Last updated on: 3/27/2017 12:53:16 PM PST
Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed?
The Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association stated the following in an article on its website titled "Reform, Don't Repeal, the Death Penalty" (accessed Mar. 10, 2017):
"[G]iving up on the death penalty would mean giving up on justice for crime victims and their families. The prisoners currently on California's death row have murdered more than 1,000 people. Of those, 229 were children, 43 were peace officers, and 294 of the victims were sexually assaulted and tortured. Having a functional death penalty law will help us protect the public from society's worst criminals and bring some measure of closure to the families whose loved ones were cruelly taken from them."
Mar. 10, 2017 - Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association (LAAPOA)
Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, stated the following in a May 11, 2016 appearance on Fox & Friends, available at YouTube.com:
"The death penalty. It should be brought back and it should be brought back strong... They say it's not a deterrent. Well, you know what, maybe it's not a deterrent but these two [men convicted of killing two police officers in Hattiesburg, MS] will not do any more killing. That's for sure."
May 11, 2016 - Donald J. Trump
Anne Marie Schubert, JD, Sacramento County District Attorney, stated the following in her July 20, 2016 article titled "California's Broken Death Penalty System Can Be Fixed," available at sacbee.com:
"In our experience, most survivors want 'justice' for the murderers of their family members. Repealing the death penalty will not heal these peoples' wounds; it keeps them permanently open...
Moreover, victims' families will always be haunted by the specter that an inmate sentenced to life without parole will suddenly ask the governor to reduce a sentence – as happened recently in the case of a Fresno murderer who waited 36 years and applied for clemency. As long as an inmate sentenced to life without parole lives, the governor could reduce the sentence and a murderer may be released on the streets.
Finally, Briggs [Ron Briggs, former supervisor of El Dorado County in California] is dead wrong to assert that the death penalty has been conclusively shown not to deter crime. Experience and common sense confirm a deterrent effect."
July 20, 2016 - Anne Marie Schubert, JD
Bruce Fein, JD, General Counsel for the Center for Law and Accountability, in an American Bar Association website article titled "Individual Rights and Responsability - The Death Penalty, But Sparingly" (accessed June 17, 2008), offered the following:
"Abolitionists may contend that the death penalty is inherently immoral because governments should never take human life, no matter what the provocation. But that is an article of faith, not of fact, just like the opposite position held by abolitionist detractors, including myself... The death penalty honors human dignity by treating the defendant as a free moral actor able to control his own destiny for good or for ill; it does not treat him as an animal with no moral sense, and thus subject even to butchery to satiate human gluttony. Moreover, capital punishment celebrates the dignity of the humans whose lives were ended by the defendant's predation."
June 17, 2008 - Bruce Fein, JD
Alex Kozinski, JD, Circuit Judge in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a Nov. 7, 2002 Hoover Institution "Interview," stated the following:
"Immanuel Kant said it best. He said a society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else's life is simply immoral. So the question really... when the system works and when you manage to identify somebody who has done such heinous evil, do we as a society have a right to take his life? I think the answer's plainly yes. And I would go with Kant and I would say it is immoral for us not to."
Nov. 7, 2002 - Alex Kozinski, JD
Steven D. Stewart, JD, Clark County Prosecuting Attorney, in an Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney's website section (accessed July 22, 2008) and titled "A Message from the Prosecuting Attorney," offered the following:
"Along with two-thirds of the American public, I believe in capital punishment. I believe that there are some defendants who have earned the ultimate punishment our society has to offer by committing murder with aggravating circumstances present. I believe life is sacred. It cheapens the life of an innocent murder victim to say that society has no right to keep the murderer from ever killing again. In my view, society has not only the right, but the duty to act in self defense to protect the innocent."
