Friday, June 08, 2018

Why has death penalty support dropped? - Q & A 4

Why has death penalty support dropped?   - Q & A 4
Dudley Sharp

Q - Why has death penalty support dropped?
There appears to be 3 main reasons:
1) Media bias is so strong against the death penalty and objective reporting seems to have all but disappeared, as detailed (1)  and most folks get their death penalty information from the media. Basic.
2) Support "MAY" have dropped -  Picking & Choosing Polls
--  a 2013 poll showing 86% death penalty support, the highest I have ever seen, was picked up by no media outlets - None - even though the pollster, Angus-Ried, is very well known and was the #1 most accurate pollster in the 2012 presidential election.(2). AR got the message and stopped doing their regular death penalty poll.
--  Gallup polls, always, has multiple questions and answers, different polls, within their annual death penalty poll and the media only reports on the smallest death penalty support response, when other answers show about a 10% spike in death penalty support, as here:
October 29, 2013, Gallup finds:
60% death penalty support, their lowest in 40 years (1, fn3).
70% death penalty support was found from another Gallup question, within the same poll (1, fn4).
--  When providing the "sometimes" answer to the standard "do you support the death penalty for murder?" question death penalty support rises, dramatically. That is, rarely, used, anymore. It is interesting, as that is where you will get the most accurate answers, because we only use it rarely and sometimes, as the statutes dictate.
We know, as do the pollsters, that the "yes" or "no" answers end up increasing death penalty opposition, by excluding the "sometimes" answer.
--- An excellent example of this is provided by Gallup:
When Gallup asked about truly "death penalty eligible" murders, as with Timothy McVeigh’s mass murders in the Oklahoma City bombing, his execution was supported by 81%, while 16% opposed (Gallup 5/02/01). (3)

With nearly identical polling dates (Gallup, 6/10/01), Gallup found 65% general support for executions for all murders, with 28% opposed, when excluding the "sometimes" option. (3)

Those Gallup polls found that death penalty opposition fell by 43% and support rose by 25% , when comparing polls of a specific death penalty eligible crime, those with a "sometimes" response option (more support. less opposition) to the category of all murders, excluding a "sometimes" answer  (less support, more opposition, still majority support), which is what Gallup does. (3)
Quinnipiac polling has a decade or so of polling with "sometimes" and "no" answers, reflecting those same outcomes.
3)    Very important -  These  are, rarely, if ever, shown by the media:
--   95% Death Penalty Support by Loved Ones of Capital Murder Victims, from non scientific polling (4)
--   92% of police chiefs support the death penalty (5)
You almost, never, see the 92%, anywhere, because the study was funded by an anti death penalty group, The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
What we, almost, always see from the media and other snti death penalty folks, from that study is this:
"Police chiefs rank the death penalty last as a way of reducing violent crime, placing it behind curbing drug abuse, more police. "
Never is that analyzed in media.
Of course the death penalty is last at "reducing violent crime". It has to be. Capital murder is, by far, the smallest component of all violent crimes and, as a result of that, any deterrent and incapacitation effects of the death penalty/executions will, necessarily, be the smallest for all other violent crimes and there sanctions, as detailed and 19 states don't even have the death penalty.  
To show some perspective:
There have been about 8400 death sentences and 1400 executions since 1973.
Just today, right now, there are about 6, 000, 000  persons under criminal justice "control", meaning in jail, in prison, and under some sort of supervision, parole or probation.  What do you think that total number would be, for all violent crimes, from 1973-today -  20-30 million?
Per year, drug abuse affects about 40 million Americans and costs about $740 billion per year (6).
The police support the death penalty because it is just in some cases, just as the support for other sanction.
1) There are, at least, two ways to check media bias.
a) Look at stories that had weeks and months to fact check/vet, as here:
Courts, states put death penalty on life support
b) Then look at the pro death penalty side of the story and reflect how often you find a balance in death penalty stories - almost never.
The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents

2) 86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013
World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty
3)   US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High
4)   95% Death Penalty Support by Loved Ones of Capital Murder Victims
5) figure 5, pg 15, , THE FRONT LINE: Law Enforcement Views on the Death Penalty , The Death Penalty Information Center,
6) Drug Abuse Statistics
Trends and Statistics, National Institute of Drug Abuse

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Texas: Why Fewer Death Sentences

Texas: Why Fewer Death Sentences
Dudley Sharp

Re: Texas is issuing fewer death sentences and executing fewer inmates, report says, Samantha Ketterer, Dallas Morning News, 12/15/16

From: Dudley Sharp

The report, issued by Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP), finds that opinions and practices, against the death penalty, as well as the adoption of life without parole (LWOP) in 2005, expensive death penalty trials and better legal defense are reasons for the drop, as per Kristin Houlé, the coalition's director.

