The Death Penalty - a Defence

Chapter 4 

Various contributions

1: Statistics and investigations a) Investigations concerning deterrence b) Investigations concerning costs c) Are many innocent people sentenced to death?

2: About public executions

3: When the Death Penalty becomes unacceptable

4: Conventions and protocols

5: Should organs be taken from executed criminals?

6: The abolitionist’s alternative – lifetime without parole

7: Amnesty International

 

STATISTICS AND INVESTIGATIONS

When the capital punishment is dealt with it is common that the abolitionists refer to different investigations in order to try to support their own belief. Their investigations are then consistently interpreted to their own advantage.

At a closer look one soon finds that one can not draw categorical conclusions based on the statistic that is most often quoted. Statistics often is ambiguous and unreliable, and especially the criminal statistics since in this area there are many complex factors to consider.

a) Investigations concerning deterrence

The discussion of how much the death penalty deters, and if it is more deterring than a long prison sentence has been around for a long time. Both sides have referred to statistics and have made their own interpretations. The abolitionists see a threat in the possibility that the death penalty could be an important instrument of deterrence and they do everything to dispute that this would be the case, sometimes by referring to certain investigations.

First it should be noted that the question of how much the death penalty deters is not a question that science, based on statistic credibility, can answer. It is a question that finds its answer based on common sense, logic, sound judgment and experience.

The most important conclusion that can be drawn from the statistic investigations that have been made is that they scientifically neither can prove or disprove that the death penalty has an important role in deterrence.(1)

The abolitionists gladly point at several investigations made in the USA that supposedly confirms the hypothesis that the death penalty does not deter.(2) But then it is of utmost importance to know that none of these investigations are able to prove that the death penalty does not have a strong effect of deterrence. It is misleading to claim anything else. Statistics can on the other hand not give exact information of how many violent crimes and murders that have been avoided because of the general preventative effect of the death penalty.

Sometimes the abolitionists point out that states in the USA without death penalty often has lower frequency of murder (per 100.000 population) than states with death penalty. We should then be aware of that most states without death penalty only have few inhabitants (8 of 12 has fewer than two millions) and with very few big cities. But there are states without death penalty which have considerably higher frequency of murder than some states with death penalty. Among states without death penalty Michigan with 9,9 millions inhabitans is the very largest. And Michigan’s frequency of murder is much higher than most of the states with death penalty, also higher than Texas, the state with most executions. (The frequency of murder in Michigan are 6,7 per 100.000 population [2001]. Sweden, with a population of 9 millions, have 2 murder per 100.000 population.)

Here can be mention that the US capital: Washington DC, with no death penalty, have 41 murder per 100.000 population (2001)! There is extremely few cities in the USA with such a terrible high frequency of murder.

Abolitionists can sometimes refer to countries who have abolish the death penalty without any increase of the frequency of murder, and come to the conclusion that the death penalty is not especially deterrent. But supporters of the death penalty can refer to other countries who have abolish the death penalty and where the frequency of murder have risen, or refer to countries with death penalty with a very low crime rate (for example Singapore and Japan).

But from a scientific point of view neither is right. The movement of the crime rate curve is dependent upon hundreds of factors/variables, not just one. Scientific reliable conclusions can not be reached by crime rate curves, diagrams and statistics. The causal connection is too complex and the opportunities of interpretations are vast.

Let us, for example, assume that in a country they introduce the death penalty and that this means that in a year 30 people are deterred from committing murder. But at the same time other factors, such as increased unemployment and increased drug abuse, result in 70 more murders than the average of this year. The statistics will then show an increased murder frequency. The enemies of the death penalty may then, lacking in judgment, call out that this proves that the death penalty does not deter from murder. But the reality and the truth is the opposite. Without the death penalty there would have been 100 more murders than the average.

The death penalty variable always means deterrence and less severe crimes and a less brutalized society, but at the same time other variables may mean that the overall criminality may increase.

