Majority Supports Life In Prison Over Death Penalty, Poll Finds

A new poll finds that a strong majority of Americans support life in prison instead of the death penalty.

A new Gallup poll finds that a majority of Americans now support life in prison without parole over the death penalty:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the first time in Gallup’s 34-year trend, a majority of Americans say that life imprisonment with no possibility of parole is a better punishment for murder than the death penalty is.

The 60% to 36% advantage for life imprisonment marks a shift from the past two decades, when Americans were mostly divided in their views of the better punishment for murder. During the 1980s and 1990s, consistent majorities thought the death penalty was the better option for convicted murderers.

The Oct. 14-31 survey was conducted before a Texas state court halted the scheduled execution of Rodney Reed in mid-November. A number of prominent politicians and celebrities joined legal activist groups in lobbying Texas officials to spare Reed amid new evidence that could exonerate him.

These new numbers come just five years after the Gallup poll found for the first time that more Americans supported life without parole than the death penalty, reversing a trend where public opinion regarding the two options was relatively even, as the chart below shows:

Even while the public prefers the option of life without parole over death, though, a more generic poll shows that a smaller majority continues to support the death penalty in and of itself without asking respondents to choose one option or the other:

Even as Americans have shifted to viewing life imprisonment without parole as preferable to execution, a majority still favor use of the death penalty, according to Gallup’s long-term death penalty trend question, which was updated in an Oct. 1-13 poll. That question, first asked in 1936, simply asks Americans if they are “in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder,” without providing an alternative option. Currently, 56% of U.S. adults say they are in favor of the death penalty for convicted murderers in response to this question.

Support for the death penalty, as measured by the historical Gallup question, has been steady over the past three years. However, it is down seven percentage points from 2014, the last time Gallup asked the life imprisonment versus death penalty question.

The percentage in favor of using the death penalty has been lower than it is now, most notably during the mid-1960s through early 1970s. A 1966 survey found 42% of Americans in favor and 47% opposed to the death penalty, the only time more have expressed opposition than support.

Growing concerns about states’ just application of their death penalty statutes led the Supreme Court to effectively impose a moratorium on the death penalty in the U.S. in 1972. Four years later, when support for the death penalty had climbed to 66%, the Supreme Court upheld revised state death penalty laws. Executions resumed in the U.S. in 1977.

At least six in 10 Americans favored the death penalty from 1976 through 2016, peaking at 80% in 1994, when crime was a top concern for Americans.

As this chart shows, though, public support for capital punishment in and of itself was far lower than it has been in the past:

INSERT GALLUP CHART TWO

It’s important to be clear about what we’re seeing here. It’s not so much that the American public is rejecting the death penalty or turning away from it on moral or other grounds, although the fact that the overall approval for capital punishment has declined over the past decade is certainly significant. Instead, we’ve now got a majority of people who say that they would rather see a murderer spend the rest of their life in prison than sent to death row, where they’re likely to spend decades before getting anywhere near an execution date in any case.  Thanks to either legislative action or court decisions, several states have already moved in this direction, with states such as New York and New Jersey, which had both revived the death penalty as a sentence after the Supreme Court’s opinion in Gregg v. Georgia which ended what had effectively been a moratorium on the death penalty in the wake of the earlier decision in Furman v. Georgia, although neither state had ever actually executed anyone. Recent controversies in Ohio and Oklahoma over the procedures involved in execution by lethal injection have brought the issue back into the forefront, with some states going so far as to bring back more barbaric forms of punishment.

The interesting question, of course, is why we’re seeing public support for the death penalty on the decline, and certainly far lower than it was as recently as ten or twenty years ago. One reason could be the fact that this period has also coincided with the rising use of DNA evidence in court and the number of times that groups such as The Innocence Project have been able to get people freed from prison, and in several cases from death row based on DNA or other evidence that either establishes their innocence or casts their conviction into significant doubt Additionally, there have been many examples of misconduct or mistakes by police and prosecutors that have resulted in innocent people going to prison. Finally, there have been cases such as that of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was put to death by Texas fo the arson-related deaths of his three children, a crime for which that he was most likely innocent as investigations after his execution determined.

Beyond these reasons, there could be something more basic at stake, namely the fact that Americans are beginning to recognize the fact that crime in general and violent crime particularly have declined significantly over the past quarter-century. The argument in favor of this argument, which Allahpundit advances in a post at Hot Air, can be seen in the fact that a Gallup poll from one year ago shows that public concern about crime has declined significantly over the past 20 years:

The argument is further bolstered by the fact that crime overall, and most especially violent crime has decreased significantly since the 1990s. As the chart at the top of the post shows, of course, that coincides with the fact that support for the death penalty was highest in the 1990s and has fallen, slowly but surely, over the past 25 years or so.

In addition to these arguments, though, it appears that what we’re seeing in polls such as this is a cultural change that is starting to impact the political debate. Whatever the reason for it, and there is likely more than one explanation for the fact that Americans now prefer life without parole over the death penalty, This cultural change can be seen that even among self-identified Republicans support for the death penalty has decreased over the past five years, although this is the one demographic subgroup that still supports capital punishment over life without parole:

The big question, of course, is whether this will lead to changes in the law. Obviously, we’re unlikely to see states like Texas abandoning the death penalty any time soon, but this change in public opinion could have a huge impact in states where the enthusiasm for execution isn’t quite so gung-ho as it is in the Lone Star State such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and others where executions have been far less common than they have in Texas, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Additionally, the ongoing problems that states are having obtaining the drugs used in executions, caused in no small part by the fact that the companies that make them are becoming less willing to sell them to the states for purposes of killing, is likely to slow the pace of executions nationwide for some time to come. Perhaps all of these factors combined will speed up the day that we finally put this unfortunate, barbaric, and immoral practice behind us.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Public Opinion Polls, Society, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    If Cameron Todd Willingham had been given life in prison, he could have been released several years ago when it was clear he was innocent. And he’s probably one of a thousand innocent people who were executed.

  2. mattbernius says:

    @Teve:

    If Cameron Todd Willingham had been given life in prison, he could have been released several years ago when it was clear he was innocent.

    Theoretically. The reality is that even if he wasn’t executed, depending on the state, it often takes extraordinary measures to get a conviction overturned.

    One irony (and this is NOT a reason to support the death penalty AT ALL!) is that people on Death Row get more opportunities for review than any other type of prisoner.

  3. mattbernius says:

    It’s truly unfortunate that at the same time things are trending in this direction, under Trump’s orders, the DoJ is doing everything in its power to begin expediting executions.

  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    As we watch Trump pervert the DOJ for his own personal benefit, and the abject corruption of Baghdad Barr as AG…the argument against the death penalty only get’s stronger.
    The best intentioned system is too imperfect to be able to choose life or death for a human being…a system weaponized by political forces, and possessing that power, would be a beyond words.

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  5. DrDaveT says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I have to agree. The strength of the case for the death penalty is proportional to the probity and rigor of the criminal justice system. At a time when the government is abandoning even a pretense of caring about facts, the death penalty is insupportable.

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  6. Scott says:

    The Willingham case changed my opinion forever. If just one innocent person is executed then that is one too many. A shrug and an oops! is not acceptable.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    One might, I suppose, make the argument that a Minnesota prosecutor/judge/jury might be competent to decide life and death. But in Alabama or Louisiana? Please.

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  8. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    One might, I suppose, make the argument that a Minnesota prosecutor/judge/jury might be competent to decide life and death.

    Sorry need to call you out on a regional bias here. Given what we know about how fragmented our criminal justice system is — and how easy it is for the State to abuse the process — there is NO county in the country that should have the power to put anyone to death.

    Full Stop.

    Nobody gets out clean on this one.

    (for extra credit: https://www.ipmn.org/)

  9. An Interested Party says:

    What level of cruelty must some people have, knowing that many murder trials are flawed with innocent people convicted, and yet still insisting that anyone convicted be put to death…

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  10. mattbernius says:

    @An Interested Party:
    My personal disconnect is that I find that these are the same people who on any other count fundamentally do not trust government to do *ANYTHING* well. And yet they will go to the mat to provide their State (and because criminal justice plays out at the local level) and county government the ability to kill people.