July 22, 2008 - Steven D. Stewart, JD
Eliot Spitzer, JD, Former Attorney General and Governor of New York, in a June 13, 2000 hearing on "Postconviction DNA Testing of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Before the Senate Judiciary Committee," available at the judiciary.senate.gov website, stated the following:
"Our federal and state constitutions are replete with rights we afford the accused -- the right to notice of charges, the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to confront witnesses, the right to counsel, the right against self-incrimination. We as a society have made a profound commitment to avoid punishing the innocent. This is particularly important to those of us who support the death penalty in appropriate circumstances. We have determined that there are instances when the crimes are so egregious that society’s ultimate punishment -- the death penalty -- may be appropriate. But the imposition of this punishment can be justified only if we make full use of all available tools to aid in the determination of guilt or innocence."
June 13, 2000 - Eliot Spitzer, JD
Cass R. Sunstein, JD, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University Law School, in a Mar. 2005 Stanford Law Review article cowritten with Adrian Vermeule and titled "Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? Acts, Omissions and Life-Life Tradeoffs," wrote the following:
"[O]n certain empirical assumptions, capital punishment may be morally required, not for retributive reasons, but rather to prevent the taking of innocent lives. In so saying, we are suggesting the possibility that states are obliged to maintain the death penalty option."
Mar. 2005 - Cass R. Sunstein, JD
Charles E. Rice, JSD, Professor Emeritus at Ave Maria School of Law at the University of Notre Dame, in a Sep./Oct. 1998 Catholic.net article titled "Showdown in Texas, The Pope vs. The Culture of Death," offered the following:
"The only situations in which anyone ever has the moral right intentionally to kill anyone are the just war, capital punishment and a justified rebellion. But no one ever has the right intentionally to kill the innocent. The just war and capital punishment are decreed by the state, which derives its authority from God... The right to kill intentionally, therefore, can properly be asserted only by those responsible for the common good"
Sep./Oct. 1998 - Charles E. Rice, JSD
Mark H. Creech, Reverend & Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc, in a Jan. 18, 2007 article titled "A Christian Response to Death Penalty Issues," available at the RenewAmerica website, wrote the following:
"If the death penalty is just retribution, which it is, then it should be administered. If the death penalty can never be administered by a flawless judicial system, which it cannot, then suspending executions to improve its administration will never make it more just."
Jan. 18, 2007 - Mark H. Creech
George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd President of the United States, in a June 23, 2000 CNN.com article "Bush Death Penalty Stance Could Be Campaign Issue," wrote the following:
"I’m going to uphold the law of the land and let the political consequences be what they may. If it costs me politically, it costs me politically... No case is an easy case... I also keep in mind the victims, and the reason I support the death penalty is because it saves lives. That’s why I support it, and the people of my state support it too."
June 23, 2000 - George W. Bush, MBA
Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, in a Mar. 23, 2006 New England Journal of Medicine article titled "When Law and Ethics Collide — Why Physicians Participate in Executions," wrote the following:
"I have personally been in favor of the death penalty. I was a senior official in the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign and in the administration, and in that role I defended the President's stance in support of capital punishment. I have no illusions that the death penalty deters anyone from murder. I also have great concern about the ability of our justice system to avoid putting someone innocent to death. However, I believe there are some human beings who do such evil as to deserve to die. I am not troubled that Timothy McVeigh was executed for the 168 people he had killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, or that John Wayne Gacy was for committing 33 murders."
Mar. 23, 2006 - Atul Gawande, MD, MPH
John C. McAdams, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science at Marquette University, in an Autumn 1998 Law and Contemporary Problems article titled "Racial Disparity and the Death Penalty," wrote the following:
"That inequity in the application of the death penalty requires its abolition is an argument that will be made only by people who do not like it for other reasons. The inequity argument is a pretext, not a reason. Between an inequitable death penalty and no death penalty, I would prefer an inequitable death penalty, just as I would prefer an inequitable tax system to no tax system, and inequitable policing to no policing. I say this because I think it likely that executions deter murders, and it is clear that a majority of Americans - white and black - think that justice requires executions for the most heinous crimes."