Abolitionists in spite of that like to refer to statistics that seem to show that the death penalty does not have a considerable deterrent effect. But we, the supporters of the death penalty, could easily claim the opposite by also giving some examples:

We can say that when England and Wales abolished the death penalty in 1965 the murder-rate curve went up in a significant way.

We can say that when South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995 (in times of peace) the crime-rate curve shot sky-high.

We can mention Houston, Harris County (pop. over 3 mill.) in Texas, the most active execution jurisdiction in the USA. And the murder rate there has fallen 73% since executions resumed in 1982: from 44/100,000 in 1981 to 12/100,000 in 2000. That decrease is without parallel in the USA.

We can refer to the crime-rate curve of the USA, which dropped during the whole 1990’s at the same time as the rates of executions increased.(3)

We can refer to the professor Isaac Ehrlich’s (abolitionist) very debated and noted investigation where he reached the conclusion that every execution that was carried out between 1933-67 in the USA probably prevented 7-8 murders.(4)

We can refer to professor Stephen K. Layson’s investigations where he found that somewhere between 8,5 to 28 murders were prevented in the USA by every execution that was carried out between 1934-84. (Layson’s investigations have received approval by the American Department of Justice.)

We can refer to Kenneth A. Wolpin’s investigation concerning England which supports the deterrence theory,(5) and to Stephen Layson’s investigation concerning Canada which supports the deterrence theory,(6) and to professor David P. Phillips who in an investigation shows that the death penalty has, in the week surpassing the execution and the weeks following, has a deterrent effect(7) and to professor H. Naci Mocan's and professor R. Kaj Gitting's new investigation which concluded that each execution in USA deterred and prevented additional five or six homicides,(8) and to professor Roberto Marchesini's and professor Dale Cloninger's investigation in connection to the temporary moratorium in Texas 1996. They reach the conclusion of a significant deterrent effect. And so also their investigation in the year 2005 about the moratorium in Illinois.(9)

The most comprehensive investigation ever in the USA were publish in January 2001, by the two professors H. Dezhbakhsh, P. Rubin and by J. Shepherd. Their results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect. Their conclusion is: "In particular, the execution of each offender seems to save, on average, the lives of 18 potential victims. This estimate has a margin of error of plus and minus 10." Click here and read the investigation (pdf file).

Read here about surveys which claim deterrence in the death penalty. And read here from two professors about these investigations who claim deterrence.

But all of these investigations, whether they try to prove that the death penalty is strongly deterrent or not, are always met with more or less justifiable criticism. And this is because methods and results show flaws and are often based on estimations and that they therefore are unable to give the whole complex reality. Statistics and investigations can therefore only deliver more or less tenable hypothesizes.

All of this means that the abolitionist’s hope and trust in science for their hypothesis that the death penalty is not strongly deterrent must be failed. Other arguments are required if one wants to claim that the death penalty isn’t strongly deterrent or that it does not deter more than a long prison sentence. The burden of proof lays on the abolitionists.

Until then we may boldly assume from the reason, the common sense, the experience,(10) and from the understanding of the majority which is that the death penalty deters more people from committing severe crimes than what a prison sentence ever will.

Yet, when it comes to the USA it is scarcely probable that the death penalty is strongly deterrent. And that because it is very rarely that a heinous criminal is executed. No one has to be especially afraid of a death sentence in the USA, not even the one who has committed murder.

For this reason investigations concerning this issue made in the USA are not very relevant since in the USA the prerequisite for the death penalty to be strongly deterrent are missing.

First when the USA begins to apply the death penalty in a more consistent manner and without unreasonable delays, then the investigations and statistics on the subject "deterrent or not" will become more interesting.(11)

b) Investigations concerning costs

It is sometimes claimed based on investigations made in the USA, that it would be much more expensive for society if the capital punishment was introduced. But this must be rejected. The USA’s economically burdened legal practice with, for instance, many appeals, sky-high lawyer´s fees and trial costs, and the death sentenced inmates waiting for many years on "death row" (the prison where the death sentenced inmates wait for the execution) is in many ways unique and of course nothing that any other country has any reason what so ever to implement. There is nothing that says that the costs in European countries would even get close to that in the USA. Every comparison with the USA is untenable. Abolitionists who try to scare with high costs are delivering misleading and non-relevant propaganda.

