Thursday, December 27, 2012


Florida Adjusted Total Costs
Death penalty cases $500,000
Life without parole cases $1,953, 000

 As Virginia averages 7.1 years of appeals prior to execution, there is no doubt that Florida can do it within 10 years, unless all of the obstructionists are immovable.

 Let's presume Florida can be both accountable and responsible and can complete appeals by adding a whopping 41% more time than Virginia uses.

 That will save, on average $450,000/case on incarceration time/costs (1) and likely $50,000 or more to litigation time/costs, or a total of $500,000 per case, bringing the costs of the average death penalty case to $500,000, providing 5 1/2 years for state appeals and 4 1/2 years for federal appeals.

 Only obstructionists can fail to make this work.

 That would be considerably cheaper than lifers, who will cost about $1,953,000 total, or $1,453,000 more expensive than a death penalty case.

 LWOP cost calculations.

 Lifers would spend an average of 46 years in prison, at a cost of $1,104,000 at $24,000/yr, NOT including pre trial, trial, appeals or geriatric care costs.

 Presuming average incarceration at age 28, with an average 46 yr prison stay, dying at age 74 (2), geriatric care costs likely add $41, 000/yr (2) for 19 yrs., age 55-74 (1) ($779, 000 more), with all trial and appeals costs averaging at least $70,000/case (3).

 Of course, present valuing the cases will bring the costs closer together.

 These costs do not include a cost benefit of the death penalty, which is a plea bargain to a LWOP sentence, only possible with the presence of the death penalty. Therefore, if you save all trial and appeals cost in those plea bargained LWOP cases, it shows up as a credit to the death penalty side of the ledger, even more pronounced, if you present value the costs, which, at $70,000 per LWOP case, would equate to a full credit if present valued. a significant cost reduction for death penalty cases.





1) Treasure Coast Death Row: Special report: Cost of Florida's death row easily exceeds $1M per inmate, Melissa E. Holsman, October 7, 2012 at 4:05 am

These are only three cases, but this is the only cost review that I have seen, out of Florida, that attempted to get accurate costs, per case.

"Determining how much post-conviction death row appeals cost taxpayers is nearly impossible, especially in cases spanning decades. Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers took an in-depth look at the available expenses in three cases and here’s what was found:

Sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of Frances Julia Slater in the same year in Stuart.
$711,750: Estimated cost of housing Cave on Florida’s death row for 30 years
$348,000: Verified costs of post conviction appeals, which in part includes $163,025 in appellate attorneys fees; $27,904 in state attorney’s expenses; and $61,758 in costs for experts, witnesses and investigators

Sentenced to death in 1983 for the 1982 murder of Frances Julia Slater in Fort Pierce.
$688,025: Estimated cost of housing Parker on Florida’s death row for 29 years.
$296,000: Verified costs of post conviction appeals, which in part includes $31,016 in appellate attorneys fees (Parker also has received 29 years of free legal representation from a New York law firm); $3,020 in state attorney’s expenses; and $63,977 in costs for experts, witnesses and investigators.

Executed April 12, after being sentenced to death in 1984 for the 1983 murder of Lynn Elliott in Vero Beach.
$664,300: Estimated cost of housing Gore on Florida’s death row for 28 years.
$210,000: Verified costs of post conviction appeals, which in part includes $149,489 in appellate attorneys fees; $7,442 in state attorney’s expenses; and $37,934 in costs for experts, witnesses and investigators.

(2) The Lives of Juvenile Lifers: Findings from a National Survey, p 33, March 2012, Ashley Nellis, Ph.D.

"The average cost of incarcerating a person is $22,000 annually. A life sentence that begins in one’s late teens can be expected to last at least 55 years. But with rising costs of older inmates, beginning at age 55, the annual cost is closer to $65,000."

3) The $70,000 assumes a 77% cost reduction in pre trial, trial and appeals going from a death penalty case ($300,000 average) down to $70,000 for a LWOP case.

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Dudley Sharp

The idea that some subjective definition of civilized countries or an objective description of industrialized countries matters in regard to the death penalty is nonsense.

There are a lot of nasty countries that don't have the death penalty, such as:

countries on 1 of 3 Amnesty Intl death penalty abolitionist countries lists: Yugoslavia, Algeria , Burma, Mexico, Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Uzbekistan, Croatia, Togo, Tunisia, Senegal, Nicaragua,

Some poorly industrialized and poorly civilized:

Some of the countries from the AI death penalty retentionist list: Bahamas, Barbados, United States, Belize, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Singapore, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines;

Some highly industrialized and very civilized.

So what?

Of much greater importance is that most people are good people and that it seems the majority of people in all countries support the death penalty for some crimes (1).
Why? Justice.

Folks find the death penalty just and appropriate for some crimes, the same moral foundation of support for all criminal sanctions.

Let's say I am right, that innocents are more protected with the death penalty (2). What is so civilized about countries that knowingly spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocents?

In complete disregard for the truth, some say that jurisdictions with the death penalty have higher crime rates than those without it. Such claims are absolute nonsense (3) Some do, some don't.


countries with no death penalty law: 96
countries with the death penalty: 101
source: Amnesty Intl. AI plays with the numbers, but when you weed through their nonsense, this is the reality.


1) "Death Penalty Support Remains Very High: USA & The World"

2) a) "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"

b) "Opponents in capital punishment have blood on their hands", Dennis Prager, 11/29/05,

c) "A Death Penalty Red Herring: The Inanity and Hypocrisy of Perfection", Lester Jackson Ph.D.,

d) "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"

e) "The 130 (now 141) death row "innocents" scam"

3)    a)  Regarding violence - Detailed country by country review: "Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"




"The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"

"Killing equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"

"The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Saturday, December 08, 2012


Dudley Sharp

updated 2015

Gross murder rates cannot be a valid and consistent method of measuring deterrence, for a variety of well know reasons (1).

A measurement of net changes in murders, meaning that there would be more or less net murders, based upon executions or the lack, thereof, is the proper calculation, whether or not gross murder rates, go up, down or stay the same, just as with deterrence, all crimes and all crime rates.

As many anti death penalty folks, including academics, wrongly, present some gross murder numbers as a foundation for arguing against deterrence, I present this:


Again, this is not how deterrence is measured (1), however . . . .

1. The United States has had double digit executions, annually, from 1984 - 2014 (3).

Murders are, now, at a 46 year low (2),

Murder rates are, now, at a 57 year low. (2).

It's not surprising that death sentences are at a 40 year low (3).

2. Double digit annual executions stopped in the US in 1964 and resumed in 1984 (3).

During that period, murders increased by 100%

murders in 1964 9,360 (2)

murders in 1984 18,670 (2)

3. There was a moratorium on all executions in the US from 1967 to 1977 (3).

During that period, there was a 56% increase in murders (2).

murders is 1967 were 12,240 (2)

murders in 1977 were 19,120 (2)


Capital murders may have dropped by 80% or more in Texas since 1991 (2).