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @mattbernius: You took the words out of my mouth. The same population insistent that “you can’t trust the government!” is perfectly willing to allow the government to put someone to death and obviously there are never any mistakes, lying witnesses, corrupt prosecutors or judges, or crackpot theories put forward by “expert testimony.” (These are the same individuals who rant about the number of appeals people on death row get access to, natch.)

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  12. Kit says:

    @mattbernius:

    My personal disconnect is that I find that these are the same people who on any other count fundamentally do not trust government to do *ANYTHING* well

    Once you learn to ignore everything they say and simply concentrate on what they do, all the apparent contradictions melt away.

  13. Kathy says:

    @Scott:

    The old principle “better that ten guilty men go free than to convict an innocent man,” is little more than a noble sentiment some people can pretend to believe. To be sure there are problems with that principle, such as what harm those ten guilty people will inflict on the innocent.

    Nevertheless, in some states, and for some people, the sentiment seems to be “Kill them all and let St. Peter sort them out.”

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  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: Indeed! That is both ironic AND not a reason to support the death penalty.

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattbernius: There is one other thing these people will trust the government to do. They will trust it to plant “the Tree of Liberty” on foreign soil–as long as said government keeps watering it with the blood of other people’s children.

  16. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Teve:

    Well, no.

    Summary

    There was zero suppression of evidence, except that within the movie and article “Trial By Fire”, as detailed.

    In the Willingham triple murder/arson case, a review of the The Texas Forensic Science Commission report detailes that that all fire forensic markers for arson, save one, may have been accurate, as determined by the original fire investigators (3).”

    “None of the many conclusions for arson, with the exception of crazed glass, could be excluded from the assessments of the original Texas fire experts, the only investigators who examined the physical evidence (3).”

    “The later assessments, critical of the original investigation, had no access to any of the physical evidence from the fire, overlooked critical eyewitness testimony, as well as additional fact details, and could not exclude arson (3).”

    “Combining the forensic fire evidence with eyewitness testimony, inclusive of that by Todd Willingham, the case for arson is solid (3).”

    The Innocence Project and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s office, together, reviewed over 1,000 Texas arson cases in which someone was held criminally responsible (1).

    The findings, through 5/2019: 1 case out of that 1000 has resulted in an exoneration based upon flawed forensics (2).

    0.1%. Keep that in mind.

    We, now, know, that Willingham wasn’t stopping to save the twins. Why not save Amber? His intention was to murder her and them, not save anyone. That’s the only credible explanation, confirmed by the statements of eyewitnesses, including Todd.

    After Willingham left the house, he had plenty of time and plenty of doors and windows, for reentry, away from the fire, to save Amber. He had no intention of doing so. How do we know? Because he had every opportunity to do so and didn’t and he told us so.

    Complete review:

    Rebuttal: “Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?”
    https://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/10/cameron-todd-willingham-media-meltdown.html

    Sent To: since 8/2017, with continuous updates

    To: All Major Film Critic Associations & Film Festivals
    Entertainment Reporters and Sites & Crime Reporters
    Edward Zwick and his Bedford Falls Production
    Roadside Attractions, distributor
    Flashlight Films’ Allyn Stewart & Kipp Nelson
    Kathryn Dean and Marshall Herskovitz, executive producers
    The New Yorker & David Grann
    Actors Jack O’Connell and Laura Dern
    Screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher
    Vickie Thomas Casting
    George Polk Award Committee &
    Long Island U – Brooklyn, Faculty, Directors, Deans & Chairs of Journalism & Communications

  17. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Teve:

    Well, no.

    Summary

    There was zero suppression of evidence, except that within the movie and article “Trial By Fire”, as detailed.

    In the Willingham triple murder/arson case, a review of the The Texas Forensic Science Commission report detailes that that all fire forensic markers for arson, save one, may have been accurate, as determined by the original fire investigators (3).”

    “None of the many conclusions for arson, with the exception of crazed glass, could be excluded from the assessments of the original Texas fire experts, the only investigators who examined the physical evidence (3).”

    “The later assessments, critical of the original investigation, had no access to any of the physical evidence from the fire, overlooked critical eyewitness testimony, as well as additional fact details, and could not exclude arson (3).”

    “Combining the forensic fire evidence with eyewitness testimony, inclusive of that by Todd Willingham, the case for arson is solid (3).”

    The Innocence Project and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s office, together, reviewed over 1,000 Texas arson cases in which someone was held criminally responsible (1).

    The findings, through 5/2019: 1 case out of that 1000 has resulted in an exoneration based upon flawed forensics (2).

    0.1%. Keep that in mind.

    We, now, know, that Willingham wasn’t stopping to save the twins. Why not save Amber? His intention was to murder her and them, not save anyone. That’s the only credible explanation, confirmed by the statements of eyewitnesses, including Todd.

    After Willingham left the house, he had plenty of time and plenty of doors and windows, for reentry, away from the fire, to save Amber. He had no intention of doing so. How do we know? Because he had every opportunity to do so and didn’t and he told us so.

    Complete review:

    Rebuttal: “Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?”
    at prodpinnc

    distributed since 8/2017, with continuous updates

  18. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Kathy:

    If that were, remotely, true, which it is not, the average time of appeals for those executed in 2017 would not have been 19 years.

    Some more reality.

    Let’s look at the 1o guilty set free, OK.

    Possibly, we might have proof of two innocents executed in 1915, the most recent.

    Since 1973, in the US

    About 21,000 innocents have been murdered by those KNOWN murderers that we have allowed to murder, again – recidivist murderers.

    About 500,000 innocents have been murdered by those KNOWN criminals we have allowed to harm, again – recidivist criminals.

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  19. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    You write:

    “it often takes extraordinary measures to get a conviction overturned.”

    The facts are just the opposite. Judges love to overturn death penalty cases.

    Since 1973, we have executed 15% of those sentenced, with about 43% removed by appeals or commutation.

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  20. Dudley Sharp says:

    Doug:

    This is a preference poll.

    This is how they work.

    60% prefer vanilla, 35% prefer chocolate.

    100% wish to retain both.

  21. Dudley Sharp says:

    Doug:

    It is also important to note that Gallup asks several questions within their death penalty polls, with media only presenting the lowest support percentage, when one of the others is, almost, always, 10% points higher.

    Some others:

    Polling 95- 99% Death Penalty Support by Loved Ones of Capital Murder Victims (2)

    94% of victims’ family members said the imposed death sentence should be carried out (3).

    92% of police chiefs support the death penalty (4)

    86% Death Penalty Support: Highest Ever – April 2013. World Support Remains High (5). The media did not allow you to see this poll.

    81% support the execution of Oklahoma City bomber, mass murderer Timothy McVeigh, 16% opposed (1)

    70% support death penalty for Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev(6). I found support as low as 15% in Boston.

    California , arguably, the most liberal state in the nation, California has had three referendum, popular votes to decide if the death penalty should be ended, with each vote supporting the death penalty and, most recently, asking to speed up death penalty appeals.

    A California gubernatorial candidate, (now Governor) Newsom promised he would respect the pro death penalty vote of the people. He lied (7).

    Western Europe

    The majority population of Western Europe supported the execution of Iraqi mass murderer dictator Saddam Hussein. Western Europe is, by far, the most vocal anti death penalty group of governments (EU) in the world. The government vs the people.

    Asia

    Asia, collectively, has the highest percentage of death penalty countries, with the lowest murder rate.

    footnotes upon request sharpjfa@aol.com

  22. Dudley Sharp says:

    Doug:

    When asking about death penalty support, don’t you think it would matter that they ask about death penalty murders as opposed to the generic “murders”?

    Death Penalty polls should

    1) Provide an actual death penalty case, not just murders, as death penalty eligible murders make up, only, about 10-15% of all murders.

    2) The question:

    Should the death penalty remain an option in cases of rape/murders or mass/serial murders (or other)?

    3) with the answer options of
    always
    sometimes and
    never

    Why? It is the only proper way to ask about death penalty support, using actual death penalty eligible cases and you will know the percentage

    1) who oppose all executions, in all circumstances
    2) who sometimes supports the death penalty, based upon specific circumstances, just as we enforce it and
    3) who supports executions, no matter the specific circumstances

    See Timothy McVeigh with 81% supporting his execution or, when given the “sometimes” option, death penalty support went to 86%, when given the actual way we enforce it – “sometimes” and rarely.

  23. Dudley Sharp says:

    Doug:

    Hope you fact check/vet anything from the Innocence Project

    Ask them how many false confessions have they invented.