Every country has the advantage that based on the example of the USA take hold of what is good and bad and thereby have the ability to avoid a legal trial practice with sky-high costs. If a developed state introduces the capital punishment there should be no considerable difference in legal practice from the severe crime trials of today. It is true that we are suggesting compulsory appeals and new trials, but this is very common today in severe crime trials. The trial cost itself, at severe crime trails, should basically be about the same whether a developed state uses the capital punishment or not. Today there is hardly anyone who claims that murder trials in developed European states commonly are unfair, arbitrary or lacking in legal security.

There is therefore no reason to drastically change legal practice even if the capital punishment was to be introduced tomorrow in a modern state. What should be compared financially is everything that happens after a convicting trial. No one should have to doubt then. It would probably be a considerable economical difference if a European country introduced the capital punishment. A death sentence verdict would mean a few months in prison for the convict (calculated from the verdict of the second trial until the time of execution) and the cost of that. And then the cost of the execution itself. This should be compared to a lifetime without parole sentence and the cost that that would mean for the taxpayers.

And even though capital trials would be an economical burden for society, it is only a sign of health. Since a death sentence is irrevocable the level of legal security must be somewhat higher during capital cases than for other severe criminal trials. Yet we are convinced that there are, for instance, in European countries no reason to doubt that capital cases would be less costly in comparison to lifetime, and that without decrease of the legal security.

c) Are many innocent people sentenced to death?

The abolitionists sometimes refer to investigations to try to show that many innocent people are sentenced to death and executed. But there are no scientifically tenable proof or facts from any developed state where they use the capital punishment to support this statement.

It is often referred to an investigation that claims that over 400 people in the USA, from the beginning of the 20th century until 1991, have been innocently sentenced to death. Of these 23 are claimed to have been executed. The number 23 is often presented as fact by, for instance, Amnesty International and is probably a statement that belongs to the most widely spread abolitionist propaganda. The number is misleading. It is not an independent commission that has reached the number 23, but it is an assumed and very arbitrary and subjective number from one of the world’s most dedicated death penalty abolitionist.

The investigation has also received heavy criticism from lawyers at the American Department of Justice who dismiss both the methods as well as the conclusions of the investigation.(13) Everyone who knows this but still refers to this as though it were fact is guilty of deliberate manipulation.

It should be close to impossible for an outsider to know for sure if anyone at any time has been innocently executed. In order to be able at all to make a first judgement one would need access to all of the trial material, and preferably be present at the trial and have the ability to be able to judge new facts and material. It does not inspire confidence when abolitionists based on subjective, nonprofessional and unfounded conclusions sometimes reject the verdicts of serious trials.(14)

As far as we know, in the USA it has during this century extremely rarely happened that a court of law that has sentenced a person to death afterwards has become convinced that the executed person was innocent. This does not prove anything of course, but this should be brought forth against the ones who claim that "many" innocent people have been executed. We would like to have tenable proof, and we are not interested in assumptions and possibilities, but proof that would stand up in a new court trial. The whole burden of proof lays on the abolitionists. Everything is speaking for the fact that in countries that have a developed judicial system the number of innocent people being executed is nearly non-existent.

ABOUT PUBLIC EXECUTIONS

In a time where there were neither TV sets nor radios, and not everyone was able to read, there may sometimes have been good reasons to have public executions. But there are examples in history that shows us how public executions have been turned into distasteful spectacles.

If the capital punishment is introduced in a country every coming execution will be thoroughly dealt with by the media. The day of the execution will be carefully monitored.

But a limited form of public execution should be accepted. It is, for example, reasonable for the crime victims and the relatives of murder victims to be offered to be present at the execution. That gives the relatives the possibility to be reconciled with their feelings and maybe even reconcile with the convict. It may also be invaluable for the convicted ones to have a last meeting with the afflicted party. The door of forgiveness and reconciliation must be left open for all parties until the end. Further some politicians, journalists and some common citizens should be allowed to be present. Together they represent the community. The collective community, which indirectly has been affected by the deed of the perpetrator, will through these representatives, be able to witness the execution and see justice be served.