Murder in combination with robberies makes up, by far, the largest percentage of death penalty eligible murders.

Murders have dropped 55%, robberies 35% (2).

A much lower occurrence of robbery/murders equals a much lower number of death sentences.

The per capita robbery/murders will have dropped even more dramatically, because Texas has seen a population explosion during this period.

Murders rates have dropped 71%, robberies 60% (2).

The drop in capital murders is but the most obvious and pronounced explanation for a drop in death sentences.

Contributions to that drop also include:

1) Plea bargains to life without parole (LWOP) , a plea only possible with the death penalty;
2) Two classes of murderers have been excluded from the death penalty, that being those under 18 and those with mental retardation; and
3) Depending upon conditions within individual jurisdictions, with a downturn in the economy, the up front costs of the death penalty may have caused some jurisdictions to offer either plea bargains or lesser than death penalty option trials, to a degree more than in the past.

and others


1) a) "Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"



NOTE:  There are some deterrence studies which find a reduction in murders, soon after executions. However, I am, primarily, dealing with murders and murder rates for any given year.

2) United States Crime Data, from FBI UCR

The Disaster Center is a convenient and reliable source for crime data

and see 1957, from

             murders    robberies
1991      2652           47900
2014      1192           31021
dif          1460           16870
less         55%            35%

              murders      robberies
1991        24,700      687,730
2014       14,164        322,905
dif           10,536        364,725      
less          43%              53%

Source: Disaster Center, from FBI UCR

3) Capital Punishment, 2013 - Statistical Tables, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Tracy Snell, Dec 2014, Table 11, page 14, and Figure 5, page 3.



99.7% of murderers tells us "Give me life, not execution"

See sections C and D within
The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives


Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims


Dudley Sharp

There is much confusion about deterrence, some, understandable and, some, intentional.

There are many examples of murder rates dropping or being lower in death penalty jurisdictions.

And many examples of murder rates dropping or being lower in non death penalty jurisdictions.

In different instances, murder/crime rates might suggest deterrence or non deterrence of sanctions.

In other words, gross murder/crime rates are not a consistent or accurate method of showing or understanding deterrence (1). There are some deterrence studies which find a reduction in murders, soon after executions.  Howevewr, I am, primarily, dealing with murders and murder rates for any given year.

Some anti death penalty folks work hard to muddy the waters - as with this study, wherein some thought the criminologists had agreed that the death penalty deters none, a finding not confirmed within the study and which cannot be confirmed, ever.

"Deterrence & the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"

Confusion and understanding, respectively, are revealed by these two questions from a death penalty opponent.

Confusion: "If the deterrence contention holds true, why does the enthusiastic application of the death penalty not suppress the overall murder rate across all death penalty states?"

Then, with understanding:

"I understand your point that the death penalty has some deterrent effect. Perhaps the citizens of South Dakota are simply more homicidal than their northern neighbors, and without the death penalty keeping them in check, the murder rate would go through the roof."

Yes, it has some deterrent effect, but it is clear he had not read the provided deterrence studies because they contradicted his comment about murder rates going through the roof.

The deterrent effect has a small impact on murder rates, but a substantial savings in innocent lives, as reviewed below.

The death penalty, as all criminal sanctions, deters some, which will be reflected in net murder/crime rates, but not gross ones, consistently, as explained: Whether murder/crime rates are high or low, whether they are rising, falling or staying, roughly, the same, all sanctions deter some, in all jurisdictions.

A perfect example of this is:

"Henderson, Nev., takes the No. 2 spot (America's Safest Cities) despite its location within the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Las Vegas-Paradise, which ranked ninth this year on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Dangerous Cities." (2)

Does this mean no potential criminals are deterred in Las Vegas-Paradise and yet some are deterred in Henderson?

Of course not. Some are deterred in both.

It means that there are different factors in each jurisdiction which provide for different crime rates, as with all jurisdictions, inclusive of the deterrent effect of criminal sanctions, within both jurisdictions.

This should come as no surprise.

Death penalty opponent response: "However, the fact that murder rates are lower across the board in non death penalty (USA) states suggests that there is something else, some more effective deterrent which you would do well to investigate, if you weren't hidebound by your single minded advocacy of the death penalty."

They are not lower across the board. Even if they were, it could not contradict the clear and accurate point.

Furthermore, anti death penalty folks neglect the obvious reality that there are a very wide range of murder/crime rates between communities/cities/counties, within each individual state, be they death penalty or not, revealing the obvious error of the opponents intended point (3).

I think everyone knows that there are multiple deterrents to committing crime: Morality, change of social status if caught, the prospect of being caught and/or sanctioned, being the four most obvious (3)

Note that the 28 recent studies, finding for deterrence (4), find for deterrence of from 1-28 murders prevented per execution. Deterrence was also found to exist just by the presence of the death penalty statute.

While this represents a substantial and very important savings of innocent lives, it has a small impact on murder rates.

The US has averaged around 33 executions per year since 1973, which equals a deterrent savings of innocents lives of from 33 to 924 per year.

My estimate is that the US has averaged about 18,000 murders per years since 1973 (5).

The deterrent effect provides a near negligible impact on the murder rate (min 0.2% to max 5%), based upon those deterrence studies, but provides a huge savings in innocent lives.

Even without those studies, most of us realize that all prospects of a negative outcome deter some. It is an unqualified truism, for which no exception exists. Some are so hidebound by their opposition to the death penalty that they must find that the death penalty, the most severe of criminal sanctions, is the ONLY criminal sanction that deters none - a truly absurd notion.

1)   a)  "Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"


2) "America's Safest Cities", Lifestyle section, Forbes, 12/15/2011,

and also

Top 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in America, NeighborhoodScout

11 have no death penalty,  4 of those are the most violent. 

3) See Sections C and D within:
The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

4) 28 recent studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

5) The Disaster Center, from FBI, UCR Reports

Related Issues:


99.7% of murderers tells us "Give me life, not execution"

Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Monday, November 26, 2012


99.7% of murderers tells us "Give me life, not execution"
Dudley Sharp

Do potential murderers prefer life over death and fear death more than life?

Of course, just as we all do.

Since 1973, there have been about 50,000 murderers (1) who may have qualified for the death penalty, based upon post Furman laws.

As of 2012, only 0.3% of those "volunteered" for execution, by waiving their appeals, and were executed.

 The rest, 99.7%, have fought for life and against the death penalty/execution, using plea bargains, trials, appeals and commutation, in any fashion possible to avoid death.

No surprise. Death is feared more than life. Life is preferred over death, not just with murderers, but with all of us, save for the determined suicidal.

That's a fact based review of which sanction murderers find to be more severe and is just one example of why executions are found to deter more than life (2).

Would a more reasoned group, potential murderers who chose not to murder, also, overwhelmingly fear death more than life? Of course, just as we all do.

I don't think it even arguable, that had those 0.3% "volunteers" been given the option of life over death, that they would have chosen life.

I am aware of only 1 murderer, in the modern death penalty era, who pled guilty, sought the death penalty and then, after receiving it, waived appeals.