Autumn 1998 - John C. McAdams, PhD
David B. Muhlhausen, PhD, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Data Analysis of the Heritage Foundation, in an Aug. 28, 2007 Heritage Foundation website article titled "The Death Penalty Deters Crime and Saves Lives," wrote the following:
"While opponents of capital punishment allege that it is unfairly used against African–Americans, each additional execution deters the murder of 1.5 African–Americans. Further moratoria, commuted sentences, and death row removals appear to increase the incidence of murder... Americans support capital punishment for two good reasons. First, there is little evidence to suggest that minorities are treated unfairly. Second, capital punishment produces a strong deterrent effect that saves lives."
Aug. 28, 2007 - David B. Muhlhausen, PhD
Louis P. Pojman, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at West Point Military Academy, in an essay titled "Why the Death Penalty Is Morally Permissible," from the 2004 book edited by Adam Bedau and titled Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? The Experts on Both Sides Make Their Best Case, wrote:
"Public executions of the convicted murderer would serve as a reminder that crime does not pay. Public executions of criminals seem an efficient way to communicate the message that if you shed innocent blood, you will pay a high price... I agree... on the matter of accountability but also believe such publicity would serve to deter homicide."
2004 - Louis P. Pojman, PhD
Kent Scheidegger, JD, Legal Director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, in a National Online Youth Summit of the American Bar Association website section (accessed Aug. 7, 2008) and titled "Spring 2001: Does Capital Punishment Have a Future?,": offered the following:
"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."
Aug. 7, 2008 - Kent Scheidegger, JD
Roger Clegg, JD, President and General Counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity, in a June 11, 2001 National Review Online article titled "The Color of Death: Does the Death Penalty Discriminate?," wrote the following:
"No one seriously believes that Timothy McVeigh is being put to death because he is a white male. He is being executed because he is a cold-blooded killer, with the reasonable hope that his death will advance the safety and security of the rest of us, whatever our skin color. The same is true for the other cold-blooded killers being put to death."
June 11, 2001 - Roger Clegg, JD
Chris Clem, JD, Former State of Tennessee House Representatives (R-Lookout Mountain), in a Jan. 31, 2002 statement in response to a press release about the cost of capital cases as reported by the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing, stated the following:
"Executions do not have to cost that much. We could hang them and re-use the rope. No cost! Or we could use firing squads and ask for volunteer firing squad members who would provide their own guns and ammunition. Again, no cost."
Jan. 31, 2002 - Chris Clem, JD
The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), in a Mar. 2003 article titled "Prosecutors' Perspective on California's Death Penalty," available at www.cdaa.org, offered the following:
"The death penalty is the will of the people of California. It was restored by voter initiative in 1977, and every subsequent measure to expand its provisions, most recently with the addition of a gang-murder special circumstance in March 2000, has been overwhelmingly approved. The simple fact of the matter is that Californians want to reserve the ultimate punishment of death for those murderers whose actions so truly shock the conscience that life in prison is not adequate."
Mar. 2003 - California District Attorneys Association (CDAA)
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), in a June 13-14, 2000 "Resolution" at a SBC meeting that took place in Florida, stated the following:
"Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention... support the fair and equitable use of capital punishment by civil magistrates as a legitimate form of punishment for those guilty of murder or treasonous acts that result in death."
June 13-14, 2000 - Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)
Carl F. H. Henry, ThD, PhD, Founder and Editor of Christian Today, in his 1988 book titled Twilight of a Great Civilization, wrote:
"Nowhere does the Bible repudiate capital punishment for premeditated murder; not only is the death penalty for deliberate killing of a fellow human being permitted, but it is approved and encouraged, and for any government that attaches at least as much value to the life of an innocent victim as to a deliberate murderer, it is ethically imperative."
1988 - Carl F. H. Henry, ThD, PhD
Parmatmananda Saraswati, Co-ordinator of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, in an Oct./Nov./Dec. 2006 Hinduism Today article titled "Capital Punishment: Time to Abandon It?," wrote the following:
"Capital punishment is allowed under Hindu tradition. Lord Rama is the embodiment of dharma, yet he killed King Bali, who had stolen his own brother's wife... Sometimes I feel that the crimes today are even more heinous than in the past. Hence capital punishment, if sanctioned by the scriptures, should continue."