Rob Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, finds:

"I don’t know that that (the drop in death sentences) should surprise anybody," "The number of murders alone and the number of death-eligible cases is way lower than it was in the '80s and '90s."

Whose right? Kepple - by a mile.

The Texas Life Without Parole (LWOP) law went into effect September 1, 2005. I didn't find any post 9/1/2005 capital murders that pled down to LWOP before 12/31/2005 nor any death penalty option trials that were decided prior to 12/31/2005, with a LWOP sentence. 
There was a 69% drop in death sentences, from 48 in 1999 to 15 in 2005, PRIOR to LWOP having any effect on death sentences. 
The first year that the LWOP law could have had an effect on death sentences was in 2006, with 11 death sentences.
In 2007, death sentences rose by 36%.
With almost total consistency, death sentences averaged a little over 10 per year from 2006-2014, which added an additional 10% drop, to 79%, from the 69% decline of 1999-2005, with that 10%, easily, seen as part of a consistent 15 year (1999-2014)  downward trend, unaffected by LWOP.

Prior to LWOP application, death sentences averaged about a 10% drop per year from 1999-2005, but about a 1% drop per year from 2006-2014, after LWOP application.
Death sentences dropped in 2015 and 2016, to 2 and 4, respectively, 10 years after the LWOP law, with no reason to suggest that LWOP was the reason for those numbers, after a 10 year wait, when none of the immediate, previous 15 year, 79% drop can be connected to LWOP. In fact, the reduction of death sentences dropped, dramatically, about 90%/yr., from 2006-2014, after the LWOP became law.
It is important to note that juries were not allowed to be told that the previous life sentences in Texas had parole eligibility.

Texas had a 55% drop in murders (71% drop in rate),  37% drop in robberies (60% drop in rate), from 1991-2014.

Robbery/murder is the most common death eligible crime, which may have dropped 70-80%, or more, during that 1999-2014 period, which may account for the entire drop.

With the exception of the drop in capital murders, the other alleged reasons for the drop in death sentences, mentioned by Houle,  have a much more minor effect, if any, with Houl√© completely missing the most obvious, as virtually all anti death penalty folks do, intentionally, as it doesn't fit the anti death penalty narrative.

A series of US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions, limiting death penalty application, may have also contributed to the drop.

Monday, February 05, 2018

"The Penalty", a documentary

Rebuttal of "The Penalty", an anti death penalty documentary
Dudley Sharp

Fact Checking Required For All Sides

"The Penalty" is an anti death penalty documentary about the US death penalty. For those, unaware, documentaries can be, utter, fiction.

"The Penalty" looks at three death penalty cases, reviewed in 1, 2 and 3, below. The BOLD headings are the film's claim, followed, by my rebuttal or clarification.

1) Dennis McGuire's Botched Execution

McGuire's execution was not botched (1), which fuels justifiable skepticism for“The Penalty”.

There was (and is) zero indication that McGuire was conscious (1) or that his execution was, otherwise, botched (1),

"Amy Borror, a spokeswoman for the public defender's office, said all accounts from execution eyewitnesses - which did not include Lowe - indicate McGuire was unconscious at the time he struggled to breathe." (1)

The very well known overdosing effects include respiratory distress (2), which is expected.

Regarding the drugs used in McGuire's execution: “By virtue of what (the drugs) do, they cause unconsciousness, and they inhibit pain,” said Dr. Howard Nearman, professor of anesthesiology at Case Western Reserve University (1).


False claims of "botched executions" are common (2) and, easily, rebutted (2).

My condolences for the loved ones of Joy Stewart, Kenny Stewart and unborn child Carl.

2)  Death Penalty: Bad for Families. The capital murder of Shelby Farah.

The death penalty was a huge benefit for Shelby Farah's family.

Shelby Farah was murdered in 2013. She was a cashier, who gave all the money to a robber, did everything he said and, then, he shot her 3 times, murdering her. He was a repeat offender, as about 70% of murderers are.

Shelby was a wonderful, generous 20 year old, as so, often, described by her mother, Darlene Farah.