Arguably, then, 99.99% prefer life over death and fear death more than life.

That which we fear the most, deters the most.


1) a) As of 2012, there have been about 8300 sent to death row since 1973. Of those, about 140, or 1.7%, have "volunteered" for execution. So far, 98.3% of those sent to death row prefer life over execution.

b) Only about 1/3 of all death penalty cases that go to trial end with a death sentence; 2/3 of the defendants received sentences less than death, as they wanted. (Source: Just Revenge: Costs and Consequences of the Death Penalty, by Mark Costanzo)  Total, that is about 25, 200 cases.

c) Even more death penalty eligible cases, an additional 24,800 or so, are otherwise, given sentences less than death, as they wished.

 Of the 50,000 eligible cases, only about 140 "volunteered" for execution.

 99.7% chose life.

NOTE: I estimate that about 10% of all murders (that being 700,000, post Furman, 1973-2012) are death penalty eligible, or about 70,000 murders. I reduced that to 50,000 murderers, based upon some cases of multiple capital murders per murderer.

Some estimate the percentage of capital murders to be as high as 15-20%, as a percentage of all murders., which would mean it much less likely they prefer death over life, than my review shows.

(2)   See sections C and D within
The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives



The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter?

Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Forgiveness and murder

compiled and written by Dudley Sharp

 As Mary, from the blog, Broken Alabaster, writes:

"(Mary) was aware of the souls who would not receive her son's (Jesus') grace. She had the spiritual awareness of knowing that for some her son's death would be in vain. This caused her great grief - as it did Christ." (1)

Exactly, some did not receive her Son's grace. Why?

Because forgiveness has some requirements. It is not automatic. Nor should it be. If forgiveness was automatic, there would have been no need for Christ.

Please review:

Who gives forgiveness for murder?, Dudley Sharp
July 10, 2007 - Victoria Advocate

Cornelus Garza told the murderer of his wife, Janie Elizabeth, "I don't forgive you"("You should be locked up forever," July 07, 2007, Victoria Advocate).

Even if he wanted to forgive the murderer, does he have that right?

It is not up to Mr. Garza to forgive the murderer. It is up to the principal party harmed - Janie Elizabeth.

No one disputes that all of those who loved and knew Janie Elizabeth were terribly wronged and hurt, severely, by her murder.

If my uncle was robbed, what does it mean for me to forgive the robber? If anything, it is an insult to the harm my uncle has suffered.

The act of forgiveness is quite unique.

If we go by biblical instruction, it includes that the wrongdoer confess his wrong, find honest sorrow and remorse and state that he will do all he can to not harm again - to change his ways, prior to any forgiveness being given, by the specific party harmed.

To forgive those who have not repented is to give approval of what they have done, while rejecting the importance of responsibility and atonement. It would not be mercy, but insult.

Murder is unique, both biblically and humanistically.

Biblically, the crime of murder is viewed as, exactly, a crime against God, because man is made in the image of God. It is an eternal crime. Murderers can take responsibility for their crimes, they can work to change, but there can be no atonement for murder.

Humanistically, meaning, with no expectation of a godhead or afterlife, it is only this earthly life that we have, so murder curtails an even greater portion of our lives.

Can murderers be forgiven by God? Biblically, the answer is clearly yes. Can murderers receive true forgiveness on earth? The answer is clearly no.

Please read, below.

"The Sin of Forgiveness",  Dennis Prager

"Forgiveness Comes Cheap", Pamela Fitzsimmons

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Refutation of the ELCA Social Statement on The Death Penalty

A Refutation of the ELCA Social Statement on The Death Penalty

By Kenneth Lohr

The statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on The Death Penalty is a confusing document. It says that its teaching authority is not coercive and that the moral deliberation on the death penalty is not finished; yet it commits the ELCA to work for the abolition of the death penalty. It claims to affirm the Lutheran Confessions1 and then proceeds to negate them. In my analysis of the statement, I begin with the Confessions.

The Augsburg Confession states:

It is taught among us that all government in the world and all established rule and laws were instituted and ordained by God for the sake of good order, and that Christians may without sin occupy civil offices or serve as princes and judges, render decisions and pass sentence according to imperial and other existing laws, punish evildoers with the sword. . . . (XVI.1-2).2

The Apology further explains:

[T]he Gospel does not introduce laws concerning the civil state, but is the remission of sins and the beginning of a new life in the hearts of believers. . . . [P]rivate redress is prohibited
not by advice, but by a command. Public redress, which is made through the office of the magistrate, is not advised against but is commanded, and is a work of God according to Paul3 (XVI.58, 59).4

The Large Catechism also states:

[N]either God nor the government are included in this [fifth] commandment.5 Nor are they deprived in this commandment of their right to take human life. For God has delegated his authority to punish evildoers to the civil government. . . . Therefore what is forbidden here applies not to governments but to private individuals. . . . [T]he hangman does not sin against God’s commandment because God himself instituted that office (I.180-181, 274).6

The Formula of Concord places under a list of “intolerable articles in the body politic” the following “errors of the Anabaptists”:

That as occasion arises no Christian, without violating his conscience, may use an office of the government against wicked people, and that subjects may not call upon the government to use the power that it possesses and that it has received from God for their protection and defense. . . . That in the New Testament the government cannot with a clear conscience inflict capital punishment upon criminals (Epitome XII.14,16).7

The last two condemnations are reiterated elsewhere (Solid Declaration XII.19,21).8 Furthermore, in Romans 13, Paul states that the civil authority is the ordinance of God, and that in bearing the sword the civil ruler is “the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer” (v. 4).9

Retribution Negated

The social statement declares that members of the ELCA continue their deliberation, “upholding together the authority of Scripture, Creeds, and Confessions” (p. 2).10 Then under “An Affirmation,” it again refers to “Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions,” but what follows is anything but an affirmation. Rather, it attempts to show that capital punishment is objectionable, and offers the fact that it is retributive as a reason why Christians should object to it: “Capital punishment focuses on retribution, sometimes reflecting a spirit of vengeance. . . . The death penalty exacts and symbolizes the ultimate personal retribution” (p. 3). Here the social statement negates the biblical and confessional position that retribution by the state is ordained by God.

The argument preceding the previous quotation must be examined. It claims that,
Renewed by the Gospel, Christians, as salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13) and light of the world (5:14), are called to respond to violent crime in the restorative way taught by Jesus (5:38-39) and shown by his actions (John 8:3-11) [p. 2].

I note from Matthew 5:38-39 that, although striking someone on the cheek may technically qualify as a violent crime, it is certainly not the clearest of examples. The illustrations that follow (5:40-42) are not violent crimes, nor is adultery (John 8:3-11). The phrase quoted in Matthew 5:38—“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” 11 —denotes a principle of the Law of Moses. In Matthew it is not an illustration of actual maiming. “Do not resist one who is evil” would indeed be an unwise counsel if the evil included life-threatening crimes. My contention is that Jesus presumed the validity and propriety of civil punishments to bind the evildoer’s hands, and that this is precisely the reason why he condemned personal retribution. (For instance, Luke 23:39-43 implies that civil punishment is morally sound: Jesus voices no protest to the criminal’s statement, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.”)