Oct./Nov./Dec. 2006 - Parmatmananda Saraswati
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in section on its website titled "The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers," (accessed Mar. 27, 2017) stated the following:
"The death penalty has no deterrent effect. Claims that each execution deters a certain number of murders have been thoroughly discredited by social science research...
Mar. 27, 2017 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Pope Francis, 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, stated the following as quoted in a June 22, 2016 article titled "Francis' Video Message at a Congress Against the Death Penalty - An Offence to the Inviolability of Life," available at the official Vatican news website news.va:
"Indeed, nowadays the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person. It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice. Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty...
It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal."
June 22, 2016 - Pope Francis
Ron Briggs, Former District IV Supervisor of El Dorado County in California, stated the following in his July 7, 2016 article titled "Death Penalty Is Destructive to California," available at sacbee.com:
"Though I was once California's biggest proponent of the death penalty, I now feel compelled to admit the policy is destructive to our great state. What we didn't know then is that the death penalty would become an industry that benefits only attorneys and criminals, and no one else. It's an extreme expense to taxpayers, does not make our communities safer and fails to deliver the justice it promised.
Since the initiative became law, California taxpayers have unknowingly spent more than $5 billion to maintain a death row that now houses 747 convicted criminals. During this time, only 13 people have been put to death, at an eye-popping price tag of $384 million per execution...
New studies conclusively show that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. My family and I believed the death penalty would serve as the ultimate warning to criminals, but nearly 40 years of evidence proves it does not work."
July 7, 2016 - Ron Briggs
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, PhD, United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated the following in a Mar. 1, 2017, speech to the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council, available at ohchr.org:
"International and national bodies have determined that several methods of execution are likely to violate the prohibition of torture, because of the pain and suffering they are likely to inflict on the convicted person. Studies of the severe pain and suffering caused by other methods has continued to extend this list, to the point where it has become increasingly difficult for a State to impose the death penalty without violating international human rights law.
The long and highly stressful period that most individuals endure while waiting on 'death row' for years, or even decades, and frequently in isolation, for an uncertain outcome, has also been referenced as constituting torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment...
Furthermore, when the authorities fail to give adequate information about the timing of executions, they maintain not only the convicted person but also his children and other family members in permanent anticipation of imminent death. This acute mental distress, which may be compounded by failure to return the body to families for burial, or inform them of the location of burial, is unjustifiable...
There are many reasons why we should move away from the death penalty, starting with its capricious and frequently discriminatory application, and its failure to demonstrate any deterrent effect beyond that of other punishments. The severe mental and physical suffering which are inflicted by capital punishment on the person concerned and family members should now be added to the weight of the argument. The use of the death penalty should be ended."
Mar. 1, 2017 - Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, PhD
Bloomberg View wrote in its Feb. 23, 2014 editorial "Ban the Death Penalty" at bloombergview.com:
"Executions should be banned by act of Congress for this simple reason: Experience has shown that the death penalty doesn't serve the cause of justice… How likely is it, really, that a killer will be more deterred by the risk of the death penalty than by having to spend the rest of his life in prison? The claim fails the test of common sense. Criminologists and police chiefs say the death penalty just doesn't influence murderers -- partly because its application is so haphazard… It's true that the purpose of punishment is not only deterrence but also retribution. But this doesn't justify the popular view that killers should be killed, any more than it would support the idea that rapists should be raped or thieves stolen from. To be just, retribution must be measured and restrained. That's the difference between justice and revenge…
The extraordinary crimes that would justify the death penalty are difficult to imagine, much less define, before the fact. And, even in exceptional cases, the requirement to prove guilt beyond any doubt is hard to satisfy. (What does ‘beyond any doubt’ actually mean? Is a psychopath guilty beyond any doubt?) Let's allow that it would have been right to execute Hitler. But let's also recognize that restricting the death penalty to the few cases where it would be both just and safe is impractical. The best pragmatic course is not to use the death penalty more sparingly but to abolish it outright."