The capital punishment is a concern for all of society. The crime meant an attack against the most foundational values in the community and at the same time a sort of war against the body of society as such. Therefore the society must be represented and present when a death sentence is carried out in order to, on the behalf of all citizens, receive restoration and have their dignity and humanity confirmed once again. And with that it is not only an authority, the state governed by law, but also the people who administrate justice. The people confirm and partake in the punishing role of the State. But everything has to be done under orderly forms.

But today there are no strong reasons for general public executions with the society present. It would be too costly and lacking in control and could easily loose its purpose. On the other hand it could be considered to afterwards show chosen parts of the execution on TV, with a statement of the crimes committed by the death sentenced criminal.

More important than public executions is that a country that uses the death penalty consistently informs its citizens about what crimes could have the death penalty as a consequence. Beginning in the compulsory school, all students should receive basic information about legal practice and what crimes imply the death penalty and why this is used and imposed. All immigrants and refugees need also to receive the same information. If a people, while growing up, are constantly taught law and order and hear that the society has the right to sentence people to death for certain crimes it is possible that some, even for this reason, will deter from committing heinous crimes.

WHEN THE DEATH PENALTY BECOMES UNACCEPTABLE

Just like dynamite can prepare ground for hospitals, houses, roads and tunnels, dynamite can also be used in a destructive manner when placed in the hands of aggressive dictatorship regimes. The judicial system can be mistreated and misused and then everything, including the punishments, will become something offensive. This will also be the case with capital cases if, for example, the level of proof is low, if the defence is deficient, if there is no chance of appeal, if the poor are given deficient legal security, if a verdict shows clear signs of racism, if religious or political convictions are reasons for a death sentence, if it is imposed when dealing with less severe cases or if it is imposed on insane people.

Legal practice also deserves criticism if death sentenced inmates are made to be in prison for many years waiting for the verdict to be carried out. That mistakes are made and improprieties happen is unavoidable. But if the abuse has a serious character and at the same time is frequent or even used systematically, then the capital punishment becomes an unacceptable instrument of justice.

This means that the capital punishment may only be accepted and used in countries where the legal system is well developed. And in principle the same are of course the case when it comes to other penaltys.

CONVENTIONS AND PROTOCOLS

It happens that countries sign binding conventions and protocols where the purpose is to abolish or never again reinstate the death penalty. In order for a country to become a member of, for instance, the Council of Europe there is the demand of the abolishment of the death penalty. And the European parliament demands of countries that wish to join the EU to abolish the capital punishment.

In the last decades especially in Europe it has been a massive push through recommendations, treaties, protocols and resolutions with the purpose to complete abolish the death penalty. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 and the European Convention on Human Rights from 1950 are worthy to be defended by every generation. But some other smaller resolutions and additional protocols to these two great ones are rightly questionable.

One of these is Protocol No. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The protocol came into force in 1985. Article 1 as follows: "The death penalty shall be abolished. No one may be condemned to death and no one may be executed." (Exemptions are made at an imminent threat of war or at war.) Most countries in Europe have ratified the protocol. A protocol that so in detail makes a stand – not to a scientifically established truth – but to a philosophical, moral, religious, political and social issue as the death penalty can not be accepted. No protocol can for all future declare an absolute truth concerning the capital punishment for future generations. Every country and every generation must independently, according to common democracy rules, decide the being or non-being of the death penalty within the judicial system. The protocol is therefore a straitjacket that has been forced on the people of Europe.

It is unacceptable that leaders from some European countries, by signing a protocol, are able to command all future European governments to think about the death penalty as they who ruled in 1985 happened to think about it. Consciously they wanted to control the future generations thoughts and minds to always have the same belief and view concerning the capital punishment as they did. The protocol must be considered null and void by all future governments and generations.