Two Kingdoms Improperly Distinguished

The section of the social statement under discussion begins by making a distinction between the Law and the Gospel. The concept of “Gospel” is developed, but the concept of “Law” is apparently transformed into “restorative justice,” which has little to do with the Law. What is really meant by this term is restorative righteousness, or charity, which pertains to the Gospel. The word “justice” when applied to civil law means “the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.”12 The social statement has failed to distinguish between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth. The Apology addresses this very mistake:

How poor the judgment of many writers in these matters has been is evident from their erroneous view that the Gospel is something external, a new and monastic form of government. Thus they failed to see that the Gospel brings eternal righteousness to hearts, while it approves the civil government (XVI.8).13

Such poor judgment in the social statement becomes apparent in the following:
It is because of this church’s ministry with and to people affected by violent crime that we oppose the death penalty. Executions focus on the convicted murderer, providing very little for the victim’s family or anyone else whose life has been touched by the crime (p. 3).

This is mere caviling. It’s not reasonable to condemn something because it fails to accomplish some end that is irrelevant to its purpose. It’s not the purpose of the death penalty (or any punishment) to address the hurt of victims of violent crime or of their families. This silly objection rises out the previous application of an inapposite sense of “justice.”

Root Causes vis-à-vis Contributing Conditions

Another example of a crafty, manipulative use of ambiguous words is this remark: “Lutheran Christians have called for an assault on the root causes of violent crime, an assault for which executions are no substitute” (p. 3). Checking the supporting quotations in the footnote, one finds that the statement is not an accurate paraphrase. The LCA document14 speaks of “social conditions which breed hostility toward society and disrespect for the law.” The ALC document15 speaks of “conditions which contribute to crime.” The term “root cause” has a far different connotation than merely a contributing condition.

The social statement’s deviations from the Lutheran Confessions up to this point are located in matters pertaining primarily to civil punishment. The previous quotation, however, is an implicit deviation from central Christian doctrines, and as such warrants the designation “heresy.” The root cause of violent crime is the same as that of all sin: it is in human nature. There are two important aspects of this nature, one of which is freedom:
It is also taught among us that man possesses some measure of freedom of the will which enables him to live an outwardly honorable life and to make choices among the things that reason comprehends. . . . On the other hand, by his own choice man can also undertake evil, as when he wills to kneel before an idol, commit murder, etc.” (Augsburg Confession XVIII.1,7).16

The other aspect of human nature is our disposition toward evil, which theology calls original sin:

It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men . . . are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs. . . . (Augsburg Confession II.1).17

Human beings have the inclination toward evil, but they also have the freedom and capability of restraint in the outward matters of life. Moreover, the need for such restraint is easily grasped by human reason. Hence, in the Christian view, the single factor that may be considered the preeminent cause of violent crime is the individual’s own conscious decision—barring, of course, instances of insanity or diminished mental capacity.

The social statement, in calling social conditions the root causes of crime, suggests that violent criminal behavior is essentially the result of external conditions. Thus it implicitly denies both human freedom and the natural human disposition toward evil, which exists independently of any negative external stimulus. If its use of the term “root cause” does not seem to be sufficient grounds for this charge, then one should note that the statement goes on to say that executions “are no substitute” for an assault on the causes of crime. The implication is that the threat of punishment is completely ineffective in influencing human behavior. This also implies that people are somehow compelled to acts of violence by external forces. But it is not reasonable to hold that human beings have an inherent disposition toward evil and the freedom to act accordingly, yet maintain that these aspects of human nature play no significant role in acts of violence. Conversely, there is no logical reason to suggest that violent crime is fundamentally the result of external causes, but that less egregious evils are not the results of such cases. Hence, if one believes that violence at the individual level is caused by external conditions, the only reasonable next step is to deny human freedom and original sin. If human beings are without original sin, then they have little need of Christ for righteousness’ sake. If they do not have some measure of freedom, then both sin and righteousness are meaningless.

It should be said that social conditions do contribute to violence. Violent crime is not exclusively the failure of the individual, although it ultimately is. There are social factors that supply motives for crime. But, a motive, under the law, is not an excuse but a consideration that indicates the degree of a person’s guilt. Nevertheless, Christians in a democracy may and should strive toward correcting social conditions that foster crime.

Determinism and Innate Goodness

The social statement calls for a moral deliberation on this subject, “informed by reason and knowledge, including the social sciences” (p. 5). Here a note of caution is needed: the idea of the freedom of the human will is not necessarily a guiding principle of the social sciences. The philosophy of determinism maintains that all human behavior is the result of genetic and environmental causes, and that freedom of the will is an illusion. Determinism is popular in all quarters since it absolves human beings from all wrongdoing, real or imagined, but it is especially common among scholars of the human sciences. Thus, what is to the Christian mind a contributing factor is often to the sociologist a cause (that is, a determinant).

Likewise, the idea that humans are naturally inclined toward evil is not universally accepted. Even where some measure of freedom is acknowledged, many observers believe that people are innately good. Thus criminal behavior is seen as abnormal, and so must have an external or abnormal physiological cause. These facts must be borne in mind by the Christian. It is important to ascertain the researcher’s bias and read his or her work critically. Christians must remember that while we can improve society, we cannot improve human nature. Even an ideal society would always have need of punishment.

Impartiality or Unfairness

So far, I have considered the social statement’s departure from the Lutheran Confessions. Now I shall critique it on the basis of reason. There is a faulty argument in the following: “. . . the death penalty has not been and cannot be made fair. The race of the victim plays a role in who is sentenced to death and who is sentenced to life imprisonment. . . .” (p. 4).

If one assumes, for the sake of argument, that death is an appropriate punishment for murder, then a person who commits murder and is sentenced to death has received a just punishment. The fact that another murderer receives a somewhat more lenient sentence is not an injustice to the person receiving the death sentence. The study cited in the social statement may demonstrate that courts have not been impartial in their sentencing, but this lack of impartiality (unfairness) in people is irrelevant to the legitimacy of the death penalty. One might explain this point by using an analogy. Employers are required by law, and rightly so, to be impartial with respect to race, sex, etc., in their hiring practices. Now if it were proved that employers were practicing flagrant discrimination in their hiring, one could not infer from this fact that employment is unfair and should be abolished. The maxim—“Misuse does not destroy the substance, but confirms its existence”—may be applied here (cf. Large Catechism IV.59).18 There is another observation that should be made in comparing employment and punishment: applicants for employment are competing against one another for a limited number of openings. If favoritism is involved in hiring, then the winners of the competition may not truly deserve to win; consequently, the losers may not deserve to lose. But there is no similarity here with civil punishment. Those accused of crimes are not competing against each other for a limited quantity of punishment or mercy. Thus the fact that one criminal receives undue leniency has no bearing whatsoever on the justice of another criminal’s sentence. The social statement’s argument that discrepancies in sentencing are an injustice cannot be confined to its present application. If the death penalty is unjust because some of its candidates are sentenced only to life imprisonment without parole, then life without parole is unjust because some of its candidates receive an even lesser sentence, and so on.