Feb. 23, 2014 - Bloomberg
Thurgood Marshall, JD, late Justice of the US Supreme Court, in a June 29, 1972 Furman v. Georgia concurrent opinion, stated:
"[Capital punishment] violates the Eighth Amendment because it is morally unacceptable to the people of the United States at this time in their history. In judging whether or not a given penalty is morally acceptable, most courts have said that the punishment is valid unless 'it shocks the conscience and sense of justice of the people.' Assuming knowledge of all the facts presently available regarding capital punishment, the average citizen would, in my opinion, find it shocking to his conscience and sense of justice. For this reason alone, capital punishment cannot stand."
June 29, 1972 - Thurgood Marshall, LLB
Amnesty International, in a website section titled "Death Penalty Q&A," available at www.amnesty.org (accessed Aug. 6, 2008), offered the following:
"Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights."
Aug. 6, 2008 - Amnesty International
William J. Brennan, Jr., JD, former US Supreme Court Justice, in a July 2, 1976 Gregg v. Georgia, dissenting opinion, stated the following:
"Death is not only an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality, and in its enormity, but it serves no penal purpose more effectively than a less severe punishment; therefore the principle inherent in the Clause that prohibits pointless infliction of excessive punishment when less severe punishment can adequately achieve the same purposes invalidates the punishment."
July 2, 1976 - William J. Brennan, Jr., JD
Bryan Stevenson, JD, Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and Founder-Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, in his 2004 article "Close to Death: Reflections on Race and Capital Punishment in America," from Debating the Death Penalty: Should America Have Capital Punishment? The Experts on Both Sides Make Their Best Case, wrote:
"Embracing a certain quotient of racial bias and discrimination against the poor is an inexorable aspect of supporting capital punishment. This is an immoral condition that makes rejecting the death penalty on moral grounds not only defensible but necessary for those who refuse to accept unequal or unjust administration of punishment."
2004 - Bryan Stevenson, JD
Stephen B. Bright, JD, Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, in an Oct. 27, 2007 Wisconsin Law Review article titled "Will the Death Penalty Remain Alive in the Twenty-First Century?," wrote the following:
"Do we want a hateful, vengeful society, one that turns its back on its children and then executes them, that denies its mentally ill the treatment and the medicine they need and then puts them to death when demons are no longer kept at bay... If we here in the United States examine our own system, face its flaws, and think about what kind of society we want to have, we will ultimately conclude that, like slavery and segregation, the death penalty is a relic of another era, that it represents the dark side of the human spirit, and that we are capable of more constructive approaches to the problem of crime in our society. And we will then join the rest of the civilized world in making permanent, absolute and unequivocal the injunction 'Thou Shall Not Kill.'”
Oct. 27, 2007 - Stephen B. Bright, JD
John Dear, Jesuit Priest from the Society of Jesus, in a June 17, 2008 National Catholic Reporter article titled "Abolish the Death Penalty Now!", wrote:
"Capital punishment can claim nothing to commend it. It will not bring healing or justice or restitution. It offers no hope for a nonviolent society. It reinforces the heart-rending cycle of violence; it lays the burden of yet another murder. Execution gives death as social purpose ever greater sway... More, capital punishment is freighted with inconsistencies. Behind it lies an illogical maxim: we kill those who kill to show that killing is wrong. If we really believed that killing was wrong, the state would set an example; official killing would be banished."