Darlene opposed the death penalty because of the long trial and appeals time, which are not required, as detailed (3).

How did Darlene avoid the long trial and appeals time? The death penalty.

The case was resolved with a plea to life without parole (LWOP). No trial, no appeals.

There is, only, one way to get a plea to LWOP. You have to have the death penalty and it has to be a credible option in the case.

It was.

With no death penalty option, Darlene would have faced a trial with LWOP being the maximum sanction, with the potential of lifetime appeals with LWOP, something that Darlene did not acknowledge (4), and with the possibility of a lesser sanction given, if applicable, in the case.

If LWOP is the jurisdictions maximum sentence, the best plea deal would have been life with parole eligibility, often not an option, because of the horrors of the crime, thereby requiring a LWOP trial and appeals, causing much more time and trauma than a plea to LWOP, only possible with a death penalty option.

A prior district attorney had insisted upon seeking the death penalty in this case, but a newly elected DA agreed to the plea to LWOP, only possible with a credible death penalty option.

Darlene, also, believes that Shelby would have opposed the death penalty in her case, stating: " . . . more killing in no way honors my daughter’s memory or provides solace to my family." (4)

Choosing the most just sanction is the only way that a jury or judge can honor the victims, in court. In a capital, jury case, the jury will have the option between death and LWOP, choosing the most appropriate sanction, based within justice. Darlene did not detail how LWOP would honor Shelby, any more or less, (4) had a jury decided on that sanction, over the death penalty.

The important, additional, solace one gets from the death penalty/execution is that living murderers harm and murder, again, in prison, after escape and after improper release and executed murderers do not, a very big deal for those who have, already, lost a loved one to murder (5, 6).

Additionally, the enhanced deterrent effect of the death penalty, over LWOP, has never been negated and, never, can be (7).

We all know that life is preferred over death and death is feared more than life, especially when you are a healthy 28 year old, the average age of capital murderers.

What we prefer more, deters less. What we fear more, deters more.

Even non deterred murderers, confirm that - a bit late for them and their murdered victims  -  nearly 100% of all capital murderers do all they can, in pre trial, trial, in appeals and commutation proceedings to avoid the death penalty and get a life sentence. You'll notice, there is never a plea bargain to a death sentence.


Darlene is unaware that the reason there is "geographical disparity" in death penalty application is because about 2.7% of counties have the majority of violent crimes. Again, basic for the death penalty and all other violent crimes - not a disparity, but proper application.

My condolences for the loved ones of Shelby.

3)  The wrongful conviction of Damon Thibodeaux

Thibodeaux spent 15 years on death row and was released in 2012, after the prosecutor found Thibodeaux 's confession unreliable. Thibodeaux confessed to the rape and murder of his 14 years old cousin, Chrystal Champagne.

Thibodeaux has been trying to get compensated for his 15 years on death row. So far, that has not been resolved. Thibodeaux has been unable to establish proof of  his actual innocence for nearly 22 years, since the 1996 rape/murder.  Proof of actual innocence is the standard for getting compensated, as well detailed, here (3).  Nothing has progressed since 

So, we'll just have to wait and see if his proof of actual innocence is presented and established, which has not occurred, for 22 years.

False claims of  "exonerated" and "innocent" are common (8) and, easily, rebutted (8).

My condolences for the loved ones of Crystal Champagne.

The following rebuts other issues brought up within "The Penalty" and/or other claims made by those associated with "The Penalty":

4) “One For Ten,”  is the previous anti death penalty "documentary" by this same crew, whereby the title represents that for every 10 executions, there is 1 death row exoneration.

This reflects the, alleged, near 10 to 1 ratio of the, now, about 1470 executions and 161 death row "exonerations".

Complete, utter nonsense, with the constant anti death penalty deception being this:

For over 20 years, the anti death penalty folks have redefined both "innocent" and "exonerated", as if they had redefined lie as truth (8), and then stuffed a bunch of cases into those fraudulent definitions which, now, number 161, of which 70-83% are unfounded claims, as detailed (8). When I was, still, anti death penalty, it took less than 5 minutes, of fact checking, to discover those fraudulent definitions.

Possibly 37, or 0.4%, of the 8200 sentenced to death since 1976, may have proof of actual innocence. All have been released, but one, who died on death row. (8), as he would have, serving life. 

The correct math is that there might be some 37 death row inmates with provable, actual innocence, out of about 8200 of those sentenced to death, or about 1 for 220.