    “Dr. Welner demonstrated how poor scientific methodology and an anti-police agenda among declared scholars in this novel area of scientific interest result in inflated perceptions of the prevalence of false confessions.

    These include false representations by The Innocence Project that the proportion of false confessions in wrongful conviction cases is 25 percent when that percentage is in actuality close to 10 percent.”

    Ask then which death row DNA “exoneration” case they have had on their site, when for 8 years they knew he was denied compensation because the judge found the guilt evidence compelling.

    see

    McCARTY v. GILCHRIST , United States Court of Appeals,Tenth Circuit. Curtis Edward McCARTY, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. Joyce A. GILCHRIST, in her official capacity; William Citty, Chief of Police, City of Oklahoma City, in his official capacity; City of Oklahoma City, Defendants—Appellees. No. 09–6220. Decided: July 14, 2011

  24. Jen says:

    It’s also far more expensive for the legal system to have prisoners convicted and sentenced to death. Guaranteed appeals are expensive and a considerable cost. It’s cheaper to have someone sentenced to life in prison than executed.

    Not really a pro or con to having the death penalty per se, but I think that, in conjunction with the Innocence Project’s work definitely has played a role in changing minds about this. If it’s less expensive to put someone in prison for life AND it removes the potential for executing an innocent person, it seems logical that support for execution is declining.

  25. mattbernius says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    The facts are just the opposite. Judges love to overturn death penalty cases.

    Since 1973, we have executed 15% of those sentenced, with about 43% removed by appeals or commutation.

    Actually this is part of my point. Teve was stating that if Cunningham had not received the death penalty, he would most likely be free now. I was referring the the very high bar of review (and general infrequent level of review) non-death penalty cases receive.

    I don’t have the stats at hand, but for the entire US those sound right — though I’d love to see them adjust for states where the death penalty has remained active (I have to think that Pat Quinn’s Illinois actions skewed that number if they’re included).

    Still the point I was making was that cases where the death penalty is applied lead to far more review than normal cases.

    Given your advocacy for the death penalty (https://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.source.php?sourceID=006754), you might see that as a process virtue. I, given my biases and perspectives, see it as a broader systemic issue.

  26. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I think honoring the jurors decision is laudable, as opposed to condemning or nullifying it.

  27. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    Thank you for the correction. I mis read. My apology.

    This, also, goes to how the death penalty will discover and free innocents to a higher degree than lesser sanctions.

  28. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Jen:

    Please fact check/vet the cost studies.

    Start with California and Nevada, here:

    Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/02/death-penalty-cost-saving-money.html

  29. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Jen:

    Please fact check/vet the cost studies.

    Start with California and Nevada, here:

    Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
    at prodpinnc

    OTB does not allow active links

  30. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    I have to admit, the government does a really fine job of keeping murderers alive.

    We execute 0.2% of them and free most of them, too often, with catastrophic results.

    By far, the overwhelming problem with our criminal justice system is that we release huge numbers of bad people, with, catastrophic results and most folks seem completely oblivious.

  31. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    how’d you get an active link in? This site, so far, will not allow me too, id-ing it as spam and it vanishes.

  32. mattbernius says:

    @Dudley Sharp:
    I just pasted the URL into the body of my post. I typically don’t use the “link” option (or directly drop HTML tags into the body of my message.

    If memory serves the site is set that more than three links will automatically move something into moderation.

  33. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Scott:

    Willingham is not, remotely, innocent.

    Presume not. Know. Fact checking/vetting required.

    Rebuttal: “Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?”, David Grann, The New Yorker, 9/7/2009: Cameron Todd Willingham: Media meltdown & the death penalty
    at prodpinnc

    Overview

    Death Row, “Exonerations”, Media & Intentional Fraud
    at prodpinnc

    The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Deception
    at prodpinnc

  34. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    I went to your ipmn link.

    Are you aware of what “wrongful conviction” is?

    It’s any case that is overturned for any reason. Any.

    For example, there have been about 42% of death row cases overturned with 0.4% having proof of factual innocence.

    If you wish to confirm which of the “wrongfully convicted” have proven factual innocence, try this:

    There is an easy way for anyone to confirm this, on their own.

    Fact check/vet any reply

    Send the following to The Innocence Project

    a) How many of  “wrongfully convicted”/”innocent”/”exonerated”  have been declared “factually innocent” by a judicial or legislative body, given that responsibility by statute, with the definition of “factual innocence” being “it has been proven that the “wrongfully convicted”/”innocent”/”exonerated” person had no connection to the crimes(s)” or equivalent;  and

    b) Which of the “wrongfully convicted”/”innocent”/”exonerated” were denied compensation based upon “wrongful convictions” and/or “factual innocence”, as defined, above? and

    c) Which of the “wrongfully convicted”/”innocent”/”exonerated” chose not to apply for compensation based upon an alleged “wrongful convictions” and/or alleged “factual innocence”, as defined, above? and

    d) Which of the “wrongfully convicted”/”innocent”/”exonerated” were compensated based upon their “wrongful convictions”, whereby that “wrongful conviction” was not based upon “factual innocence”, as defined above: and

    e) Which of the “wrongfully convicted”/”innocent”/”exonerated” were compensated based upon their “wrongful convictions”, whereby that “wrongful conviction” was based upon “factual innocence”, as defined above:

    f) Can you provide government records for a, b, d and e, from which I can verify their credibility?

  35. mattbernius says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    Are you aware of what “wrongful conviction” is?

    It’s any case that is overturned for any reason. Any.

    Yup. I work in the criminal justice reform space. I am very aware of what it means. And I am not using it to necessarily mean innocence.

    I agree you are arguing something different. But you are also grinding a very tightly defined axe.

    My point was to simply demonstrate that wrongful convictions are not simply a regional occurrence.

  36. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    Thank you.

    I get a spam response with one. Ugh

  37. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    Yes, I am “grinding a very tightly defined axe”. Everybody should.

    The “innocent”/”exoneration” frauds have been epidemic, at least since 1998, as detailed

    Death Row, “Exonerations”, Media & Intentional Fraud
    at prodpinnc

    The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Deception
    at prodpinnc

  38. Dudley Sharp says:

    @mattbernius:

    You write:

    “My point was to simply demonstrate that wrongful convictions are not simply a regional occurrence.”

    I understood.

    Is there anyone, anywhere, at anytime that has stated, with criminal justice experience, “we don’t convict innocent people”.

    I doubt anyone stated it in 2000 BC in Egypt, where I believe incarceration began, or 2500 BC when sanctions are first verified, or prior when non regulated punishments, obviously, occurred, with personal and tribal problems.

    The riddle is the accuracy of the numbers, when “exoneration” frauds are flying all over the place.

  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    In death penalty cases the odds of a wrongful conviction are greater than zero. The odds therefore that the government is killing an innocent person are also greater than zero. The odds of undoing a wrongful state killing are zero. The odds of undoing a wrongful sentence of life in prison are greater than zero.

    The conclusion is inescapable. Either we are OK with the government killing innocent people or not. Allowing the government to kill innocent people in order to save different innocent people is morally depraved.

  40. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Innocents More Protected With the Death Penalty/Executions

    You left out 6 very important considerations:

    Innocents are more at risk, without the death penalty executions.

    1) Possibly, we might have proof of two innocents executed in 1915, the most recent.

    Since 1973, in the US

    2) About 21,000 innocents have been murdered by those KNOWN murderers that we have allowed to murder, again – recidivist murderers.

    3) About 500,000 innocents have been murdered by those KNOWN criminals we have allowed to harm, again – recidivist criminals.

    4) It is uncontested that the death penalty has super due process and, because of that, innocents are more likely to be found and freed than with lesser sanctions, aka enhanced due process

    Note: On average, we executed 33 per year, with 5000 dying every year, within criminal custody.

    5) Executed murderers never harm or murder, again, living ones do, aka enhanced incapacitation, Undisputed.

    6) Enhanced deterrence. Disputed, but with a large edge to death penalty/execution.

    Never has the deterrent effect of any serious sanction been negated, nor can they be,

    therefore

    Without the death penalty/execution we risk sacrificing more innocent lives.

    With the death penalty/execution we “risk” saving more innocent lives.

    Pick your risk.