June 17, 2008 - John Dear
Dan Markel, JD, Assistant Professor at Florida State University College of Law, in a Summer 2005 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review article titled "State, Be Not Proud: A Retributivist Defense of the Commutation of the Death Row and the Abolition of the Death Penalty," wrote:
"I appealed to the notion that embedded within the confrontational conception of retribution is a commitment to respecting the dignity of every person, a dignity we affirm by punishing offenders for the consequences of their freely chosen and autonomous actions. Such respect for human dignity entails obligations to the offender as well as to ourselves, and among those is the obligation not to punish in a way that erodes human dignity. Capital punishment degrades dignity, on this view, because it unnecessarily extinguishes human life in the presence of viable alternatives. Taken together, these reasons counsel in favor not only of a blanket commutation, but also the abolition of the death penalty itself."
Summer 2005 - Dan Markel, JD
The Economist magazine, in a Dec. 14, 2005 The Economist article titled "After Tookie," offered the following:
"The Economist opposes the death penalty: state-sponsored killing is inhuman, its effectiveness as a deterrent is at best unproven and it is no less prone to miscarriages of justice than more easily reversible sentences. We would not under any circumstances have wanted to execute Stanley 'Tookie' Williams, who was killed by lethal injection in San Quentin this week..."
Dec. 14, 2005 - The Economist
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in a June 28, 2007 NAACP website section titled "NAACP Remains Steadfast in Ending Death Penalty and Fighting Injustice in America's Justice System," wrote:
"The NAACP remains resolutely opposed to the death penalty... The government’s claim to the moral authority to exact the ultimate punishment is based on the belief that the punishment will be administered fairly and even-handedly. But even a cursory review of the death penalty at both the federal and state levels indicates that this is false."
June 28, 2007 - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Samvidananda Saraswati, Head of Kailash Ashram, in an Oct./Nov./Dec. 2006 article "Capital Punishment: Time to Abandon It?" published in Hinduism Today, stated:
"Hinduism is full of compassion and forgiveness. Leave aside human beings, we are supposed to be kind even to insects and animals. We are not supposed to kill a small insect. Therefore, taking the life of a human being is a very big issue for us. Our Hindu dharma is very clear that use of violence against anyone is not allowed. Any other type of punishment may be given, but we should not take anyone's life. Our scriptures and Vedas do not favor capital punishment. They advocate the principle of nonviolence."
Oct./Nov./Dec. 2006 - Samvidananda Saraswati
Death Penalty Focus, an abolition of capital punishment advocacy organization, in its GuideStar.org entry (accessed Aug. 27, 2008), offered the following:
"We believe that the death penalty is an ineffective, cruel, and simplistic response to the serious and complex problem of violent crime. It institutionalizes discrimination against the poor and people of color, diverts attention and financial resources away from preventative measures that would actually increase public safety, risks the execution of innocent people, and does not deter crime. We are convinced that when the electorate is informed about the true human and financial costs associated with state-sanctioned killing, the United States will join the majority of nations throughout the world who have abolished it."
Aug. 27, 2008 - Death Penalty Focus
Helen Prejean, MA, anti-death penalty activist and Catholic Nun of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, in a May-June 2000 Fellowship of Reconciliation website section titled "One Woman Talking: An Interview With Sister Helen Prejean," stated the following:
"I say in my talks that the death penalty epitomizes the deepest wounds in our society, which are militarism, poverty, and racism! We've got a social problem, so we send in the Marines. We target the enemy, dehumanize, terminate him. It's that same war-making spirit that makes the death penalty... We are just beginning to see a thaw in a huge glacier that we've been locked into with the death penalty since 1976. At least six states have initiatives for a moratorium, most recently in Illinois. Polls show that support is dropping. It's down to sixty-one percent from seventy-five percent. In 1999 it dropped five percent. I think people are more aware of the eighty-seven innocent people that have now come off of Death Row, that the supposed best criminal justice system in the world has a lot of flaws in it. I think it's raised consciousness about the death penalty, and how we don't need it."
