Monday, May 15, 2017

FULL REBUTTAL: Michael Radelet & Ben Cohen

To: All Editors and crime/government/political reporters & commentators
       The Advocate

Michael L. Radelet, sociologist, University of Colorado
Ben Cohen, of counsel, Promise of Justice Initiative.

cc: Governor John Bel Edwards and staff
Louisiana House and Senate
Justices Louisiana Supreme Court
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and staff
Louisiana District Attorneys Assoc.
Louisiana Sheriff's Assoc.
Louisiana State Troopers Assoc.

All Catholic Diocese, Bishops and staff

Media throughout Louisiana 
Editors, Bureau Chiefs, Directors, Managers and government/crime reporters

RE: Full Rebuttal to:
Guest column: Death penalty deters crime? Facts and most criminologists beg to differ, Michael L. Radelet and Ben Cohen, The Advocate,  MAY 11, 2017

From: Dudley Sharp

I quote Radelet & Cohen (R&C), then rebut them, point by point, for every point.

1) Radelet & Cohen: "The Louisiana Legislature is considering two bills to replace the death penalty with life without parole, saving Louisiana — under conservative estimates — at least 10 million dollars annually."

Rebuttal: There is no cost analysis of life without parole and the death penalty in Louisiana.  Presumption is not fact, not matter how R&C wishes it to be so, to the contrary.

Here is a suggested, thorough "apples to apples" protocol for such a study (1). 

No one questions that Louisiana's death penalty system is inefficient and that it can be made much more responsible. It is not the death penalty which is inefficient, but the managers of the death penalty who are. Fix them.

For example, see Virginia, with 111 executions since 1976, within 7 years of appeals, on average, with an 11% overturning rate in appeals, a protocol which would save every jurisdiction money over life without parole (LWOP) (2).

If Virginia can do it so can Louisiana.

Rationally and legally, death penalty protocols should be less expensive than LWOP protocols, as detailed (2).

2) Radelet & Cohen: "As Frank Baumgartner and others have noted, some 82 percent of Louisiana death sentences imposed since 1976 have been reversed."

Rebuttal:   Radelet & Cohen have as difficult a time fact checking and doing math, as does Baumgartner.

Baumgartner established that there has been 241 death sentences in Louisiana, since 1976, with 127 reversed on appeal, which is 53%, not 82%, as previously sent to those addressed, hereto, with

Race & Reversals: Fact checking Prof. Baumgartner:
In a message dated 4/27/2017 4:07:52 P.M. CDT

also re-read

How bad is Prof. Frank Baumgartner?
In a message dated 4/27/2017 4:07:52 P.M. CDT

also sent to those addressed, hereto, on those dates.

======
A reliable, unbiased source established the death row overturning rate in Louisiana at 49%, as of Dec., 2013. In Virginia it is 11%. (TABLE 17, Prisoners sentenced to death and the outcome of the sentence, by jurisdiction, 1973–2013, Capital Punishment, 2013 - Statistical Tables | December 2014, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics Program (NPS-8), page 20, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cp13st.pdf
======


3) Radelet & Cohen: "And with last month’s exoneration of Rodricus Crawford, 11 individuals sentenced to death in Louisiana have been released from prison without any charges whatsoever. By any measure, Louisiana taxpayers are getting scammed."

Rebuttal:  Released does no mean actually innocent, as R&C both know (3), as do we all and, as detailed, to those addressed, hereto. with

Death Row: The "Exoneration" Frauds 
Date: 4/28/2017 6:54:38 A.M. CDT

4) Radelet & Cohen: "Jeff Sadow’s column of May 6 — suggesting Louisiana’s death penalty might save lives by deterring capital murder— is both empirically and logically moribund, and is counter to the views of virtually all the top criminologists in the United States. In 2012, the renowned National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences and composed of the foremost scholars in the United States, reviewed all the research done on the deterrence question, and concluded that there is not a shred of evidence that the death penalty has any effect on the homicide rate. Their report also discredited the small number of studies that had claimed to find a deterrent effect."

Rebuttal:  It has never and can never be proven that the death penalty deters none (4). R&C must know that. Therefore, your option is to risk sacrificing more innocents by having no death penalty/execution or to "risk" saving more innocent lives by having the death penalty/executions (4,5).