Investigations constantly show, in almost every country, that there is a strong support among the people for the death penalty. Therefore the protocol signature of governments has no real support among the people. On the contrary this happens behind the back of the people and without them being able to state their opinion. It is a group of loud and active people who have driven this, and behind the curtains there is a smell of abuse of power.

Besides, in modern Europe it has hardly been based on reasons of justice or facts or on philosophical or existential reasons why counties have chosen to ratify protocols that imply the abolishment of the death penalty. It is not unreasonable to assume that money has been one of the main reasons for countries that have sought fellowship with the Council of Europe and membership in the EU. When cold and hard greed is looming for the government of a country the question of the capital punishment is something that one wishes to get rid of quickly and quietly and preferably without people knowing about what is happening.

But these protocols can naturally not be considered binding for future generations. Every generation in every country must have full freedom to form the state governed by law based on a democratic process. One of the main things is that questions concerning crime and punishment must have a wide support among the people. Democracy must always be given precedence over resolutions and protocols signed and maybe also ratified by governments.

Abolitionists can sometimes call it brave when governments consciously stamps on the will of the people and sign binding protocols that forbid the use of the death penalty. But the course of action used by these governments is the same as when the dictatorship of a country ignores the will of the people in order to get their will through by using methods of force. And such things we usually don’t call brave but dictatorship, disrespect and something that goes against the spirit of democracy. A democratic government is supposed to be the servant of the people and not an arbitrary ruler.(17)

We therefore condemn resolutions and protocols that bind the people of the future in undemocratic chains and thereby make the process of making democratic decisions founded on justice harder in the future. "Each nation should decide for itself through democratic processes whether its domestic law should permit capital punishment in accordance with international law." U.S. Ambassador George E. Moose

In August 29, 2002, the ambassador Stephen Minikes told the OSCE Permanent Council the U.S. position: "... the issue of whether a State imposes the death penalty is a political issue each nation has to decide for itself. In the United States, under our Constitution, individual states are permitted to make that decision. It is an issue, as we have repeatedly said, with respect to which reasonable people disagree. The debate and divergent points of view, however, continue. We believe, therefore, that in a democratic society the criminal justice system, including the punishments prescribed for the most serious crimes, should reflect the will of the people, freely expressed and appropriately implemented. We recognize that many countries have abolished the death penalty under their domestic laws; however, in the United States, our open and democratic processes have led to a different result." Source

SHOULD ORGANS BE TAKEN FROM EXECUTED CRIMINALS?

First it should be reminded that a death sentence means that the State in it’s sovereignty has taken the power over the violent criminal or the murderer, and so have lost his absolute autonomy. It is now the State who in principle have right to that which is about the life and death of a person sentenced to death. The criminal is in the hands of the state governed by law and do not have any obvious right to get his own will fulfilled in what matter his own body the minutes before execution.

* * *

It shall be admitted that there are problems about to take organs (and tissues) from executed. Yet, it should earnestly be considered if it should not be of value for the society to sometimes taken organs from executed and give to needed. The question is if not the advantages is weigh more heavier than the disadvantages?

There is a great want of organs and many sick peoples have died prematurely because they did not receive the needed organs. To take organs from some executed should not in any way supply the great need that exists, but it could be to aid for some.

From the aspect of justice it is also a pleasing thought that some violent criminals or murderers must atone for their cruel deed with their own dead, but also in the same time by giving life to others. The capital punishment should then, to a greater extent, come to stand both in the service of life and justice. Presumably some sentenced to death should also, especially those who are remorseful, not oppose to helping others in connection with their own dead.

The procedure itself should begin with anaesthetizing, as with a usual operation, continue with the surgical operation, and ended with a measure that ended the life. The concluded part, the procedure that leads to the death, that is the execution itself, should by that not be needed to be performed by nursing staff.

Of course, it should not be possible that taking of organs from executed could be made a system of, and neither let it be done automatically. Many criminals sentenced to death, maybe the most, should not even be suitable by different reasons, especially medical. Nevertheless, if there is no possibility to take organs and give to sick peoples it could instead sometimes be reasons to take organs for science of medicine and teachings. The whole procedure should of course be surrounded by strict rules of laws. (Here we ought to call attention to the trade of organs which sometimes occurs in China. That trade is unacceptable both from an ethical and medical view.)