Retribution and Necessity

Many of the social statement’s other objections to the death penalty are also irrelevant. The most important is that capital punishment is retribution. All punishments repay evil for evil. In fact, most punishments are acts that might otherwise be considered immoral. Killing, if it is not a punishment by the state, is murder. Fines are akin to extortion, seizure of property, theft; and imprisonment, kidnaping. Moreover, life imprisonment is a permanent revocation of freedom.

If one denounces retribution, what logical reason is there to claim that imposing such a penalty as life imprisonment is not immoral? The answer commonly proposed today is that evil is justified when it is necessary; and imprisonment is necessary, whereas death generally is not. This view is implicit in the social statement’s comment, “God entrusts the state with power to take human life when failure to do so constitutes a clear danger to society” (p. 2), that is, only when it is necessary for the safety of society, which is seldom or never. Although this moralization seems reasonable at first glance, it is nearly useless in justifying civil punishment. The fact that a person has committed a crime does not indicate with certainty that he or she will do it again. A crime committed in the past poses no threat to society in the present. Therefore, if the punishment of any particular person must be necessary for the safety of society, that person must clearly be a habitual criminal. The idea that evil is justified when it is necessary is thus impracticable as a general moral guideline.

The social statement ignores Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and reason in favor of the current popular philosophy. The statement—“God entrusts the state with power to take human life when failure to do so constitutes a clear danger to society”—amends the commandment of God. Thus it teaches as doctrine the precepts of human beings, but it is the nature of the amendment that is truly dangerous. It substitutes necessity for retribution as the justification for evil. The condemnation of retribution condemns nearly every civil penalty, and it implies that the imposition of punishment negates social moral standards. Consider the following statements: “Executions harm society by mirroring and reinforcing existing injustice” (p. 3); and, “The practice of the death penalty undermines any possible moral message we might want to ‘send’” (p. 4).

The suggestion here is that the death penalty is the state’s implicit endorsement of murder. Though this suggestion is half-baked, it is nevertheless widely received in today’s intellectual climate. Moreover, this argument is inapplicable. It follows that imprisonment is the state’s implicit endorsement of kidnaping; seizure of property, of theft; and fines, of extortion. The former LCA called for “a massive assault on those social conditions which breed hostility toward society and disrespect for the law.” Such an assault must begin by publicly condemning the ELCA statement on the death penalty.

To summarize, the social statement is crafty, illogical, implicitly heretical, and undermining to civil government. It should be rescinded, and the procedure for developing social statements revised. The fact that these documents are not coercive in their teaching authority should not be a license for them to contradict the Lutheran Confessions.


1 The “Lutheran Confessions,” i.e., the Book of Concord, published 1580. Cf. the Model Constitution for Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, sections C2.05 and C2.06.

2 Theodore G. Tappert et al., trans., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), p. 37.

3 Friedrich Bente et al., trans., Triglot Concordia: The Symbolic Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, German-Latin-English (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921).

4 Sections 6 and 7 in Tappert.

5 The fifth (or sixth) commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

6 F. Samuel Janzow, trans., Luther’s Large Catechism: A Contemporary Translation with Study Questions (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978), pp. 41, 56.

7 Tappert, p. 499.

8 Ibid., p. 634.

9 Cf. I Peter 2:13-14.

10 A Social Statement on the Death Penalty (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1991). (accessed 23 Sept. 2012). Page numbers cited refer to the first printing of the social statement (or PDF format).

11 Ex. 21:23-25; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21.

12 Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1987).

13 Tappert, p. 223.

14 Capital Punishment (Lutheran Church in America, 1966).

15 Capital Punishment (American Lutheran Church, 1972).

16 Tappert, pp. 39, 40.

17 Ibid., p. 29.

18 Ibid., p. 444.
Further Recommended Reading
Andreski, Stanislav. Social Sciences as Sorcery. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973.
Lewis, C.S. “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment.” God in the Dock, ed. Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids, Mich.

Eerdmans Publishing, 1970: 287-300. Posted at:


© 1999, 2012 by Kenneth Lohr. This article was first published in Lutheran Forum 32, No. 4 (Wint. 1998), pp. 29-31. Reprinted at prodpinnc by permission of the author.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Death Penalty Costs: California

Responses to

1) An Absurd California Death Penalty Cost Review: A Rebuttal to "Cut This: The Death Penalty"(1)


2) The Paula Mitchell/Judge Arthur L. Alarcón study: Death Penalty vs Life Costs in California

By Dudley Sharp

1) An Absurd California Death Penalty Cost Review: A Rebuttal to "Cut This: The Death Penalty"(1)

REVISED 2/27/13

NOTE: Clark is a Calif. ACLU activist and The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice's (CCFAJ) is a Calif. government commission.

Clark's/CCFAJ's cost review is wildly inaccurate and misleading. I doubt that there is any more veracity to the death row costs than there is with their lifer cost evaluations.

Meaning -  zero.

None of Clark/CCFAJ's numbers can be relied upon.

Clark/CCFAJ says: "In total, California's death penalty system costs taxpayers $137 million per year. Contrast that with just $11 million per year if we replace the death penalty with permanent imprisonment." (1, b)

For those 724 inmates, that is:

death penalty costs: $137 million per year or about $189,000//inmate/yr.  (1,b)

life imprisonment costs: $11 million/year or $15,000/inmate/yr. (1,b)

It is complete, utter nonsense.

Some reality:

The last full California audit (Sept 2009) found the average costs, 2007-2008, per adult inmate was $49,000/inmate/yr. (2) In 1997, it was $25,000/inmate/yr. (3).

NOTE: In 10 years (1997-2008) the cost/inmate rose nearly 100%. If that escalation of costs continued, the average cost would be an average of $65,000/inmate/yr by year end 2012, for the average adult inmate, not increased security cells and not including additional medical/geriatric care.

This $49,000/inmate/yr is the average for all inmates, not the level IV security of death row inmate like criminals that will cost more, if not much more.

For higher security inmates, which would include those transferred from death row,  the costs range from $71,000 - $172,000/inmate/yr. (4)

Clark/CCFAJ is stating that these enhanced security prisoners will cost $15,000/inmate/yr., or $34,000/inmate/yr LESS than the average cost for all Ca inmates.

Clark/CCFAJ's lack of credibility is at an astounding low level - zero.

Clark/CCFAJ's analysis is laughable.

Former (Calif.) State Finance Director Says Prop 34’s Cost Savings Claims “Flawed & Incorrect”:

"It is even possible that (death penalty repeal Proposition) 34 will increase costs, in addition to endangering the public. It is not worth the gamble." (5)

 Clark/CCFAJ get even worse.