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Dudley Sharp: [after 7 consecutive–and remarkably repetitive (at least to me) comments] Look, we get it. You’re one of the “grease ’em all” guys. I used to be one, too. I eventually came to the conclusion that life in prison w/o parole would keep me just as safe and allow for the possibility of correction in the 0.1% of other cases. I call that a “win-win” situation. If you don’t, cool beans; that’s why we have the freedoms we have enshrined in our Constitution.

    In any event, you made your point (for this audience member, maybe not the one you wanted to but still yours), and you can feel free to move on muttering to yourself

    liberals, you can’t explain nothin’ to ’em.

  42. Jen says:

    @Dudley Sharp: I have checked and read about this. There might be some outlying states, but, broadly speaking it is less expensive to incarcerate someone for life than it is to move through the entire appeals process to execute.

    Link, and link.

  43. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Jen:

    Jen:

    Did your reading/checking include only reading, or did you fact check/vet the claims? If not, you don’t know anything, which is why I provided the info.

    Broadly speaking, I suspect you have no idea.

    Of the ten or so cost studies that I directed you to, all of which I have fact checked/vetted, did you look at any of them?

    1,2? Any?

    I, specifically, directed you to California and Nevada. And?

    My guess, based upon your reply. You looked at nothing.

    Presume not. Know.

    Willful ignorance will, generally, not get it done.

    Come on, you can just look a two. Can’t you?

  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Dudley Sharp:
    Pick my risk? You mean, choose between a government empowered to kill citizens with no possibility of righting the wrong, and a government only allowed to imprison citizens, allowing for correction of errors?

    If the goal is risk-reduction, let’s start with removing all guns from private hands. That clearly reduces the risk of being murdered.

    Then, let’s look at treating domestic violence seriously and prosecuting and jailing offenders. Ditto threats of violence and stalking.

    There is no evidence that executions cut murder rates. As you point out: we don’t execute a lot of people, so the effect is negligible. Can you present evidence that murder rates are higher in states without capital punishment? No, you can’t. The Texas (death state) murder rate is 5.8. The New York (no death state) murder rate is 3. About half.

    There is no reasonable expectation that executions would reduce risk. Life without parole has the identical effect of removing killers from society. There is no need at all to empower the government to kill citizens, alternate remedies are available.

  45. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If you wish to play games and be unreasonable, go away.

    I listed the two risks, as is obvious. Pick one.

    Your position sacrifices more innocents. Mine saves more innocents,

    as per the 6 points, not rebutted.

  46. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Deterrence, Death Penalties & Executions

    Gross murder rates cannot be how deterrence is measured, as detailed

    see paragraph 5) Murder rates and the death penalty/executions

    from here:

    Deterrence, Death Penalties & Executions
    at prodpinnc

  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Dudley Sharp:
    You are the one being unreasonable.

    Can you prove that execution is a deterrent? No.

    Are non-capital alternatives available? Yes.

    So what is your rationale? Murderers let out early. Can that be addressed with legislation? Yep.

  48. Dudley Sharp says:

    As detailed:

    1) proved that innocents are more protected with the death penalty/execution, in 6 ways, than without the death penalty/executions

    2) I proved that, when looking, solely, at deterrence that you are willing to sacrifice more innocents and that I am willing to save more innocents.

    Pretty solid.

    NOTE: One of my replies vanished. It detailed how deterrence cannot be measured by gross murder rates. I’ll redo if I have to.

  49. Jen says:

    @Dudley Sharp: You pointed me to a pro-death penalty blogspot for heaven’s sake, the author of which clearly has his mind made up (authored by you).

    I pointed to legitimate surveys done by independent bodies. You’re cherry-picking data, using selective quotes, and coming to your own conclusions.

    Show me legitimate studies–not your assessment of the studies–and I’ll consider them. Until then, I’ll stick with what I’ve read.

  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Dudley Sharp:
    No, it’s an admission of failure on your part.

    To recap:
    1) You cannot show that execution is a deterrent.

    2) You cannot show that death penalty states have fewer murders.

    3) There is not the slightest evidence that your preferred policy will have the desired results.

    If you really want a reduction in murder rates I offered two approaches and you cannot refute either. And I pointed to an easy fix to life without parole laws that aren’t being enforced.

    I understand you wrote a blog post you’re very proud of. But you are arguing from a position of excessive fear and as a result your logic fails.

  51. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Jen:

    Jen:

    With the two links you provided, neither one of the articles fact checked/vetted any of the studies.

    You see, I read them. I care about information data and accuracy.

    My blog is, absolutely solid, and you won’t even look at it.

    I fact check/vet. You refuse to.

    You don’t care, I do.

  52. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    1) I did show that the death penalty was a deterrent. You didn’t read it.

    2) I did show that gross murder rates are not how deterrence is measured. You didn’t read it.

    3) You did not and cannot rebut my 6 points, all of which show that the death penalty/executions save more innocents than without them.

    4) All the studies ARE THERE, with my assessments, so than anyone can fact check/vet ALL the material – ALL THE ORIGINAL SOURCES THAT YOU COULD WANT

    Which is the point. You don’t.

    5) I was anti death penalty, until I fact checked/vetted the debate for two years.

    So, yes, my mind is made up, now, ONLY, because I fact checked/vetted all major points of the debate for two years.

    But you wouldn’t know, because willful ignorance appears your road.

    I never used fear, as you well know, unless you imposed it upon yourself.

    I used fact and reason, none of which you rebutted.

    I read all your stuff, btw.

    Go to a debate, where you care enough to fully invest in both sides, prior to making up your mind.

    Otherwise, you are just wasting our time.

    Thank you for your contributions.

  53. Jen says:

    @Dudley Sharp: Keep telling yourself that.

    I did look at your blog. That’s how I know that you self-refer within posts, pointing to your own conclusions in posts about your conclusions.

    Again: I’ll stick to the studies produced by large scale, internationally known, organizations who know their data will be examined by people like you, who will selectively cherry-pick items to try and further their own cause.

    Here’s another one, with plenty of data.

  54. Dudley Sharp says:

    Jen:

    It’s very easy to follow the facts on my blog,both my view, as well as that of the original work.

    There is no way you can, ever, know if something your read was credible, unless you fact check/vet it, unless you are, already and expert on that particular subject.

    My guess is you that you will realize that some day, hopefully, sooner than later.

    I cherry pick nothing. You just made that up. Unfortunate that the truth is so easily tossed away by you. Do better.

    I wish you well.

    (Just take a few minutes to look at California and Nevada)

  55. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    1) I did show that the death penalty was a deterrent. You didn’t read it.

    No, you did not. You asserted it without evidence. You argued, but you did not supply evidence.

    2) I did show that gross murder rates are not how deterrence is measured. You didn’t read it.

    Did I read the part where you simply hand-waved away evidence that you’re wrong. Yes, I did. Must be convenient simply dismissing whatever data you don’t like.

    3) You did not and cannot rebut my 6 points, all of which show that the death penalty/executions save more innocents than without them.

    No, I simply assert that your framing is incomplete. A non-quantifiable reduction – possibly as low as zero – is not an argument for a rational observer. Your six points only proved that you are a prisoner of your own motivated reasoning. Unless you can dictate the framing you cannot win your point. Widen the framing out and your argument falls apart.

    And again if harm reduction were your actual motive you’d agree that the evidence for gun control is far stronger than that for a death penalty. You reject that out of hand, because you don’t really care about threat reduction.

    4) All the studies ARE THERE, with my assessments, so than anyone can fact check/vet ALL the material – ALL THE ORIGINAL SOURCES THAT YOU COULD WANT

    We have, up and down this thread.

    5) I was anti death penalty, until I fact checked/vetted the debate for two years.

    According to your biography you began advocating for the death penalty in 2003. Given that you’ve had no success, and that executions have fallen, one would expect murder rates to have climbed. Have they climbed? Nope. In fact they are flat.

    So, you have a personal axe to grind, it’s offered you some small celebrity and some attention, and now you keep pushing it because it’s too late to admit the truth.

    And dude, spare us all the pathetic attempts at lordly dismissal. I’ve been hanging out here for about a decade. You just showed up hoping to build readership for your blog.

  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jen: @Dudley Sharp:

    My guess is you that you will realize that some day, hopefully, sooner than later.

    Be afraid, Jen. Be very afraid!

  57. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Michael:

    1) As detailed, the individual deterrent effect has been confirmed, cannot be rebutted and cannot exist without the general deterrent effect.