To take organs from some executed could mean that the capital punishment will save even more innocent lives. First of all, the executions in itself means that criminals can no longer commit new acts of violence against innocent persons. Secondly, the taking of organs means that some seriously ill people will receive life and health. This taken together is making it very tempting to answer yes on the question of the headline.

THE ABOLITIONIST'S ALTERNATIVE – LIFETIME WITHOUT PAROLE

Since the abolitionists readily claim that the capital punishment would be a crime against "the human rights" and that it would be inhumane, we will glance at one alternative that they sometimes speak of, that is a real lifetime sentence without parole or leave, for those who have committed the most heinous crimes.

Such a lifetime sentence, without leave or parole, would have as a positive side that it would considerably reduce more violent crime (recidivism). Yet, still there is the risk of inmates and staff being victims of violent crimes. That risk can never be completely eliminated. Neither can the risk of escape. 

Then one must ask if a punishment that means a lifelong unpleasant experience and without hope of freedom makes the "right to life" worth much for the convicts? If the "right to life" for them becomes a lifelong existence in an inner darkness and pain it is more likely that such a right will be experienced as a scorn by many of them. If life is not lived, what kind of life is it? 

And since a 40-70 year prison sentence (depending on when the convict dies) would be experienced as a lifelong suffering by many, one wonders how the abolitionists may defend such a punishment towards Article 5 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forbids "torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"? 

And how do the abolitionists defend the humanity against a lifelong lack of freedom and the pain that it causes? Such a lifetime sentence would, by many convicts, be experienced as a downright inhumanity. And how do the abolitionists defend such a lifelong sentence unpleasantly against the inviolable human value? Many convicts who are broken, both physically and mentally by such a prison sentence would experience it as a severe violation of their human value. And how can the abolitionists defend such a punishment considering that other human rights would be denied or strongly prohibited, for instance the right of freedom (article 3) and the right of ownership (article 17)? 

Some abolitionists are aware of this and advocate for a tolerable and fairly comfortable lifetime sentence. But not even then can we completely avoid the questions above. Just this thing of being deprived of one’s liberty some inmates may experience as violating "torture". And more, what happens to justice and the principle of punishment if one sentenced to lifetime are offered such a lenient lifetime sentence? How can all the nice times that such an inmate experience be defended with consideration of all the slaughtered victims of crime? How do they motivate that the most brutal of all violent criminals and murderers deserve such a kindness? How do they motivate an imposition that is in no way in proportion to the nature and cruelty of the crime? 

However the abolitionists try to find a balance between a harsh and a lenient lifetime punishment there are unsolvable problems created for them based on the human rights and the questions of justice. Furthermore, both alternatives are a financial burden for the society. 

We supporters of the death penalty do not see the death penalty or the lifetime sentence (without leave or parole) as a crime against the human rights or the inviolable value of mankind. (Neither do The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) The punishment must mainly be considered in view of the severity of the crime. 

But abolitionists claim that the death penalty is a crime against the human rights and against the inviolable value of mankind. This can then easily be refuted by stating that basically the same arguments that they use against the death penalty can be used against the lifetime sentence that they advocate. (Also many other arguments that the abolitionists bring forth against the death penalty may be used against the lifetime sentence.) Therefore they are faced with insurmountable problems in trying to explain how their lifetime sentence, what ever it looks like, can be defended from the perspective of the human rights that they claim to defend, and from the perspective of justice. 


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Amnesty International, which was founded in 1961, performs a great humanitarian work in the world. Mainly for those who are persecuted, oppressed, imprisoned or tortured because of political or religious reasons. They deserve all support for these things. But Amnesty is not flawless. On the death penalty issue Amnesty has chosen to stand on the wrong side. 

From the beginning there was no resistance against the capital punishment in the Amnesty program. It was not until 1971 that Amnesty began to seriously work against the death penalty all over the world. Then they eagerly began to defend the right to life of the violent criminal, murderers and torturers.