Without the death penalty, Clark/CCFAJ's select group of former death row murderers would likely be in level IV security and, as lifers, would die as geriatric prisoners or from earlier illness, likely costing on average $80,000-$100,000/inmate/yr., or more, with a rare few costing a $1 million or more per year with illness and/or geriatric stages.

Geriatric problems often begins at age 50 for inmates.

NOTE: The California Medical Facility for corrections averages $83,000/inmate/yr. (6). There, likely, would be additonal costs when dealing with Level IV security prisoners.

But, for Clark/CCFAJ, former death row inmates, now lifers, cost $15,000/inmate/yr.

Clark/CCFAJ get even worse.

Clark/CCFAJ will admit, if prodded (7) that "the figure of $137 million estimates the entire cost of the death penalty system, not simply housing, but also inclusive of all post-conviction costs, including legal appeals."

In other words, Clark/CCFAJ is admitting escalating the death penalty costs over the alleged cost comparisons of incarceration between lifers and death row. Not at all surprising Clark/CCFAJ excludes such from the lifer costs.

The Clark/CCFAJ's cost comparisons/evaluations are a very bad joke. Instead of making an honest apples to apples cost comparison, Clark/CCFAJ brings us a bad apples to newest Rolls Royce cost comparison, as if it were apples to apples.

Because so many of these cost comparisons are so pathetically unreliable, California considered that an objective assessment by RAND should be considered (8). The basis for a proper evaluation was presented, but Ca rejected doing the study, because . . . it was too expensive!

CONCLUSION - Save even more money?

There is no need for California to have a death row. Current death row prisoners can be placed in Level IV security cells, or lower/higher levels, depending upon evaluations, just as Missouri and Kansas do.

California can make their death sentenced inmates cheaper than their lifers, if they properly manage their citizens money, as Virginia does. California must only have the will to be responsible stewards of their citizens resources - something that seems to elude California lawmakers, just as basic, accurate evaluations evade Clark/CCFAJ.

NOTE:  Virginia executes, on average, within 7.1 years and has executed 108 of those so sentenced, since 1976, or 72% of those so sentenced, a protocol that would, on average, be less expensive than comparable LWOP cases. 

Update: On 10/1/2015, Virginia executed a serial rapist/murderer. Through full appeals, it took 5 years from sentencing to execution.

With responsible judges, as in Virginia, California would have about 100 inmates on death row, not 750.

Today, there is no reason for Ca death row to cost more than level IV security and a proper evaluation would likely show death row cheaper or no more expensive than Level IV.

There may be no cost savings in getting rid of death row, with the exception that, if Calif had a responsible death penalty protocol, there would be many more executed murderers, thus reducing incarceration costs on death row, saving money on incarcerations costs over other level IV prisoners.


2) The Paula Mitchell/Judge Arthur L. Alarcón study: Death Penalty vs Life Costs in California (9)

Mitchell/Alarcón have made their study highly suspect by their refusal to share their database, which we can presume is unreliable, otherwise they would be happy to share it.

BUT . . . they confirm, up front, that it is unreliable.

"As the (CCFAJ) concluded in the Final Report, “[I]t is impossible to ascertain the precise costs of the administration of California’s death penalty law at this time. But the choices that California faces require some comparison of projected costs; for this purpose, rough estimates will have to do.” FINAL REPORT, supra note 4, at 144 (emphasis added)." (10)

It's absolutely certain that the CCFAJ is horrible, as detailed, above. Therefore, we know the Mitchell/Alarcon study is even worse.


Rough estimates find that life without parole may cost more in California than the death penalty.

If the Paula Mitchell/Judge Arthur L. Alarcón study is accurate (and they tell you it's not, above --  "impossible" "projected" "rough estimates") and the death penalty has cost California $4 billion since 1977 and there have been 2700 death penalty trials, that would mean, on average, the cases cost $1.5 million/case, for pre trial, trial, appeals, incarceration and executions.

Approximately 900 have been sent to death row and about 2/3 of all death penalty trials end with a sentence less than death, therefore 2700 death penalty trials.

Credit death penalty

If we calculated the cost savings by having the death penalty, of a plea bargain to LWOP, only possible with the death penalty, such would be the cost of trial and appeals of a LWOP case, deducted as a cost credit  to the death penalty side of the ledger and such would result in a lesser net cost per death penalty case.

This would reduce the average cost of a death penalty case by approximately $100,000, which I consider a wildy low estimate.

Increasing costs - death penalty

The 2/3 of cases that do not receive the death penalty, in a death penalty trial, will still have appeals, but, most likely, not as extensive as cases receiving the death penalty. If these cases were given LWOP, then the appeals, incarceration and geriatric care costs will transferred to the LWOP side of the ledger.

Necessarily, that would increase the average cost of the remaining 900 cases that were sentenced to death, by approximately $600,000 added cost per death penalty case for additional appeals, likely a high estimate.

Combined, this would increase the average cost of a death penalty case by $500,000.

Including those two cost consideration, the average death penalty case might be around $2 million

(adding  $600,000 in additional appellate costs and subtracting $100,000 for the LWOP plea, adding, on average, $500,000/case for the 900 cases that received the death penalty.)

LWOP costs:

It seems that the incarceration costs will be considerably higher than pro Prop 34 folks have told us, with costs spiraling, hugely, with geriatric care.

If California ends the death penalty, all death row prisoners who would become LWOP inmates, and based upon my review, above, it will cost around $75,000/yr/inmate, on average, or about $3,000,000 total/inmate, for 40 years, a figure which does not include pre trial, trial, appeals, geriatric care or inflation.

Including those additional four cost considerations, the average LWOP case would be approximately $3.75 million........

As Prop 34 is stating that LWOP will replace the death penalty, there is no credit for plea bargains, because the Prop 34 folks are anticipating that those previously subject to the death penalty will receive LWOP.

Obviously, anything short of LWOP will negate many of claims from the pro Prop 34 folks.

It is hard to see where any cost savings may be if Ca ends the death penalty. As the former California Finace Director found, it may even increase cost - possibly by a considerable margin.

And of course, we do have a foundation of  “It is impossible to ascertain the precise costs of the administration of California’s death penalty law at this time. But the choices that California faces require some comparison of projected costs; for this purpose, rough estimates will have to do.”

To be more precise, both the CCFAJ and  The Paula Mitchell/Judge Arthur L. Alarcón studies are full of it.




(1)   (a)  An article by James Clark, field organizer, ACLU of Southern California.


(2) California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: It Fails to Track and Use Data That Would Allow It to More Effectively Monitor and Manage Its Operations, September 2009 Report 2009-107.1, California State Auditor, pg 77, fiscal year 2007-2008,

(3) Ibid,

(4) Pelican Bay, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

(5) Fiscal expert debunks cost savings argument of Prop 34

(6) California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: It Fails to Track and Use Data That Would Allow It to More Effectively Monitor and Manage Its Operations, September 2009 Report 2009-107.1, California State Auditor, page 80, fiscal year 2007-2008,

(7) Cut This: The Death Penalty, June 28, 2010

(8) "Investigating the Costs of the Death Penalty in California: Insights for Future Data Collection in California, RAND Corp., 2/2008

(9) Executing the Will of the Voters?: A Roadmap to Mend or End the California Legislature’s Multi-Billion Dollar Death Penalty Debacle, 44 LOY. L.A. L. REV. S41 (2011),

(10) Ibid, footnote 38, page S62

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims

Friday, July 20, 2012


Dudley Sharp

My comments entered as "Sharp:".