    It appears you did not read it.

    2) The 24 studies, finding for US based death penalty deterrence, since 1996 are pretty conclusive of the deterrent effect, of 1-18 innocents spared per execution, a wide range, expected from the soft sciences.

    Have you reviewed them yet?

    3) Nobel Prize Laureate (Economics) Gary Becker:

    “the evidence of a variety of types — not simply the quantitative evidence — has been enough to convince me that capital punishment does deter and is worth using for the worst sorts of offenses.” (NY Times, 11/18/07)

    “(Becker) is the most important social scientist in the past 50 years (NY Times, 5/5/14)

    4) Do you find that no one fears death more than life?

    5) As anti death penalty columnist Eric Zorn, of the Chicago Tribune states no one says that none are deterred by the death penalty. Guess he hasn’t met you.

    6) Do you believe that the most severe sanction is the only sanction that deters none?

    7) Why do murderers plead down to a life sentence?Yes, I know, they were not deterred, but they reflect what nearly all do, that death is feared more than life.

    All the evidence is that the death penalty is an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence.

    8) Gross murder rates cannot be how we measure deterrence.

    Why?

    States, countries and regions, both with and without the death penalty do have very high and very low murder rates, and all in between, for either death penalty position.

    If you look at neighborhoods, zip codes, towns and cities, within both death penalty and non death penalty states, you will find that each jurisdiction, small, medium and large, some will have very high murder rate, some very low and, everything in between, regardless if in a death penalty state or not.

    And guess what? Everybody know it. Even you.

    As I described, in detail and which, it appears, you never read nor surmised.

    9) All prospects of a negative outcome deter some. It’s a truism. The death penalty is the most severe negative outcome for criminals.

  58. James Knauer says:

    @Dudley Sharp: All you are asking for is permission to kill people. Since you cannot or will not do it yourself, you want government to do it for you.

    No one is your statistical piece of meat, no matter what you think they’ve done. That you require murder to feel “safe” is the red flashing warning sign.

  59. Matt says:

    @Dudley Sharp: What I find most fascinating about this dude is how he argues that the only thing that deters people is the threat of execution. Because he argues outright that without the threat of execution that laws have no deterrent effect regardless of the prescribed punishment (life without parole). So in effect laws and any punishment that doesn’t involve execution are irrelevant…

  60. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Matt:

    Matt: I have never stated “the only thing that deters people is the threat of execution.” you, simply, made it up or you’re a bit off.

    Either way, do better.

    My position is

    Positive and negative incentives affect behavior . . . with execution being the most severe negative incentive, the most severe sanction and the most feared outcome,

    and with all negative incentives, all sanctions and all feared outcomes deterring some.

    Try to understand what people have actually said, prior to responding to what they actually said.

    I have always stated that all negative prospects deter some

  61. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    correction:

    I wrote:

    2) The 24 studies, finding for US based death penalty deterrence, since 1996 are pretty conclusive of the deterrent effect, of 1-18 innocents spared per execution, a wide range, expected from the soft sciences.

    correction it is 1-28, not 1-18

  62. An Interested Party says:

    Avoiding the state-sanctioned murder of one innocent person who is mistakenly/wrongly accused is well worth revoking the death penalty in its entirety and putting actual murderers behind bars for the rest of their lives…well, at least this should seem obvious to anyone who claims to actually value human life…

  63. Matt says:

    @Dudley Sharp: It’s also cute how you think someone who is about to commit a murder actually cares or thinks about the possible punishment before committing the act. In your world a person who is so enraged they are going to commit the ultimate crime will have the thought process of “well if I kill them in this state I’ll be executed better not murder them”.. You’re ignoring human nature and the fact that the vast majority of murders are heat of the moment. Generally people kill because they weren’t thinking not because they thought it out and realized they were likely only to get life with no parole…

    Yes there are some serial killers and others that pre-planned the murder but those are the exceptions. You don’t care about exceptions otherwise you wouldn’t be advocating for the state sanctioned murder of everyone even the most likely innocent….

    This is why you have no proof that the death penalty is a bigger deterrent than life without parole. Because the difference is nonexistent.

    https://www.innocenceproject.org/the-death-penalty/

    There’s a list of innocent people who were convicted and sentenced to die before being exonerated via DNA testing at a later time..

  64. DrDaveT says:

    When Dudley showed up in this thread, I left. I figured either @mattbernius would inform me about the actual facts, or the whole thread would jump the shark.

    Turns out it was both. Oh well.

    I am repeatedly amazed by which parts of the status quo people treat as fixed, and which parts they allow to vary in their arguments.

  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Was he stumping for his own blog? I didn’t notice that. I guess that it must be because I stopped reading his posts once I figured out what his message was.

  66. mattbernius says:

    @DrDaveT: I considered wading further in but I am literally on vacation and drafting responses would take more time than I have and a physical keyboard.

    All I will note is that the deterrence effect is not remotely settled. It is primarily economists, not criminologists or sociologists, who claim to have demonstrated it. That may have far more to do with how economists view social issues than anything else. See this recent meta study:

    https://m.scirp.org/papers/67747

  67. @Dudley Sharp:

    Positive and negative incentives affect behavior . . . with execution being the most severe negative incentive, the most severe sanction and the most feared outcome,

    A huge chunk of your position assumes that human are perfectly rational is their decision-making, especially as it relates to short-term actions and long-term consequences. This is not the case. But, further, you are assuming that people who pull the trigger actually think about the potential consequences of their actions. This is an absurd position.

    @mattbernius:

    All I will note is that the deterrence effect is not remotely settled. It is primarily economists, not criminologists or sociologists, who claim to have demonstrated it. That may have far more to do with how economists view social issues than anything else.

    Indeed. Economists are often prone towards assumptions of rational calculations that other disciplines are less likely to assume.

  68. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Economists are often prone towards assumptions of rational calculations that other disciplines are less likely to assume.

    That’s more or less the argument advanced by the paper (and a good example of how ideology often guides outcomes).

    The meta-consensus of criminology and quantitative sociology is there is no lasting deterrence effect. Many economists have reached opposite conclusions (though their work has been critiqued by criminologists for not taking enough contextual factors into consideration). Anyone who is familiar with the lit will see that.

    Beyond that, I’m just not in a position to respond to a gish-gallop debating style due to being on vacation (I’m already getting side-eye’d by my spouse for writing this much 🙂 ).

  69. Dudley Sharp says:

    @An Interested Party:

    IP:

    As detailed, herein, innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

  70. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Matt:

    Matt:

    We know that criminals, as well as all other folks, do consider risk vs reward, which is why most criminals don’t go to police stations to rape and murder, folks.

    Criminals often abandon many potential crimes scenes, all the time, because they are not conducive to successful completion and/or evading detection, as I am sure you must be aware, all of which reflect deterrence.

    Deterrence, with everyone, is both conscious and subconscious, as most have been aware of, since the beginning of human behavior, as you must know.

    Read up on how and why deterrence occurs. It is a very interesting topic.

  71. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Matt:

    Matt writes:

    “This is why you have no proof that the death penalty is a bigger deterrent than life without parole. Because the difference is nonexistent.”

    First, you are smart enough to recognize that the death penalty deters. A relief.

    Secondly, we know that execution is an enhanced deterrent over life, as

    — with very rare exception, nearly all find that death is feared more than life and that life is preferred over death.

    not disputed

    — what we fear more deters more
    — what we prefer more, deters less

    Basic

    — the 24 recent studies finding for death penalty deterrence, is in the context of it being a greater deterrent than life, which is how it is detected.

    — Nobel Prize Laureate (Economics) Gary Becker:

    “the evidence of a variety of types — not simply the quantitative evidence — has been enough to convince me that capital punishment does deter and is worth using for the worst sorts of offenses.” (NY Times, 11/18/07)

    “(Becker) is the most important social scientist in the past 50 years (NY Times, 5/5/14)

    — and it continues on and on and on . . .

    Thank you for the IP material, long negated.

  72. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Steven:

    Most humans, as most criminals, are rational and even the not so rational, as I presume you know, most often, react, just as the rational do, with consideration of risk vs reward.

    That is my guide as that is reality.

  73. @Dudley Sharp: Humans, however, do not engage in risk/reward calculations with mathematical precision. Further, no human is fully rational, as emotion is an intervening variable.