5) Death penalty problems

The problems that "The Penalty" and crew attribute to the death penalty are either false (9) or are not the fault of the death penalty, but those who manage it, which includes Governors, Attorney Generals, legislators and those who are the case managers – the judges (10).

For example, Virginia has executed 112 murderers, since 1976, within 7 years of full appeals (11). Obviously, if Virginia can do it, all states can, if, responsibly, managed. (10,11 ).

Responsible management overcomes one of Darlene Farah's objections.

6) The Death Penalty Doesn't Provide Closure

Of course, execution is closure. It is closure of the legal process, found as just, by the overwhelming percentage of murder victim survivors (5) and it prevents that murderer from ever haring anyone again – a very big deal for many of those survivors (6, 7).

Of course, execution cannot bring closure to the emotional and psychological challenges of those who have lost loved ones to murder. No sanction does that nor are they expected to.

7) Clemency for Raymond Tibbetts (12)

There is no case for the Governor granting clemency.

Tibbetts was convicted of the aggravated murders of Judith Sue Crawford, Tibbets' wife, and Fred Hicks. Hicks was sixty-seven years old and suffered from emphysema. Crawford was his live-in caretaker.

Tibbetts, who had married Crawford just over a month earlier, also lived in the house.

On November 6, 1997, Hicks’s sister, Joan Hicks Landwehr, arrived at Hicks’s home in Cincinnati to meet him for lunch. After getting no answer at the door and seeing Hicks’s car missing from its usual parking space, Landwehr entered the home with her spare key. 

Landwehr went to a second-floor living room and found Hicks’s dead body slumped in a chair. Landwehr immediately called 911. Landwehr noticed that her brother’s chest and stomach were bloody and that his right pants pocket, where Hicks usually kept his money, was turned inside out.

When Cincinnati police officers responded a short time later, they found Hicks with a tube still connecting his nose to a nearby oxygen tank. Two knives protruded from Hicks’s chest, a third knife protruded from his back, and the broken blade of a fourth knife was also in his back. Officers found additional knives and a knife sheath near Hicks. A butcher block used to store knives lay behind Hicks’s chair. Deputy coroner Daniel Schultz later determined that Hicks died as a result of multiple stab wounds to his chest that punctured Hicks’s heart, lungs, and aorta. Hicks did not have any defensive wounds.

Officers found Crawford lying dead on the floor of a third-floor room, covered with a sheet. 

Crawford had been brutally beaten; her head was cracked open and lay in a pool of blood. 

Pieces of Crawford’s brain were lying on the floor next to her head. Crawford had also been stabbed several times, with one knife still stuck in her neck. Crawford also had a broken left arm, which Dr. Schultz characterized as a probable result of her attempt to ward off blows. 

Police found a bloodstained baseball bat and several knives near Crawford’s body. Dr. Schultz concluded that Crawford died of multiple skull fractures and that at least nine of her stab wounds were inflicted after her death. In all, Crawford had been struck at least four times in the head with blunt-force blows and sustained stab wounds to her back, lungs, chest, arm, shoulder, and neck.

8) Hank Skinner is Innocent

Hank Skinner, Guilty as Always

More to come

1)  The (Imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution

3)  For compensation, former Death Row inmate Damon Thibodeaux must prove innocence, state reiterates, July 18, 2014,

4) "My Daughter's Killer Should Not Get the Death Penalty", By DARLENE FARAH, TIME, February 19, 2016,

5)  95% Death Penalty Support by Loved Ones of Capital Murder Victims
8)  a. The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
   b.  An Open Fraud in the Death Penalty Debate: How Death Penalty Opponents Lie
        The "Innocent", the "Exonerated" and Death Row:
 c.  The 4.1% "Innocent" on Death Row: More Nonsense

9)  The Death Penalty: Fair and Just


The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents

10)  Judges Responsible For Grossly Uneven Executions

11) See Virginia within

12)  Moritz alumnus featured in new documentary “The Penalty”, By Ghezal Barghouty, The Lantern,  January 24, 2018,

Saturday, December 09, 2017

By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment

By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, 2017, Edward Feser and Joseph M. Bessette, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, $24.95). Visit or call 1-800-651-1531. 

