 30 2003 7:03PM

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. called Thursday for Maryland to abolish its death penalty, noting systemic flaws and the possibility innocent people could be put to death.

Because of the system's fallibility,' he said, "capital punishment could come only at the intolerable cost of executing, every so often, the wrong person.'' He said "103 people on death rows around the country have been exonerated since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to reinstate capital punishment in 1976."

Curran, a Democrat, outlined his views in a letter sent Wednesday to Gov. Robert Ehrlich and other state leaders. He has been a consistent opponent of the death penalty and argued it does not deter crime.

Ehrlich, a Republican, has said he will not continue a moratorium on the death penalty imposed by former Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat. Ehrlich has said he will conduct a case-by-case review of death-row pleas for clemency that cross his desk.

An Ehrlich spokeswoman said Thursday that the governor would veto any legislation to abolish the death penalty or restore the moratorium.

Article Three:

For some real arguments and facts and figures, here are some to quote:

This particular reference comes from a college textbook of mine, Criminal Justice Today, 6th edition, Copyright 2001, by Frank Schmallger, Ph.D. If you want the specifics, it's Chapter 10, which deals with Sentencing, including capital punishment. So here's his part on cost.........

" The fourth claim, that the death penalty is too expensive, is difficult to explore. Although the "official" costs associated with capital punishment are high, many death penalty supporters argue that no cost is too high if it achieves justice. Death penalty opponents, on the other hand, point to the huge costs to taxpayers associated with judicial appeals and with the executions themselves. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), which maintains a national database on such costs, "The death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the costs of a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of imprisonment for life."** The DPIC also says that an average execution in Florida costs $3.2 million to carry out, and that "in Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million -- about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years"

Death Penalty Information Center Web site,

Article Four:

U.S. Death Sentences Begin to Decline Tue July 15, 2003 12:14 PM ET By Michael Conlon

CHICAGO (Reuters) - In the midst of a noisy debate over capital punishment in the United States, a quiet change may have settled in: The number of new death penalty sentences being imposed each year has dropped by nearly half

Juries perhaps fearful of putting an innocent person to death are looking more closely, as an alternative, at life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors heedful of the cost death penalty trials entail and the minefield of legal challenges that can get them reversed in court may be choosing their cases more carefully.

"The point we're coming to in America is that we are going to keep refining and refining and refining those who are eligible for the death penalty," said Josh Marquis, the prosecutor for Clatsop County in Astoria, Oregon.

"It should really be reserved for people like (Oklahoma City bomber) Timothy McVeigh," added Marquis, a death penalty proponent who chairs the Capital Litigation Committee of the National District Attorneys Association.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, an average of 296 people were added to death row each year from 1994 to 2000. The actual number of new death sentences in 2000 was 226, well below the average, and the beginning of a decline. The number fell to 155 in 2001, the lowest recorded since 1973.


The bureau says it has not yet compiled statistics for 2002. But Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, says his analysis of the total death row population numbers leads him to believe the 2002 figure will again be around 155.

"There is a reluctance by juries," he said. "The states we've heard from say that cases where the death penalty is sought are more likely to get a life sentence now. For one thing, juries are being told about this option."

Three U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1993 have said jurors must be told that life without the possibility of parole is available as an alternative to the death penalty, if the state involved has such a law on its books, Dieter said.

Thirty-six of the 38 states which have death penalty laws also have life no-parole statutes, he said.

Article Five:

Here is a good news story, this is one about a man who is executed by Florida. He was killed for killing a doctor who was performing abortions. In this persons mind he was killing a killer. So Florida killed a killer who was killing. The man to be executed has supporters vowing revenge against those who would put "their hero" to death.


Joe Scheidler, a well-known anti-abortion activist, complained that Hill had been denied a fair trial because Hill hadn't been allowed to argue that the killings were justified to save lives. "I am not morally opposed to the death penalty," said Scheidler, but "Hill did something wrong that he thought was right. … It was not malicious in the sense that he was just trying to kill a doctor. He was doing it to save lives."

Now fanatics are threatening the lives of the officials who issued and administered Hill's death sentence. Bush, the judge, and two other Florida officials have received ominous letters, each containing a bullet. The message is obvious: Kill Hill, and we'll kill you.

So, here's where things stand: People are threatening to kill officials in Florida for killing Paul Hill for killing John Britton for killing unborn babies. And if they fulfill those threats, you can be sure that they'll be killed, too


Bible Humor:

Before using these quotes, however, one needs to be check them out:

Why I can't own Canadians

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him or her that Leviticus18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. ...End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other laws and how to follow them.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1: 9. The problem is my neighbors. They the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to tell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual cleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? -Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan. Jim


US Death Row Statistics

Source: NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Death Row USA, Winter 2000


All figures as of January 1, 2000.................................... Total Number of Known Death Row Inmates:  3,652


Race Number Percent



Latino/Latina......................... 312.........................8.54

Native American.......................45.........................1.23


Unknown .................................1............................0.03


Gender Number Percent




Age at Crime Number Percent




Jurisdictions with Capital Punishment Statutes:  40 as of 2000






















New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina





South Carolina

South Dakota







US Government

US Military

Jurisdictions without Capital Punishment Statutes:  13 as of 2000


District of Columbia







North Dakota

Rhode Island


West Virginia