May-June 2000 - Helen Prejean, MA
Richard C. Dieter, MS, JD, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, in Feb. 7, 2007 testimony to the Judiciary Committee of the Colorado State House of Representatives regarding "House Bill 1094 - Costs of the Death Penalty and Related Issues," stated:
"I believe it is appropriate to say that the House Bill 1094 [to abolish the death penalty]gives Colorado an opportunity to extricate itself from what many states are increasingly finding to be an ineffective and expensive burden. The clear national trend is away from a broad use of the death penalty, as indicated by a 60% drop in death sentences, a 45% decline in executions, a smaller death row, and a decreasing level of public support. In public opinion polls, there is a clear upward trend in support for life-without-parole sentences as a substitute for the death penalty... Moreover, the states without the death penalty have fared better in reducing their murder rates than states with the death penalty. The death penalty concentrates millions of dollars on a few people with almost no control over the outcome. (This does not even take into account the less tangible costs such as the risk of executing the innocent, or the divisiveness caused by the perceptions of racial unfairness.) It is true that you cannot put a price on justice. But you can put a price on programs with a proven track record in improving the safety of the community. A state has to choose where to put its limited resources."
Feb. 7, 2007 - Richard C. Dieter, MS, JD
Bill O. Hing, JD, Professor of Law at the University of California Davis School of Law, in a June 30, 2008 report written as member of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice that was titled "Report and Recommendations on the Administration on the Administration of the Death Penalty in California - Supplemental Statement on Repealing the Death Penalty," offered the following:
"We support the recommendations of the Commission if Californians elect to continue the death penalty. However, we write separately because, after carefully considering all the information and evidence put before the Commission, we believe that the death penalty should be repealed. The death penalty is too costly, the possibility is high that a person who has been wrongfully convicted will be put to death, capital punishment inordinately affects communities of color, the imposition of the death penalty varies greatly from county to county, a low income defendant faces a troubling disadvantage when charged with a capital offense, the death penalty forecloses any possibility of healing and redemption, the death qualification juror requirement inherently and unjustly biases the process against the defendant, and California should follow the lead of other civilized societies who have concluded that the death penalty be abolished."
June 30, 2008 - Bill O. Hing, JD
Dalai Lama, Tibetan Head of State and Buddhist spiritual leader, in a "Message Supporting the Moratorium on the Death Penalty," read by Kobutsu Malone, Zenji at the Apr. 9, 1999 event "Creating a Legacy," sponsored by peaceCENTER, stated:
"However horrible the act they have committed, I believe that everyone has the potential to improve and correct themselves. Therefore, I am optimistic that it remains possible to deter criminal activity, and prevent such harmful consequences of such acts in society, without having to resort to the death penalty. My overriding belief is that is is always possible for criminals to improve and that by its very finality the death penalty contradicts this. Therefore, I support those organizations and individuals who are trying to bring an end to the use of the death penalty... I wholeheartedly support an appeal to those countries who at present employ the death penalty to observe an unconditional moratorium."
Apr. 9, 1999 - Dalai Lama
The Lancet, a British peer-reviewed medical journal, in an Apr. 16, 2005 editorial titled "Medical Collusion in the Death Penalty: An American Atrocity," offered the following:
"Capital punishment is not only an atrocity, but also a stain on the record of the world’s most powerful democracy. Doctors should not be in the job of killing. Those who do participate in this barbaric act are shameful examples of how a profession has allowed its values to be corrupted by state violence."
Apr. 16, 2005 - The Lancet
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in an Apr. 2006 USCCB website section titled "The Death Penalty," wrote:
"Since 1980, the U.S. Catholic bishops have taken a strong and principled position against the use of the death penalty in the United States. The Catholic Church opposes the use of the death penalty not just for what it does to those guilty of horrible crimes, but for how it affects society. Last November, the U.S. Catholic Bishops affirmed this position in their statement A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death. This statement complements the efforts of the Catholic Church for many years and is a part of a comprehensive Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty launched in March of 2005. Moreover, Pope John Paul II, in both The Gospel of Life and the revised Catechism of the Catholic Church, stated that our society has adequate alternative means today to protect society from violent crime without resorting to capital punishment."
Apr. 2006 - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)