Edward Feser's Blog, here:

Reviews and defense 

1) Edward Peters, Professor of Canon Law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Canon Law,May 23, 2017,

"Feser and Bessette’s defense of capital punishment is a triumph of truth over platitude, of fact over fiction, of argument over emotion.  In response to recent condemnations of the death penalty issued by various ecclesiastics, Feser and Bessette calmly and methodically set forth the philosophical, Scriptural, doctrinal, and sociological arguments grounding the Catholic Church’s hitherto unquestioned – and ultimately unquestionable – support for the death penalty when it is justly administered."

" . . . all contributions to the capital punishment debate, especially as conducted by and among Catholics, must incorporate the work of Feser and Bessette or risk irrelevance."

"Defenders of capital punishment will find in these pages persuasive arguments upholding the proper exercise of this momentous state power and opponents of the death penalty will see their challenges accurately depicted and soberly answered." "This exactly is what Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette provide in their recent book, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed, the most comprehensive case ever assembled. Yes, one can avoid becoming persuaded by not looking into that telescope. But if you do, you may see so clearly the unchanging nature of the question that you will quip, Eppur non si muove,“Nevertheless it does not move.” 

2) Reviews: By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, Janet Smith, moral theologian, Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2017 

" . . . the arguments are so strong, I timidly suggest, that perhaps the authors should have allowed readers to “draw their own conclusions” more often.  But let me say, the book simply flattens its opponents." "(Bessette)  uses this data to refute claims made by the (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) that capital punishment has no deterrent power, that innocent persons are regularly executed, that the application of the death penalty has been unfairly applied to minorities and the poor." 

"Feser systematically refutes the arguments of those who think the Church now teaches that capital punishment is intrinsically unjust.  He helps readers to see how weak our attachment to justice has become and how little we allow tight reasoning about justice to govern our thinking…" 

3) Yes, traditional Church teaching on capital punishment is definitive, Dr. Edward Feser, The Catholic World Report, 11/21/2017, 

"Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the popes for 2000 years have taught that capital punishment can be legitimate in principle . . .  this teaching is irreformable." 

"Given the “hermeneutic of continuity” emphasized by Pope Benedict XVI – and given especially the teaching of the First Vatican Council that popes have no authority to introduce new doctrines  . . . " 

4) Capital Punishment: Eppur non si muove, Michael Pakaluk, The Catholic Thing, NOVEMBER 4, 2017, 

“If bloodless means suffice, they must be used instead.” But what if bloodless means do not suffice? Then bloody means must be used. The man already in solitary confinement who finds his chance to murder the visiting physician or pastor. The revolutionary who remains a rallying point. Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Alfred Rosenberg, Hermann Goering, Arthur Seyss-Inquart – you think bloodless means suffice to uphold justice? You are entitled to that minority opinion, but you cannot say that it is against reason, against conscience, to hold otherwise." 

"But in our day, when even the heavens apparently do move, we need a different sort of telescope for seeing the changelessness of the other – one that has the clear lens of reason, and the long extension of history, and which is situated in a calm and still observatory." 

5) Reply to Brugger and Tollefsen 

Part 1

Traditional Catholic Doctrine on Capital Punishment is Irreversible: A Reply to E. Christian Brugger, by  Edward Feser, The Public Discourse, November 19th, 2017, 

"The Catholic Church has always taught that capital punishment can be legitimate under certain circumstances. Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and every pope who has commented on the topic up to Benedict XVI have all clearly and repeatedly affirmed this teaching." 

Part 2 

St. John Paul II Did Not Change Catholic Teaching on Capital Punishment: A Reply to E.Christian Brugger by  Edward Feser, The Public Discourse,  November 20th, 2017, 

"To change (the Church's 2000 year old teachings) would be to contradict the clear and consistent teaching of scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the popes, and no pope has the authority to do that." 

Part 3 

Capital Punishment, Catholicism, and Natural Law: A Reply to Christopher Tollefsen, by Edward Feser, 11/21/2017,  

" . . . the reason a person can be deprived even of the highest good, God, is that a person can do something to deserve such a loss. The same thing is true of life. A person has a right not to be killed unless—by virtue of having committed a sufficiently heinous crime—he has, as Pope Pius XII put it, “deprived himself of the right to live.” Tollefsen’s argument against capital punishment simply ignores the fact that the right to the enjoyment of a good any good—depends on whether or not one is guilty or innocent." 