    And humans, in the main, have clear problems understanding probability. Just look at how most people understand the weather forecast, or the collective inability of so many people to understand that the polling and prediction models in 2016.

    In terms of personal experience, 25ish years of teaching at the university level demonstrates that students frequently do not take into consideration the negative consequences of not coming to class or failing to do the readings.

    Human beings, as much as I would like them to be, are not rationality machines who do a good job of risk/reward calculations.

    The fact that you are using that as your “guide” and that you think it is reality is what undercuts your entire position.

  74. Dudley Sharp says:

    What do the criminologists say:

    92% of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some.

    It is a rational conclusion. All prospects of a negative outcome/consequence deter the behavior of some. It is a truism.

    61% of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies.

  75. @Dudley Sharp: Stats in a vacuum are about as useful as the phrase “four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.”

  76. We don’t live on the planet Vulcan where, I expect, all murder is logical with the probable consequences calculated to the 3rd decimal point.

  77. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I agree with your December 7, 2019 at 12:45 comment, with the exception of

    “The fact that you are using that as your “guide” and that you think it is reality is what undercuts your entire position.”

    No, it does not.

    I wrote:

    “Most humans, as most criminals, are rational and even the not so rational, as I presume you know, most often, react, just as the rational do, with consideration of risk vs reward.

    That is my guide as that is reality.”

    You presume that I don’t agree with your

    “And humans, in the main, have clear problems understanding probability.”

    I do agree.

    You, wrongly, believe that our positions are mutually exclusive, which you presumed and you were wrong. They are not.

    The 24 studies finding for death penalty deterrence, have a range of 1-28 innocents saved by the deterrent effect of executions.

    That “1-28” equals about 33-900 murders deterred per year, which is only 0.2%-5% of murders deterred per year (using an average of 18,000, 1977-2018)

    So, for potential murderers, I had already concluded what you stated and you had no reason to deny that, you just presumed, when, in fact, we agree.

    That does not preclude much higher rates of deterrence, for all other people, in all other circumstances, when risk vs reward are implemented.

    I would ask that you “know” and not presume.

  78. @Dudley Sharp:

    I would ask that you “know” and not presume.

    Look, I know you are not persuadable and that you are well wedded to your position. I do appreciate that you are trying to back your positions with evidence and stats–it is more than a lot of people ever do.

    Nonetheless, formulations such as the one I quoted above (and permutations of which pepper your comments) are not persuasive in the least and come across as pompous (to be kind).

    Beyond that, however, speaking as someone with a Ph.D. in Political Science whose work has to assume a certain level of rationality in human beings, I do, in fact, know that your reasoning is flawed.

    And I realize, again, that I am not persuading you by making that observation and that’s fine. But, please, don’t assert that your position is as an ironclad as you pretend.

    And look, if you it makes you feel any better, I am not asserting that there is zero deterrent force behind the death penalty. But, I am not convinced, as I once was, in fact, that the commensurate problems created by investing the state with that power is worth it.

    Look, forget the death penalty for murder, your own assertion above suggests that some number of criminals, once released from prison after serving time, will murder someone. Should we execute all violent criminals because we empirically know that some of them may go onto murder an innocent?

    Some number of persons who get a DUI will go on to drive under the influence again, and may kill innocents. Should we execute all who get a DUI since it will save some innocent lives?

    Heck, shouldn’t we prohibit the sale, distribution, and consumption of alcohol? That would save innocents lives, after all (probably more than executing murderers would).

  79. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Steven:

    I started out on this venture, fully anti death penalty.

    I spent two years fact checking vetting the death penalty debate, reading dozens of books, countless academic articles, fact checking/vetting them and, often speaking to the authors for clarification and ran original data sets on many of the fact issues.

    So, I, already, did change my mind.

    You having a PhD in political science makes you no more or less rational than countless other PhDs in political science or anyone else for that matter, which means folks that are irrational, rational, honest, dishonest and up to to quite wise and, every possible thing , in between, as you well know, after 25 years.

    I have already agreed to wildly different responses to deterrence and risk vs reward, as you well know, unless it did not post.

    We do not disagree on that point, as you presumed, wrongly, that I did.

    Making solid general conclusions, never, negates exceptions to them, as you know.

    Thank you for your thoughtful challenge and exchange.

  80. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You presumed “stats in a vacuum”, oblivious to where they came from, with no desire to find out.

    Academic rigor.

  81. @Dudley Sharp:

    You having a PhD in political science makes you no more or less rational than countless other

    I didn’t claim it made me more rational. I noted that my own research (electoral rules, specifically) requires having to deal with the question of how rational humans are, or are not.

  82. @Dudley Sharp:

    You presumed “stats in a vacuum”, oblivious to where they came from, with no desire to find out.

    Academic rigor.

    An important aspect of rigor, and convincing argumentation, requires citation. Your stats are presented in a vacuum. It isn’t my job as the recipient of your assertions to then figure out where they came from.

    You presented them sans context, and hence my observation.

  83. Matt says:

    @Dudley Sharp: INNOCENTS ARE AT RISK SO WE MUST EXECUTE EVERYONE INCLUDING THE INNOCENTS!!!

    The thing that blows my mind is how you’re so evil and twisted you’re fine with executing innocent people because possibly magically somehow having the state kill innocent people will save some innocent person somewhere. If you can’t see how dumb such a stance is well… You might as well be arguing to execute anyone getting a traffic violation because careless driving kills 37k people a year… Imagine the deterrent that would have and all the innocents we’d save!!

    I can’t be bothered to respond to the rest of your stupidity right now. Maybe later when I’m bored but it’s clear you don’t care because your mind is made up and you are fine with the state executing innocent people.

  84. mattbernius says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    92% of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some.

    61% of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies.

    Call. What meta studies are you referring to? Because I have never seen those numbers (apologies if you voted them earlier and I missed).

  85. Dudley Shaep says:

    Matt says I said

    “@Dudley Sharp: INNOCENTS ARE AT RISK SO WE MUST EXECUTE EVERYONE INCLUDING THE INNOCENTS!!!”

    It’s a lie, as he well knows, telling us about Matt.

    My point has been clear, stated vert clearly and not rebutted.

    Innocents are more at risk without the death penalty/execution

    Innocents are better protected with the death penalty/ execution.

    Matt’s position will sacrifice more innocents and his post labels him dishonest.

    Matt, do better.

  86. Dudley Shaep says:

    Matt says I said

    “@Dudley Sharp: INNOCENTS ARE AT RISK SO WE MUST EXECUTE EVERYONE INCLUDING THE INNOCENTS!!!”

    I never said it. Matt, simply, made it up.

    My point has been, stated very clearly and not rebutted.

    That

    Innocents are more at risk without the death penalty/execution

    Innocents are better protected with the death penalty/ execution.

    Matt’s position will sacrifice more innocents and his post labels him un truthful.

    Matt, do better

  87. Dudley Sharp says:

    Steven writes:

    “I didn’t claim it made me more rational. I noted that my own research (electoral rules, specifically) requires having to deal with the question of how rational humans are, or are not.”

    I was too quick to respond and misinterpreted. I am sorry. I will do better.

    If I understand you,

    You seem to think that I believe the constants of risk vs reward, in a rational context, and the constant of some folks being rational or others not, are mutually exclusive.

    I do not, nor have I ever, believed that. I live in the world and am, very, involved in looking at criminal behavior and hoe it effects their victims.

    Criminals may be no more nor less rational as non criminals when implementing risk for reward, but, as a rule, we all use risk vs reward and we can, all, as well, be rational or irrational, in the context of risk vs reward, “calculated” either consciously or subconsciously, rarely with mathematical precision – we are all human, meaning there will be times where we say, consciously or subconsciously. what-the-heck and move forward in spite of or absent any rational or risk vs reward input.

    My guess is that, nearly, all humans have experienced those within themselves and in their experiences with others.

    Thank you, again, you have been very thoughtful.

    I, again, apologize for my own presumptions or miscues.

    I will do better.

  88. Dudley Sharp says:

    mattbernius asks:

    What meta studies are you referring to? Because I have never seen those numbers (apologies if you voted them earlier and I missed).

    These answers:

    92% of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some.

    61% of the criminologists found some support for the deterrent effects of the death penalty through the empirical, social science studies.

    were from an opinion poll of criminologists, with no studies listed.