It is not disputed that the death penalty saves innocent lives, in, at least two ways, better than does LWOP (4).

In addition, by fact and reason, the death penalty is an enhanced deterrent over LWOP (4,5).

Most people understand what would happen if we stopped enforcing  all criminal laws. See Somolia. Most, if not all, sanctions deter some. Some sociologists and criminologists don't see it.  Willful blindness.

The National Research Council (NRC) study (the Nagin study) was headed by  Prof. Nagin, whose academic chair is paid for by an anti death penalty trust (4), with two other well known anti death penalty groups funding the study (6).  Conflicts of interest are rarely this obvious.

In addition, the Nagin study was, easily, undermined (6). It appears that the only thing the NRC did was to publish the study and to forget about NRC's conflict of interest rules (6).

The Nagin study did not discredit any of the studies finding for death penalty/execution deterrence (6). The Nagin study discredited itself, as detailed (6).

5) Radelet & Cohen: ". . .  (Radelet) found in a 2009 study, 95 percent of the nation’s top criminologists — a group to which it seems unlikely Sadow belongs — rejected the idea that the death penalty is a better deterrent than life without parole to the commission of homicide."

Rebuttal: First, in that study the criminologists tell you they believe in death penalty deterrence but reject "that the death penalty is a better deterrent than life without parole to the commission of homicide".  A little, rational progress.

Nearly all of us, inclusive of potential murderers, prefer life over death and fear death over life. That which we prefer more, deters less. That which we fear more, deters more. Basic.

What Radelet & Cohen "forgot" to infom you about Radelet's survey:

"Within this Survey, the response to question 12 finds that 92% of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some." (7)

"The responses to question 8 found that 61% (or 46) of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies." (7)

6)  Radelet & Cohen: "Over the last 25 years, the murder rate in states without the death penalty has been consistently lower than in states with the death penalty."

Rebuttal: It's hard to believe that R&C are unaware that such tells us nothing.

As is well known, as a rule, deterrence cannot be measured by murder rates. Somehow, R&C are unaware? Really? Nagin's study used murder rates, as well.

Let's say Iceland and it's capital Reykjavikare are the country and city with the lowest crime and murder rates in the world.

Does that mean that every other city and country have no deterrence because their crime and murder rates are higher than those two?

Of course not. Such would be an absurd conclusion, which is what R&C want you to accept.

Deterrence is based upon whether some criminal activity is deterred because the potential criminal is restrained, based upon a conscious or subconscious fear of being caught and/or sanctioned, if they commit the crime, regardless of the crime rates and regardless of crimes going up, down or remaining the same.

If you looked at differences in crime rates within neighborhoods, zip codes, towns, cities, and counties within each state or between all the world's countries, with and without the death penalty, crime and murder rates will be high, some low, some medium, whether in a death penalty jurisdiction or not.  We all know it, just from the communities within which we live and our knowledge of the world.

For example: "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." (8)

In Louisiana, during the same period of time, we have this:

In the towns of Golden Meadow, Blanchard and DeQuincy the violent crime rate per 1000 was 0 (zero) (9).

In the towns of Hammond, Amite and Bastrop  the violent crime rate per 1000 averaged 250, one out of every four citizens (10).

Now do that same thing in the non death penalty jurisdictions of Michigan and Maryland, both with some of the highest murder rate sub-jurisdicitions in the US, but where you can also find some zero violent crime rate sub-jurisdicitions, as well.

And a comparison of countries, here (11).

All of which prove the obvious, that you can't just use murder rates to make a determination about deterrence. My guess it that Redelet has known that for about 40 years, just as with Prof. Nagin, who also used murder rates in the Nagin study.

7)  Radelet & Cohen: "Research in Arizona and Oklahoma suggests that having the death penalty increases rather than reduces the number of murders — indicating that it might actually have a brutalizing effect, increasing homicides and detracting from the valuing of life. There is reason to suspect that this brutalizing effect exists in Louisiana— where the state has the highest murder rate in the country."

Rebuttal: The "science", with this, is that if we have no sanctions, that we smile and love all criminals, give them flowers and iced tea after ever murder and rape, that because we are so altruistic, that such an atmosphere will transform criminals into Miss Manners and that utopia will reign.