6) Review: By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, Daniel Lendman, Reading Religion, a publication of the American Academy of Religion, June 29, 2017, 

"Feser and Bessette… insist that the legitimacy of capital punishment is the ancient and long standing teaching of the Catholic Church.  [They] go even farther, laying out a compelling case that denying that capital punishment can be legitimate in principle is proximate to heresy…" 

"While the context of this argument is decidedly and purposefully Catholic, readers of different religions and belief systems can still find forceful natural law arguments supporting capital punishment in this book.  The authors also offer arguments claiming the prudence of using capital punishment in the United States, . . . "

7) "Can the Church ever bless the death penalty?", by Dan Hitchens, deputy editor of the Catholic Herald, 25 May 2017, 

"As Feser remarks  . . .  some theologians “have turned the notion of development into a euphemism or lawyer’s trick whereby outright reversals of past teaching are magically made orthodox by slapping the label ‘development’ on them.  You might as well say that denying Christ’s divinity or the doctrine of original sin can be reconciled with past teaching as long as we call them ‘developments’ and get enough people to go along with this sleight of hand.” 

“Punishment,” Feser and Bessette write, “is a matter of restoring the natural connection between pain and acting contrary to nature’s ends.” "They quote Aquinas as saying that since an offender “has been too indulgent to his will”, he should suffer “either willingly or unwillingly, something contrary to what he would wish”,for the sake of the “restoration of the equality of justice”. The same idea is affirmed by the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Punishment has the primary aimof redressing the disorder introduced by the offence.' " 

8) Capital Punishment Revisited, By CHRISTOPHER MANION, The Wanderer, 12/9/2017, 

From the book: “ . . . no Catholic may condemn capital punishment as intrinsically unjust, though a Catholic may still oppose the use of the death penalty on prudential grounds. But we will also show that there are no good prudential grounds for opposing it and that there are powerful prudential grounds not only for maintaining it but for applying it with some regularity." " . .  a highly recommended book that sheds the patient, clear light of reason on the issue of capital punishment  . . .  beautifully researched and clearly written work will now become the standard Catholic work on capital punishment." 

"Every U.S. bishop should read it." " . . . will it convince even one bishop? That prospect is a false hope and a distraction. In this and all efforts, the writer must have the goal not of persuading the hierarchy but of telling the truth, and letting the truth tell its own story. And the story told by this brilliant work is indeed worth telling." 

" . . . leaders and bureaucrats at the USCCB routinely violate that magisterial teaching, and pretend that theirs is the only permissible “Catholic” position when they choose a particular agenda item to champion." " . . . this bad habit has put the faithful in a position of delicacy, patiently and charitably reminding the bishops that they are trespassing in the realm that is the property of the laity." 

" . . . today it falls to the laity to explain the principles underlying the issues of crime and punishment, laying out the arguments to explain the principles in the light of the rich tradition of Catholic thought." " . . . the laity has a fundamental right to the truth, including when it comes to capital punishment . . . And the truth is exactly what Feser and Bessette offer in their impressive study.  . . . . they take great care in presenting a clear and rational discussion to shed the patient, clear light of reason on the issue . . .  from the point of view of the Natural Law, Church teaching, and theological and philosophical anthropology."

“Unfortunately, churchmen have in recent years not been equally respectful of the authority and duty of public officials to exercise their prudential judgment in applying Catholic social teaching when it comes to the death penalty.” 

F&B  “many Catholics today glibly assert that capital punishment is incompatible with promoting a ‘culture of life’….It is simpleminded sloganeering, not serious thinking.” "With this particular point the authors put their finger on a regrettable tendency that has become a bad habit of hierarchs when defending their opinionated agendas. The pro-life movement — led since its inception by the laity, not the hierarchy — has championed the powerful symbol of “pro-life” as an irrefutable tribute to the reality of the unborn child’s humanity. So it is distressing, but not surprising, that many peddlers of political palaver have tried to hijack the “pro-life” label and apply it to their personal political agenda, on particulars ranging from foreign aid and tax policy to immigration and “global warming.” "That rhetorical dodge  . . . smacks too much of an acquiescence to what Pope Benedict called the “Dictatorship of Relativism.” It serves only to dilute the Church’s adamant defense of life, as well as to delude the public regarding the honest use of words." 

9) Hot Air vs. Capital Punishment: A Reply to Paul Griffiths and David Bentley Hart, Dr.Edward Feser, The Catholic World Report, November 28,2017, 

"Griffiths’ review in First Things . . . is rich in condescension, high in dudgeon, and largely devoid of substantive engagement with the book’s arguments." "Hart’s review in Commonweal is so rhetorically over-the-top and dishonest that the effect is more comical than offensive"