  89. @Dudley Sharp:

    were from an opinion poll of criminologists, with no studies listed.

    A link to the survey, which would help us understand who was sampled and how, would be most helpful in terms of assessing the evidence.

  90. @Dudley Sharp:

    I live in the world and am, very, involved in looking at criminal behavior and hoe it effects their victims.

    Could you detail your background? Your blog does not indicate what your expertise is in this arena.

  91. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As, already detailed, it began with two years of fact checking/vetting the debate, after which I switched positions, and have continued my research since, most of which is located at prodpinnc

    I will send my original findings, not at prodpinnc, as well as my CV, at your Troy email.

    This is my current intro

    The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-death-penalty-justice-saving-more.html

  92. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    THe survey, here:

    Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
    https://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/07/deterrence-and-death-penalty-reply-to.html

    more on Radelet, here:

    FULL REBUTTAL: Michael Radelet & Ben Cohen
    https://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2017/05/full-rebuttal-michael-radelet-ben-cohen.html

  93. @Dudley Sharp: The study (direct link here) you are citing comes to the following conclusion:

    In short, the consensus among criminologists is that the death penalty does not add any significant deterrent effect above that of long-term imprisonment.

    It is problematic for you to be representing it as otherwise.

    From the introduction of the piece:

    In 1996, Radelet and
    Akers surveyed sixty-seven leading American criminologists regarding
    their opinion about the empirical research on deterrence and found that the
    overwhelming majority of the experts agreed that the death penalty never
    has been, is not, and never could be superior to long prison sentences as a
    deterrent to criminal violence.4

    The research reported in this Article was designed to update the 1996
    study and assess if any recent deterrence studies have modified the beliefs
    of the world’s leading criminologists. The results indicate that only a small
    minority of top criminologists—10% or less, depending on how the
    question is phrased—believes that the weight of empirical research studies
    supports the deterrence justification for the death penalty.

  94. Dudley Sharp says:

    Steven:

    You are, rationally, in error.

    all of the “Supports”, no matter the degree, are inclusive, not exclusive (answers 8)

    “Not much effect” means some effect (answers 12), which fits well, within the 0.4% – 5% of murders deterrent, from the recent studies, that meaning 33-900 innocents saved/year.

    For me, the “Not much deterrent effect”, 33-900/yr, is a huge impact on saving innocent lives, even while recognizing it is, in fact, a tiny impact – “not much”.

    Some is inclusive, not exclusive.

    “No support’ is exclusive.

    The following is astounding, from a reason perspective:

    “92% of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some.”

    8% weren’t sure, meaning it may deter some but may not deter some, part of which means that they, actually, consider it a possibility that no potential murderer has, ever, been deterred from committing murder because of the fear of execution.

    It’s, totally, unreasoned.

    Your complaint is noted and rejected by fact and reason.

  95. @Dudley Sharp:

    Your complaint is noted and rejected by fact and reason.

    Well, in that case, considered me duly chastised.

    Your focus on the limited findings you like certainly, and utterly, proves your overarching point.

    And there is nothing at all problematic about citing a factoid you like from a study that, overall, directly states a conclusion opposite of your own.

  96. Dudley Sharp says:

    Steven:

    You have just fallen off the all-to-common academic turnip truck.

    If you don’t know what “some” means and

    if you don’t know that

    “Not much deterrent effect” means some deterrent effect

    Then your assessment is correct, if you also, find some is none and none is some, which, you have stated, you do.

    Just not rational.

  97. @Dudley Sharp: Yes, I understand the definition of some. I am not trying to negate the some. You find this particular example of “some” to be persuasive. I don’t.

    Perhaps it is your style of writing, which I find more obfuscating than enlightening, but it seems to me that you buried the lede on the study you were citing in such a way to pretty much ignore its basic thesis.

    I would note that some people think that there are space alien remains at Area 51. The fact that some people think so is not persuasive in and of itself.

  98. Let me be more direct: I am not saying, and indeed I think I said this above, that there is zero deterrent effect of the death penalty (or other penalties). I am, however, unpersuaded that said level of deterrence is worth the policy in question and I am further unpersuaded by your extrapolations.

  99. Dudley Sharp says:

    ISteven:

    Based upon your response, you don’t seem to know what “some” means.

    My extrapolations:

    “92% of the criminologists agree that the death penalty may deter some.”,

    is , completely, accurate, based upon the survey, BUT only if you understand what “some” means, which , apparently, you do not.

    and, you do not seem to understand

    “Not much deterrent effect” means some deterrent effect.

    These are not extrapolations, but represent the obvious understandings, IF one understands “some”.

    Then this:

    I never thought you were saying that there was no deterrent effect. Only idiots say that there is no deterrent effect of the most severe and feared sanction.

    What level of innocent lives saved by the deterrent effect do you think is insignificant enough not to have the death penalty/executions?

    Give me a number, 33 per year, 900/yr?

    FYI: Anti death penalty academics much prefer saving a few guilty murderers even if it was proven that the death penalty saved hundred of thousands to millions of innocents, by deterrence.

    And you? Do you have a number?

  100. Dudley Sharp says:

    Steven:

    Let’s look at what you call my extrapolations. OK?

    For question 12, the answers are
     
    2.6% deters others
    89.6% not much (deterrent) effect, which means “some”
    effect, you know, like 0.4%-5% effect, some, but very small

    92.2% find “some” deterrent effect

    That is known as simple addition, not extrapolation.

    Then we have question 8, support for deterrence based upon the empirical studies, there is

    Strong support 1.3%
    Moderate support 4.6% \
    Weak support 56.0%

    the total of which is 61.9% “support” (weak to strong) for the empirical death penalty studies, finding for deterrence, using simple addition, not an extrapolation

    Please note that there is a “no support” column, which 61.9% of the respondents rejected

  101. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    We are not speaking of space aliens, btw, but the deterrent effect of the most severe and feared sanction.

    Some academics think they’re cute. Some is not none.

  102. Dudley Sharp says:

    Steven:

    As per your request, regarding my credentials, in addition to what I have, already, stated.

    This is the report I made, in 1997, after two years of fact checking/vetting the topic, after reading dozens of books and hundreds of academic articles and with some original research.

    DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION In the United States, 10/1/97, By Dudley Sharp http://la.utexas.edu/users/jmciver/357L/2481_DP_proarguments.html

    Most of which is, updated, here, with additional topics, and which is an ongoing effort to keep all the sub topics updated. 

    The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-death-penalty-justice-saving-more.html 

  103. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    The second link, is good, but the way the site broke it apart, does not allow it to connect.

    So, straighten it out, before going to the site. Just checked, thos one works. Weird.

    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-death-penalty-justice-saving-more.html

  104. @Dudley Sharp: Ok, so you wrote a paper. That really isn’t the same as explaining your credentials.

  105. Dudley Sharp says:

    For me, it is. Just a body of work.

    In a world where highly credentialed, academic experts, totally, contradict either other during trials, with both asserting absolute certainty . . .

    Whereby peer review is finding like minded academics rubber stamping each others’ work . . .

    I rarely update and leave out quite a bit

    Partial CV — Dudley Sharp, an independent death penalty expert and victim’s rights advocate

    Mr. Sharp’s e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com phone 832-439-2113

    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, BBC and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, Oprah, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

    Partial List:

    — Guest Lecturer, US Department of State, Senior Seminar, National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Washington DC, March 30, 1999

    — Dudley Sharp: Judge Tom Price is wrong, Dallas Morning News, 12/03/2014
    https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2014/12/03/dudley-sharp-judge-tom-price-is-wrong/

    “In a recent appellate opinion, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Tom Price went on a rant against the death penalty. He was dead wrong on everything.”

    —“Equal Treatment and the Death Penalty: A Conference”; Participant, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, November 11, 2002

    — Participant, The Governor’s (Illinois) Commission on Capital Punishment. I was asked to present a paper on deterrence and the death penalty. I presented two papers — one on deterrence and one on innocence issues. 2001

    — “ABA’s Proposed Moratorium Relies on Flimsy Facts”, The Texas Lawyer, March 16, 1997. An article showing how inaccurate and misleading the American Bar Association was in their foundation in asking for a moratorium on executions.