Sharp: The census estimates for 2012 are: 63% white, 16.9% Hispanic and 13% black. Which presents about a 5:1 ratio of white to black by population, similar to ratios for quite sometime.  source:

1)  Blume, John H.; Eisenberg, Theodore; and Wells, Martin T., "Explaining Death Row's Population and Racial Composition" (2004), Cornell Law Faculty Publications

" . . . based on the number of murders, African Americans are sentenced to death at lower rates than whites."

" . . . African Americans commit more than 50 percent of the country's murders yet they comprise 40 percent of death row. Furthermore, the excess of the African-American percentage of murderers over the African-American percentage of death row is greatest where the conventional wisdom would least expect it - in the South."

"How can African-American underrepresentation on death row be reconciled with the well-documented racial effects in capital cases? One racial effect, disproportionate presence of minorities on death row, is an artifact of using the general population, rather than the murderer population, as the basis for comparison. If the focus is on the operation of the capital punishment system, the population of murderers is an arguably more appropriate starting point."

Sharp: It is the only starting point. Any claim of racism based upon a correlation of racial/ethnic population counts to death row population is a common and intended deception by death penalty opponents. Population of murderers, more correctly, capital murderers, is the only relevant count.

"The white defendant-black victim category is too small a portion of murders to materially influence the size of death row."  SEE  8) "Black on white" crime vs "white on black" crime, below.

"If, however, black defendant-white victim murders increase black representation on death row, and the bottom line is underrepresentation of blacks on death row, some race of defendant-race of victim combination must decrease it. The strongest candidate is the black defendant-black victim combination due to the evidence of prosecutorial reluctance to seek death in "black on black" cases."

Sharp: Blume, et al, simply missed the data, here. Any death row population "imbalance" is based upon the fact that black on black murders are less likely to be a capital murder than are black on white murders. That is the explanation. It is not prosecutorial reluctance, but legal application.

"Texas sentences murderers to death at a rate below the national mean."


From 1977-2012, white death row murderers have been executed at a rate 41% higher than are black death row murderers, 19.3% vs 13.7%, respectively. ( Table 12, Executions and other dispositions of inmates sentenced to death, by race and Hispanic origin, 1977–2012, Capital Punishment 2012, Bureau of Justice Statistics, last edited 11/3/14)


2) "Death Penalty Sentencing: No Systemic Bias"

"After accounting for some of the many factors that may influence penalty decisions, neither race of the defendant nor race of the victim appreciably improved prediction of who was sentenced to death . . . ".

" . . . legal variables, such as prior criminal history and the aggravated nature of the murder, are the proven basis for imposition of the death penalty. The black/white variation in sentencing has generally been reduced to zero when such legal variables are introduced as controls."

"There is no race of the offender / victim effect at either the decision to advance a case to penalty hearing or the decision to sentence a defendant to death given a penalty hearing."

"There is no sustained, statistically significant evidence that white victim cases are more likely than minority victim cases to result in imposition of the death penalty." 

"As blacks represent 47% of murderers and whites 37%, we see that whites are twice as likely to be executed for committing murder as are their black counterparts."

3) "The Death Penalty and Racism The Times Have Changed", Washington Post reporter Charles Lane, The American Interest, Nov/Dec 2010,

"It would be naïve to suggest that racism has been eliminated in the United States; but it would be equally mistaken to suggest that nothing has changed. To the extent that death penalty foes do the latter, they are misinterpreting the data and misleading public opinion."


"After adjusting for relevant case characteristics, so as to compare apples to apples, there is no difference between the death sentence rates of black and white offenders, beyond the inevitable level of statistical “noise” inherent in such studies. “In sum, we have found no evidence that the race of the defendant matters in the processing of capital cases in the state."


Race of the victim

Could it be that whites are, overwhelmingly, the victims in death row cases because whites are, overwhelmingly, the victims in capital crimes?

What is the ratio of white to black victims under the relevant, but non-homicide circumstances, which, when combined with homicide, become capital crimes? 

(A) The most relevant economic violent crime is robbery with injury, which shows a 4:1 ratio of white victims to black victims (C.5);

(B) By a 5:1 ratio, whites are more likely to be victims of rape/sexual assault than are blacks (BJS, 1977-1984);

(C) For all property crimes (theft, burglary, auto theft), there is a 7:1 ratio of white to black victims ("Sourcebook, 1994," BJS 1995, tables 3.21,3.25);

(D) A comparison of only black and white perpetrators and victims reveal that whites are five times more likely to be the victims of violent crime than are blacks, or 7.5 v 1.5 million, a 5:1 ratio ("Criminal Victimization, 1993" BJS 1995);

and, for homicides, which by themselves, qualify for the death penalty:

(E) In death penalty states, police victim murders are capital crimes. From 1985-1994, 87% of murdered officers were white, 12% black, or 7:1 (Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, FBI:UCR, 1994);

(F) Whites make up a dominant percentage of multiple/serial murderers, whose victims are overwhelmingly white, thereby disproportionately and correctly raising the number of  white victims in execution cases. In such death row cases, 87% of the victims are white, 13% black, or 7:1 (NAACP LDF data, 1996);

(G) Many death row cases involve stranger/victim murders. There is a 7:1 ratio of white to black strangers (US Census, avg. 1970-80-90); and

(H) Research and appellate courts (through McCleskey) have confirmed that white victim murders are the most aggravated, thus, by statute, enhancing the likelihood of a death sentence in those cases (C. 1-5 & 9-12). These factors, and others within this section, are consistent with the 6:1 ratio of white to black victims in capital cases.

But, wait, don’t blacks and whites represent about an equal number of murder victims? Yes, but, make no mistake, murder victims and capital murder victims are two very distinct groups. And only capital murders are relevant to death penalty cases.

Capital crimes are very unique, combining murder with specific circumstance, such as subsets A-H. IF homicide rates are statistically consistent within subsets A-D, as McCleskey and additional studies indicate (C. 1-5 & 9-12), then it is subsets A-H, with additional required factors such as the murderer’s criminal history, capital procedures (see F), capital statutes, crime statistics, aggravating factors and other specific facts of the case (hereinafter McCleskey et al), which result in the distribution of victims in these cases.

(I) Why are black on white murders more numerous on death row than white on black murders?

With the crimes of  robbery with injury, blacks are 21 times more likely to be involved in such crimes as are whites. This 21:1 ratio represents 1.4 million black offender(s)/white victim vs. 68,000 white offender(s)/black victim for robbery with injury crimes (Sharp, using BJS, 1977-84 data).

