Friday, June 08, 2018

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

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

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

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


Those Gallup polls found that death penalty opposition fell by 43% and support rose by 25% , when comparing polls of a specific death penalty eligible crime, those with a "sometimes" response option (more support. less opposition) to the category of all murders, excluding a "sometimes" answer  (less support, more opposition, still majority support), which is what Gallup does. (3)
 
Quinnipiac polling has a decade or so of polling with "sometimes" and "no" answers, reflecting those same outcomes.
 
3)    Very important -  These  are, rarely, if ever, shown by the media:
 
--   95% Death Penalty Support by Loved Ones of Capital Murder Victims, from non scientific polling (4)
 
--   92% of police chiefs support the death penalty (5)
 
You almost, never, see the 92%, anywhere, because the study was funded by an anti death penalty group, The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
 
What we, almost, always see from the media and other snti death penalty folks, from that study is this:
 
"Police chiefs rank the death penalty last as a way of reducing violent crime, placing it behind curbing drug abuse, more police. "
 
Never is that analyzed in media.
 
Of course the death penalty is last at "reducing violent crime". It has to be. Capital murder is, by far, the smallest component of all violent crimes and, as a result of that, any deterrent and incapacitation effects of the death penalty/executions will, necessarily, be the smallest for all other violent crimes and there sanctions, as detailed and 19 states don't even have the death penalty.  
 
To show some perspective:
 
There have been about 8400 death sentences and 1400 executions since 1973.
 
Just today, right now, there are about 6, 000, 000  persons under criminal justice "control", meaning in jail, in prison, and under some sort of supervision, parole or probation.  What do you think that total number would be, for all violent crimes, from 1973-today -  20-30 million?
 
Per year, drug abuse affects about 40 million Americans and costs about $740 billion per year (6).
 
The police support the death penalty because it is just in some cases, just as the support for other sanction.
 
1) There are, at least, two ways to check media bias.
 
a) Look at stories that had weeks and months to fact check/vet, as here:
 
Courts, states put death penalty on life support
Death Penalty: HOW MEDIA MURDERS THE TRUTH
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2015/09/courts-states-put-death-penalty-on-life.html
 
b) Then look at the pro death penalty side of the story and reflect how often you find a balance in death penalty stories - almost never.
 
The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents
 

2) 86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever - April 2013
World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/11/86-death-penalty-support-highest-ever.html
 
3)   US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High
 
4)   95% Death Penalty Support by Loved Ones of Capital Murder Victims
 
5) figure 5, pg 15, , THE FRONT LINE: Law Enforcement Views on the Death Penalty , The Death Penalty Information Center,
 
6) Drug Abuse Statistics
 
and
 
Trends and Statistics, National Institute of Drug Abuse
 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Texas: Why Fewer Death Sentences

Texas: Why Fewer Death Sentences
Dudley Sharp

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

From: Dudley Sharp

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

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

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

Whose right? Kepple - by a mile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 05, 2018

"The Penalty", a documentary

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

Fact Checking Required For All Sides

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

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

1) Dennis McGuire's Botched Execution

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

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

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

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

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

Obvious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic.

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

My condolences for the loved ones of Shelby.

3)  The wrongful conviction of Damon Thibodeaux

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

Thibodeaux has been trying to get compensated for his 15 years on death row. So far, that has not been resolved. Thibodeaux has been unable to establish proof of  his actual innocence for nearly 22 years, since the 1996 rape/murder.  Proof of actual innocence is the standard for getting compensated, as well detailed, here (3).  Nothing has progressed since 
2014.

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

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

My condolences for the loved ones of Crystal Champagne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Death penalty problems

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

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

Responsible management overcomes one of Darlene Farah's objections.

6) The Death Penalty Doesn't Provide Closure

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

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

7) Clemency for Raymond Tibbetts (12)

There is no case for the Governor granting clemency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8) Hank Skinner is Innocent

Hank Skinner, Guilty as Always

=====
More to come
====

1)  The (Imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-imagined-horror-of-dennis-mcguires.html

3)  For compensation, former Death Row inmate Damon Thibodeaux must prove innocence, state reiterates, July 18, 2014,  http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/07/former_death_row_inmate_damon_1.ht
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4) "My Daughter's Killer Should Not Get the Death Penalty", By DARLENE FARAH, TIME, February 19, 2016,  http://time.com/4228181/florida-death-penalty/

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

9)  The Death Penalty: Fair and Just

and

The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents

10)  Judges Responsible For Grossly Uneven Executions

11) See Virginia within

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