Monday, December 16, 2013


updated 9/2019

The Death Penalty: Fair & Just
Dudley Sharp

The following addresses the most common fairness/justice issues within the death penalty debate.

The death penalty is given for the same reason all sanctions are, that is that it is deemed a just, appropriate and proportional sanction, in the context of the crime.

These topics reflect part of my moral journey from death penalty opponent to advocate, with the first two topics, by far, the most important.

Victim's Voices - These are the murder victims 

"The bodies were very badly decomposed, even for four days in Houston's brutal summer heat and humidity, particularly in the head, neck and genital areas. The medical examiner later testified that this is how she could be sure as to the horrible brutality of the rapes, beatings and murders."

The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter?

"Well known anti death penalty scholars "(Charles) Black and (Hugo Adam ) Bedau said they would favor abolishing the death penalty even if they knew that doing so would increase the homicide rate by 1,000 percent." 

They would chose sparing the lives of 1500 guilty murderers (executed from 1973-2013) over saving an additional 7.2 million innocent lives, taken by murder.

Anti death penalty. academic leaders make that argument.  Astounding. "

The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey: “. . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy.” 


White murderers are twice as likely to be executed as are black murderers 

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.

"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."

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.

As robbery/murder is, by far, the most common death penalty eligible murder, the multiples will be even greater.
Is There Class Disparity with Executions?

"99.8% of poor murderers have avoided execution.

It is, solely, dependent upon ones definitions of "wealthy" and "poor", as to whether wealthy murderers are any more or less likely than 0.2% to be executed, based upon the vast minority of capital murders committed by the rich, as compared to the vast majority committed by the poor.


"The  53:1 ratio indicates that women may be on death row in greater numbers than we would expect or similar to what we would predict."

Both the guilty & the innocent have the greatest of protections

The facts tell us that the death penalty is the least arbitrary and capricious sanction in the US.

Protections for the guilty murderer and the actual innocent accused are unmatched by any other sanction protocol.

Nothing else comes close. 

Texas Death Penalty Procedures

100% of the 48 votes (4 voting issues for each of the 12 jurors), must be against the defendant/murderer, for a death sentence to be given. 2%, only 1 of those 48 votes, must be for the defendant/murderer, to remove the death penalty option.

Any juror can use anything they want, personally and subjectively, to spare the murderer a death sentence.

Judges Responsible for Grossly Uneven Executions

Judges are responsible for grossly uneven executions, demonstrating dictatorial like contempt for the law in those states where it is, virtually, impossible to execute confirmed murderers.

If abortions had to be individually, approved or rejected, by judicial ruling, and some states approved them at a 50-70% rate and others at a 0-10% rate, do you think the media might notice?

 No "Botched" Execution - Arizona (or Ohio)  

Rebuttal: Botched Executions  

Possibly, lethal injection botched executions occur 1% of the time, not 7%, as simple fact checking/vetting find.

The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation

Those who say that the death penalty is a human rights violation have no solid moral or philosophical foundation for making such a statement.  What opponents of capital punishment really are saying is that they just don't approve of executions.

Certainly, both freedom and life are fundamental human rights.  On this, there is virtually no disagreement.  Virtually all agree, that freedom may be taken away when there is a violation of the social contract. Freedom, a fundamental human right, may be taken away from those who violate society's laws.  So to is the fundamental human right of life forfeit when the violation of the social contract is most grave.

The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge

Far from moral superiority, those who call capital punishment an expression of hatred and revenge are often exhibiting their contempt for those who believe differently than they do.  Instead, they might reflect on why others believe it is a just and deserved sanction for the crimes committed.

The pro death penalty position is based upon those who find that punishment just and appropriate under specific circumstances. Retributive justice as opposed to revenge.

Those opposed to execution cannot prove a foundation of hatred and revenge for the death penalty any more than they can for any other punishment sought within a system such as that observed within the US - unless such opponents find all punishments a product of hatred and revenge - an unreasonable, unfounded position.

Killing Equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents

For such anti death penalty folks to be consistent, they must also equate holding people against their will (illegal kidnapping) with the sanction for it, the holding people against their will (legal incarceration) or the taking money away from people (illegal robbery) with a sanction for that, taking money away from people (legal restitution).

Most folks understand the moral differences.

Some anti death penalty folks are either incapable of knowing the moral differences between crime and punishment, guilty criminals and their innocent victims, or they are knowingly using a dishonest slogan by equating  killing (murder) with killing (execution).

Murder Victims' Families Against The Death Penalty: 
More Hurt For Victims Families

Instead of being divisive and hurtful, why can't MVFADP just say, "we oppose the death penalty, but respect your right to support the death penalty in your case."? MVFADP won't support other victims in that fashion because their sole goal is to get rid of the death penalty, not helping any victims who feel differently but, in fact, working against them.

Instead, the MVFADP are, actively, seeking to deny that right to those who find the death penalty just. Thus, the MVFADP are, intentionally hurtful and divisive, when they need not be.

95% Death Penalty Support by Loved Ones of Capital Murder Victims

The Death Penalty: Pro Life

Based upon biblical and theological teachings, one can, reasonably and responsibly, find that an anti death penalty view is not pro life.

All sanctions are given because we value what is being taken away.

Whether it be fines, freedom or lives, in every case we take things away, as legal sanction, it is because we value that which is taken away.

How can it be a sanction, if we do not value that which is taken away? It can't.

Nitrogen Gas; Flawless, peaceful, unrestricted method of execution

86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty 

86% death penalty support (1), the highest I have ever located

22% of the 86% finding the death penalty "always appropriate", the highest I have ever located (2)
64% of the 86% finding the death penalty "sometimes appropriate"
9% finding the death penalty "never appropriate", the lowest I have ever located

Why didn't you hear of this poll? The media excluded it from coverage.

Moral Support for the Death Penalty

“If an offender has committed murder, he must die. In this case, no possible substitute can satisfy justice. For there is no parallel between death and even the most miserable life, so that there is no equality of crime and retribution unless the perpetrator is judicially put to death.”  Immanuel Kant