Statistically, there will be an equal ratio  of those injured who will die, meaning the same ration, 21:1, will represent the most common capital murder, robbery/murders.

The more severe injuries will result in death, regardless of racial characteristics of offenders or victims.This is a huge data base, likely to be more accurate and representative. 

"The white defendant-black victim category is too small a portion of murders to materially influence the size of death row." from section 1, above.



"The most vile strategy of death penalty opponents is their use of propaganda to nurture hatreds and mistrust between race and class."

"Bryan Stevenson, a well known opposition spokesman and attorney with Equal Justice Initiative, claims that the death penalty reflects the middle class’ desire to strike out at the poor and racial minorities. Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) joins this hideous chorus, proclaiming that "(m)iddle-class and upper middle-class white people...are so much for the death penalty (to) ‘Keep those dangerous people (the poor and minorities) in their place.’ "

Sharp: Simply foul claims with nothing to back them up. Folks support the death penalty for the same reasons they support all sanctions - justice, a sanction commensurate with the harm of the crime. Gallup polling showed 81% support for the execution of mass murderer Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. Support was consistent through all racial and economic groups.


6) McCleskey v Kemp, the infamous race based death penalty case decided by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

Sharp:  The US Supreme Court misunderstood the math involved. They ignorantly wrote: "defendants charged with killing white victims were 4.3 times as likely to receive a death sentence as defendants charged with killing blacks."

Totally inaccurate. It was by odds of 4.3 times, or an odds multiplier of 4.3, which can mean  a difference as low as 2-4%, as opposed to the 330% difference represented by 4.3 times. SCOTUS blew it big time on this.

Furthermore, the database, which, allegedly supported McCleskey's charge of racism, did no such thing and was, completely, unreliable.

"The best models which (David) Baldus was able to devise (within McCleskey v Georgia (Kemp)) which account toany significant degree for the major non-racial variables, including strength of the evidence, produce no statistically significant evidence that race plays a part in either [the prosecutor’s or the jury’s] decisions in the State of Georgia." (1)

"After a thorough review, Judge Forrester concluded that “the (Baldus) data base has substantial flaws and . . . petitioner has failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that it is essentially trustworthy." (1)

" ... Baldus et al. failed to prove (and the State’s experts succeeded in rebutting) the basic claims made in the Baldus study.45 They did not just fail; they failed dismally. The Baldus study lay in shreds when Judge Forrester got through with it." (1)

 "The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, sitting en banc, commended the district court “for its outstanding endeavor” in analyzing the validity of the Baldus study, and there is little doubt that a review of the factual finding that the study was invalid would have been affirmed under the applicable “clearly erroneous” standard." (1)

Read Federal District Court Judge Forrester's full rejection of Baldus' database for McCleskey.

A even more thorough review is provided by Joseph Katz, who did the methodological review of the Baldus database, which was rife with errors and problems. I have it, if you care to research.

Based upon experience, most, if not all law schools, wrongly confirm the Baldus database.

 These two articles, below, give a good explanation of some core problem with David Baldus, in the McCleskey case and another of his reviews.

I am unaware of Baldus making any efforts to correct these many misconceptions, over the many years that he should have. Despicable. I debated Baldus on these issues.

A) "The Math Behind Race, Crime and Sentencing Statistics" 
By John Allen Paulos, Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1998

B) See “The Odds of Execution” within “How numbers are tricking you”, by Arnold Barnett, MIT Technology Review October, 1994

7) Race, ethnicity and crime statistics.

For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault.

For the Hispanic- White comparison, the Hispanic level is 4.0 times greater than the White level for homicide, 3.8 times greater for robbery, 2.8 times greater for rape, and 2.3 times greater for aggravated assault.

For the Hispanic–Black comparison, the Black level is 3.1 times greater than the Hispanic level for homicide, 4.1 times greater for robbery, 2.4 times greater for rape, and 1.9 times greater for aggravated assault.

Sharp: As the most common capital murders, those which are death penalty eligible, are rape/murders and robbery/murders, the perceived "disparities" will most likely be even greater than the numbers, above.

"Recent studies suggest a decline in the relative Black effect on violent crime in recent decades and interpret this decline as resulting from greater upward mobility among African Americans during the past several decades."

"However, other assessments of racial stratification in American society suggest at least as much durability as change in Black social mobility since the 1980s."

When correcting for the Hispanic effect:

"Results suggest that little overall change has occurred in the Black share of violent offending in both UCR and NCVS estimates during the last 30 years."



8) "Black on white" crime vs "white on black" crime, gathered from a Google search, for the previous 12 months, from 8/30/13:

a) Blacks are 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit a robbery.

b) Blacks who commit homicide do so at a rate about 7.5 times larger than whites who commit homicide. The trend in black homicide correlates well with the change in overall homicide. This disparity also exists for other crimes: blacks commit them at about 7-10 times the rates of whites.

There are many different graphs of crime comparisons at this site.

Black And White Homicide Rates: Who’s Killing Whom?

c) In New York from January to June 2008, 83 percent of all gun assailants were black, according to witnesses and victims, though blacks were only 24 percent of the population. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of all gun assailants. Forty-nine of every 50 muggings and murders in the Big Apple were the work of black or Hispanic criminals.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirms Mac Donald’s facts. Blacks and Hispanics commit 96 percent of all crimes in the city, he says, but only 85 percent of the stop-and-frisks are of blacks and Hispanics.

d) The bottom line: While a white person is far more likely to be victimized by a black than the other way around (21% vs. 7%), the chances are three times as great that a white person will be victimized by another white than by a black.

The exception here is robbery. Whites are held up by blacks 49% of the time and by whites only 37%. Still, though violent crime is predominantly white on white or black on black, it is also true that black criminals commit more crimes against white victims (nearly 1.1 million in 1992) than they do against blacks (just under 1 million).

THE FACTS: Blacks, who represent just 12.5% of the U.S. population, account for a disproportionate share of violent crime. Still, the fact remains that whites commit more such crimes -- 54% vs. 45% for blacks, (even though blacks are 12.5% of the population) according to FBI arrest statistics. The numbers also vary widely depending on the crime, with blacks responsible for more murders and robberies (55% and 61% of these crimes, respectively) and whites committing more rapes and aggravated assaults (56% and 60%).

From previous research

With the crimes of  robbery with injury, blacks are 21 times more likely to be involved in such crimes as are whites. This 21:1 ratio represents 1.4 million black offender(s)/white victim vs. 68,000 white offender(s)/black victim for robbery with injury crimes (Sharp, using BJS, 1977-84 data).

Likely, this also represents the same ratio that will exist with robbery/murders, the most common capital murders, those eligible for the death penalty. The more severe injuries will result in death, regardless of racial characteristics of offenders or victims.This is a huge data base, likely to be more accurate and representative.

"The white defendant-black victim category is too small a portion of murders to materially influence the size of death row." From section 1, at top.


(1)  Rebutting the Myths About Race and the Death Penalty, Kent Scheidegger, 10 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 147 (2012).

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims