Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Death Penalty Option: I Support It

May 1, 2012 9:07 am 1 comment

The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison.

A New York Times editorial on April 27 continued the paper’s ongoing campaign over the years to end the death penalty in the United States.

The editorial points out that only 33 states retain the death penalty.  New York is not one of them.  Wikipedia notes how that came to be.  It reports:

People v. LaValle, 3 N.Y.3d 88 (2004), was a landmark decision by the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the U.S. state of New York, in which the court ruled that the state’s death penalty statute was unconstitutional because of the statute’s direction on how the jury was to be instructed in case of deadlock.  New York has since been without the death penalty, as the law has not been amended.”

The Times cites a recent report issued by the National Research Council.  The Council “has now reached the striking and convincing conclusion that all of the research about deterrence and the death penalty done in the past generation, including by some first-rank scholars at the most prestigious universities, should be ignored.”

Why?

The Times editorial continued, “A lot of the research assumes that ‘potential murderers respond to the objective risk of execution,’ but only one in six of the people sentenced to death in the last 35 years have been executed and no study properly took that diminished risk into account.”

Is it reasonable to believe that potential murderers were aware of the statistic that most death penalty sentences were not being carried out?  I, having a scholarly interest in the topic, was not aware of this fact.

Putting aside deterrence, supporters emphasize a second reason for continuing the death penalty:  society needs to show its moral outrage at particularly heinous crimes, such as the one committed in Connecticut in July, 2007.  That crime involved the brutal raping of a 48-year-old woman and one of her daughters.  Both daughters, one 17-years old and the other 11-years old, were tied to their beds and perished when their house was set on fire.  The two men apprehended and convicted of the crimes in separate trials were sentenced to death.  Last week Connecticut’s governor, Dannel Malloy, signed a law abolishing the death penalty in that state.

Amazingly, after the incessant campaign by death penalty opponents, an October, 2011 Gallup Poll showed that 61 percent of Americans still support the penalty, down from an all-time high of 80 percent in 1994.  I remain one of those who support the death penalty and, as of this moment in time, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision finding the death penalty constitutional remains the law of the land.

I do not believe there is a single case in the U.S. where academics and law enforcement authorities agree that an innocent person has been put to death.  Yes, innocent people have been convicted at trial, but as a result of appeals, they have been exonerated before the sentence was carried out.  Even if opponents were to cite such a case, I would still support having the penalty available as an option in particularly heinous murders.  The reason being that many more innocent lives would be saved because of the deterrence factor.

Death penalty opponents always claim racism in the meting out of the penalty, conveying that blacks and Hispanics are victims of that racism.  What they rarely state is that while proportionate to the population whites commit fewer murders than blacks and Hispanics, they receive the death penalty in greater numbers.  The cry of racism by the opponents really stems from the contention that the murderers of minority victims are given prison sentences to a greater degree than death sentences, whereas the murderers of white victims are more likely to be given death sentences.

Those opponents don’t urge that more minority murderers of minorities be given the death penalty in larger numbers upon conviction, but rather that no one suffer that penalty.

Also, did anyone at the Times editorial board consider what the effect on the murder rate in the U.S. might be if instead of one in six executions being carried out, six in six were timely executed and reported on the front pages of the Times and other papers?

Death penalty opponents certainly have the right to express their views as they have successfully done for many years, causing a reduction in support for the penalty.  Regrettably, their editorials have frightened many in the public from speaking out in favor of retaining the death penalty for fear of being labeled racist when such a charge is manifestly unfair.  I hope those “first-rank scholars at the most prestigious universities” supporting the death penalty (I don’t recall the Times referring to their opinions in its prior editorials) will now speak out.

I also hope that other death penalty supporters get involved in this discussion.  Don’t be frightened into silence.

1 Comment

  • Mary Hrabowska

    Yes, I support the death penalty for terrorists (I’m personally one of the 9/11 victim, and do not see so far anybody paid for that crime) and for other especially heinous crime. The accusation of “racism”, “islamofobia”, etc. is completely unsupported, in view of the statistics. I hope that at last people in NY will open their eyes.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    JNS.org – Nine months ago, Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine, were schmoozing about the “vibrancy of Tel Aviv and soul of Jerusalem,” as Lane put it. They dreamed about how they could bring young and innovative millennials to the so-called “start-up nation.” From April 3-7, Forbes turned that dream into a reality. Israel played host to the first-ever Forbes Under 30 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) […]

    Read more →