That could be Senate Bill 455. Any one want to move that bill forward?

8)  Radelet & Cohen: "America’s police chiefs identify the death penalty as the last-ranked priority in reducing crime, and the most inefficient use of taxpayer dollars."

Rebuttal: It's the last ranked only because capital murder is the lowest by number of crimes, thank goodness. About 90% of police chiefs support the death penalty.

For the vast majority of police chiefs, capital murders are investigated by the best of the best detectives, showing the highest priority and have the highest rate of crimes solved, as many of us would suspect. And we all know, too well, that when an officer is murdered, it is the highest priority crime to be solved and a universal death penalty eligible crime, in US death penalty jurisdictions, as it should be.

9) Radelet & Cohen: "For many, life imprisonment is an even worse punishment than death on the gurney."

Rebuttal: Laughable. Possibly, we've had about 70,000 death penalty eligible murder since 1973, when states first began passing new statutes, in the modern death penalty era. We've sentenced about 8300 to death row, after about 25,000 death penalty option trials.

Of those 70,000 how many showed us that LWOP was worse than execution? About 141 "volunteered" for execution, meaning they waived future appeals and were executed

141 is 0.2% of 70,000, 0.56% of 25,000 and 1.7% of 8300.

So, R&C are telling us that 98.3%, 99.44% or 99.8% of capital murderers prefer life over execution. Hardly a surprise.

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

Nearly 100% of all capital murderers do all they can, pre trial, in trial, within appeals and within executive clemency/commutation efforts to stay alive and avoid execution.

And nearly all of us feel the same way, inclusive of potential capital murderers.

10) Radelet & Cohen: "And when Sadow proposes a death penalty system that has reduced the risk of wrongful execution to zero, he is imagining a regime of perfection that does not exist."

 Rebuttal: Innocents are more at risk when we allow murderers to live (4).

Therefore, the anti death penalty position is to sacrifice more innocents by making sure that all guilty murderers live.

It's a trade off that anti death penalty folks have admitted to for decades.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." (4).

They both chose sparing the lives of 1300 guilty murderers (executed from 1973-2013) over saving an additional 6.3 million innocent lives, taken by murder (a 1000% increase in the murder rate 1973-2013).

Pro death penalty scholar Ernest van den Haag interviewed well known anti death penalty activists, asking them, if it was proven that 100 innocent lives were spared per execution, via deterrence, would you still oppose the death penalty. All said yes (4).

Based upon our 1300 executions (1973-2013), those anti death penalty folks would chose sparing the lives of 1300 guilty murderers over saving the lives of 130,000 innocents from murder.

11) Radelet & Cohen"we also suggest that academics think twice before disseminating unsubstantiated pseudo-science, especially when millions of dollars — along with the conscience of the community — are at stake."

Rebuttal: Radelet & Cohen need only look in the mirror.

======
1) Death Penalty Costs vs Life Without Parole Costs: Study Protocol
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2015/05/death-penalty-cost-study-protocol.html

2)  see Virginia et al
Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/02/death-penalty-cost-saving-money.html

3) The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy
READ SECTIONS 3&4 FIRST
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-innocent-frauds-standard-anti-death.html

4)    The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-death-penalty-do-innocents-matter.html


5) OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
and
MURDERERS MUCH PREFER LIFE OVER EXECUTION
99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/03/of-course-death-penalty-deters.htm

6)  Death Penalty Deterrence: Defended & Advanced
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/06/death-penalty-deterrence-defended.html

7)  "Deterrence & the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/02/deterrence-and-the-death-penalty-a-reply-to-radelet-and-lacock.aspx

8) DEATH PENALTY DETERRENCE CLARIFIED
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/12/death-penalty-deterrence-clarified.html

9) "The 11 Safest Places To Live In Louisiana", by Kezia Kamenetz, Only in Your State, August 06, 2015,
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/louisiana/safest-places-la/

10) "The 10 Most Dangerous Places In Louisiana", by Kezia Kamenetz, Only in Your State, August 09, 2015,
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/louisiana/dangerous-places-la/ 

11) "Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear
"http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/03/death-penalty-deterrence-murder-rates.html

also see

DETERRENCE, THE DEATH PENALTY & MURDER RATES
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/12/deterrence-death-penalty-murder-rates.html