    —- C-SPAN, Death Penalty Support, Sole Guest, NOVEMBER 28, 2005
    http://www.c-span.org/video/?190011-8/death-penalty-support

    — “Rethinking the Death Penalty”, Nightline, ABCNews, 6/22/00. Interesting discussion with former Florida Supreme Court Justice Kogan, who somehow confused the concept of alleged innocent death row inmates released on appeal with innocent death row inmates executed. http://abcnews.go.com/onair/nightline/transcripts/nl000522_trans.html

    —- “The Death Penalty”, This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, ABC News, 6/4/00 Appearance with Illinois Governor George Ryan, discussing moratoriums and innocence issues.

    —– C-SPAN, Death Penalty Moratoriums, APRIL 19, 2001, Death penalty moratorium issues, with Jane Henderson of the Quixote Center in Maryland, coordinator of the Equal Justice Project. A great show to view virtually all the false and misleading information put forward by the anti-death penalty movement.
    http://www.c-span.org/video/?163794-2/death-penalty-moratoriums

    —- “Death Penalty Update”, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, 7/30/00 PBS. A review of death penalty issues.

    —- “Do We Need the Death Penalty? Yes”, an essay, The World and I Magazine, September 2002, http://www.worldandi.com/public/2002/september/cipropub.html

    —- “Executions are justified”, OPINION, The Oklahoman, 3/31/04, http://m.newsok.com/executions-are-justified/article/1896344

    —- “The Death Penalty”, Speaker, Annual meeting of the American Corrections Association, San Antonio, Texas, 1997. Debate between myself and Richard Burr, a well known death penalty defense attorney and anti death penalty activist.

    —- “Death Penalty Debate”, between Eric Zorn, an anti-death penalty columnist with the Chicago Tribune, and Dudley Sharp. April-June, 2000. Visits many of today’s major death penalty issues in an in-depth format and is an illustration that assumption, not fact, often guide reporting on this issue, http://www.ericzorn.com/rhubarb/death/

    —- “Capital punishment is an effective way to protect innocent people”, May 27, 2000 – St. Louis Post Dispatch. Many more innocents will be put at risk by not executing. Scroll down about halfway to reach the letter http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Innocence.htm

    —- “Death on Hold?”, Fort Worth Star Telegram, 2/5/00. Why a moratorium on executions is unwarranted. http://www.startelegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:VIEWPOINT2/1:VIEWPOINT20205100.html

    —- “Innocence and the Death Penalty”, 4/16/00, Pro Death Penalty.com. An in depth look at the concern for the innocence issue. Shows that if such is really a concern, that an increase in executions will result. http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Innocence.htm

    —- “Bias on the death penalty”, Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/23/01, deals with the racial issues. http://www.timesdispatch.com/MGB5AB8IVLC.html

    — ABCNews.com, Taking Sides, essay “Exoneration Hype Exaggerated”, 5/10/00. A brief essay regarding the absence of journalistic standards when dealing with issues of innocence and the death penalty. It is the second article down. http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/TakingSides/takingsides7.html

    —- The Wrong Man, LETTERS, Atlantic Monthly. This is a response to a misleading article on the death penalty (The Wrong Man”, 11/99). The Atlantic Monthly article is representative of the vast distortions by death penalty opponents on the innocence issue. My letter reveals those distortions. AM agreed to publish a shortened version of my letter, but failed to do so. http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/Wrong_Man.htm

    —– “Innocence Defined”, THE RECORD (Bergan County, New Jersey), 11/19/99. Article which corrects the anti death penalty exaggerations regarding the reality of the factually innocent sent to death row.

    —- Testimony before the Pennsylvania State Senate Judiciary Committee, February 2000. Death Penalty Moratorium legislation.

    —- Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee, Death Penalty Testimony, July 1997. Testimony regarding referendum on the death penalty and other death penalty issues

    —- Texas Legislature, testimony in both House and Senate regarding death penalty issues and bills.

    —- “Guilty as Charged”, Wall Street Journal, A22, 6/28/00. Co-authored with Dianne Clements, an article about the highly publicized case of executed Texas murderer Gary Graham.

    —- Reply to “Executioner’s Swan Song” by Michael Kroll. Salon.com, 2/11/00. Michael Kroll is a journalist and founder of The Death Penalty Information Center, the leading information source of those opposed to capital punishment. This is a published Letter reply to Kroll’s 2/8/00 article and a correction of much of his misinformation. http://www.salon.com/letters/2000/02/11/sat/index2.html-

    —“Proffitt argument is ‘folly’ “, North Carolina State University’s The Technician, 11/29/00. A correction of many of the anti-death penalty falsehoods. http://technicianonline.com/read/tol/opinion/001967.html

    —- “Sen. Pat Leahy Dead Wrong On Death Penalty”, aka “A different look at the death penalty”, 11/11/00, Saint Michael’s College (Vermont) The MAGAZINE A correction of many false anti-death penalty beliefs as such beliefs were expressed by one of the US’s most respected political leaders (“Dying an innocent death?”, 11/9/00) http://www.smcvt.edu/magazine/Campus/feedback.htm

    —- “DEATH PENALTY AND SENTENCING INFORMATION In the United States”, 10/1/97.ProDeathPenalty.com at http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/DP.html
    This is a long report on all aspects of the death penalty. Although a bit out of date, it explores most of the false allegations against the death penalty. Much of the material has been significantly updated, elsewhere Please inquire.

    —- “Death Penalty in Black and White”, IntellectualCapital.com, 6/24/99. Visits all the various racial misconceptions of the death penalty. at http://speakout.com/activism/opinions/4010-1.html

    —- “Dissecting Bob Harris”, Mother Jones Magazine, 2/22/99. A humorous response to Bob Harris’ “Dissecting the Death Penalty”, 2/22/99. http://www.motherjones.com/toc/1999/02/letters

    —-“Society Should See Difference Between Criminal, Punitive Acts”, The Daily Oklahoman, 06/28/1997. The title is self explanatory.

    Chapters in Books

    “The Death Penalty”, pg 26,31,33, 39, 79, Current Issues, Reference Point Press, 2012

    “The Death Penalty is Just”, Dudley Sharp, p 17-15, also pages 11 & 62, The Death Penalty, Opposing Viewpoints, Thompson/Gale 2006

    “The Mentally Retarded do not Face Execution”, Is The Death Penalty Fair?, Greenhaven Press, Mary Williams editor, 2003

    “Innocent People Have Not Been Executed”, from Problems of Death, Opposing Viewpoints Series, Greenhaven Press, 2000

    “The Death Penalty Should Be Retained”, from Capital Punishment, Current Controversies, Greenhaven Press, 2000

    Death Penalty Debates

    — American University, U. sponsored, Washington, DC, 10/30/00
    —Louisiana Minority Correctional Workers Assn., Baton Rouge, La., 10/16/00
    —South Texas College of Law, Black Law Students Assn., Houston, Texas, 10/25/00
    —University of Texas Law School, sponsored jointly by The Federalist Society and The National Lawyers Guild, Austin, Texas, 4/9/01
    and many others

    For more, enter “dudley sharp” “death penalty” at http://www.google.com/search

    Position: Mr. Sharp is, now, an independent, non affiliated death penalty expert and victim’s rights advocate

    Prior to that time, he was Vice President, Political Director, Chairman of the Endorsement Committee and member of the Board of Directors of Justice For All from July 1993, when JFA was founded, through January 2000. He was Resource Director for JFA through 2003. Justice For All is a criminal justice reform organization based in Houston, Texas.

    In those positions, he was an active participant in every major issue undertaken by JFA, including policy direction, lobbying, victim’s assistance and public presentations.

    He created the process for endorsing political candidates, forming a political endorsement committee, investigating the background of candidates, developing a questionnaire used to explore the candidates true positions on criminal justice and victim’s issues resulting, finally, in a committee recommendation for endorsements.

    He is a death penalty expert, previously opposed to capital punishment.

    Tulane U., BA Philosophy 1978

    Mr. Sharp’s e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com phone 832-439-2113

  106. @Dudley Sharp: Thanks. That provides a far more complete picture.

  107. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Scott:

    You write: “The Willingham case changed my opinion forever.”

    Had you fact checked/vetted, it would have changed your opinion to “I will never believe anything the anti death penalty folks” say, UNLESS I fact check/vet, as I detailed for Teve and you can confirm yourself.

    It is a good standard, prior to changing any belief system, based upon one act.