There is something deeply irrational in Amnesty’s understanding of morality and justice. On the one hand they are concerned with those who are being exposed, imprisoned and tortured. But on the other hand they care for the life of the sadistic murderer and they can encourage their members to send post-cards to those in authority to try to influence them and if possible save the lives of these cruel murderers from the death penalty. Through different campaigns they regularly activate their members to show love for the lives of the ruthless violent criminals. 

In the book "Guds moral" (1997) the Swedish author and philosopher Thomas Anderberg writes that he left Amnesty when there was a demand on the members to plead for those who had been convicted of murder. He writes (page 27): "The pen slipped out of the hand one day when the chosen were Stephen Jody, who had raped and killed two children in front of their mother, the emperor Bokasa who was guilty of, among other things, cannibalism, and Idi Amin’s chief executor…" 

 It does not inspire confidence when Amnesty so anxiously advocate this dogma about the death penalty. Amnesty has to get rid of this fundamentalist attitude. Amnesty should admit that it is also possible to speak in favor of the capital punishment based on humane and civilized values. 

The fact that Amnesty so eagerly works against the death penalty is one of the reasons for the drastic reduction of the number of members in the USA. From the second half of the 80’s Amnesty in the USA has lost 100,000 members (according to Amnesty Press in Sweden, 2-97).(19) 

Amnesty International could be a shining star on the night sky over our world. But its unreasonable rage against the death penalty has made the star shine with a decreasing and colder light.


To CHAPTER 5

Footnote 1. Serious death penalty abolitionists can also admit this with all clarity. Roger Hood, for example, is forced to admit, after giving an account of, among others, the often quoted Thorsten Sellin’s investigation: "All of these studies have undoubted methodological shortcomings. They cannot provide ‘proof’ of the absence of a deterrent affect. " The Death Penalty, 1996, page 192 (However, he maintains that such studies have a strength in themselves.) When it comes to older and newer studies that try to look at whether the time around an execution had a deterrent effect or not, Hood writes: "They had too many flaws for much confidence to be placed in them. Recent attempts to improve the methodology have led to conflicting results and controversy… Certainly, evidence from such short-term studies should not be used to sustain the contention that executions either raise or depress the rate of homicide in the long run. " The Death Penalty, 1996, page 193, 196. And the abolitionist Charles L. Black writes: "If an effect were observed … then one could not at all tell whether any of this effect is attributable to the presence or absence of capital punishment. A ‘scientific’ – that is to say, a soundly based – conclusion is simply impossible, and no methodological path out of this tangle suggests itself." (Quote from The Death Penalty in America, Hugo Adam Bedau, 1997, page 200.) Even the Supreme Court of America states that there is a lack of evidence in this issue; see special article in the Menu. 

Footnote 2. The lawyers Stephen Markman and Paul Cassel notes: "To be sure, some statistical surveys, often conducted by opponents of the death penalty, have found no such (deterrent) effect. A detailed review undertaken by the Department of Justice concluded, however, that few, if any, of these studies relied on rigorous methodologies of adequately controlled for many variables that affect the homicide rate in the jurisdictions under consideration." Stanford Law review, November 1988, page 154. The following, by Prof. Walter Berns, should also be noted: "… what is beyond question, I think, is that most studies of deterrence were undertaken by criminologists who were inveterate opponents of capital punishment, and their opposition … may have influenced their work." For Capital Punishment, page 92. 

Footnote 3. If it was the opposite, that the crime rate curve turned upwards despite an increased execution rate, the abolitionists would probably once again see a "proof" that the death penalty does not deter. However, we need to point out that the crime rate curve during this timeframe had dropped also in some states where the death penalty was not used. All this is of course due to the fact that the movement of a crime rate curve is dependent upon many reasons, of where the death penalty is only one. 

Footnote 4. The American Economic review 65 (1975). Ehrlich’s study has been met by criticism which Ehrlich powerfully answers in The Journal of Legal Studies, June 1977, Fear of Deterrence. Ehrlich’s study also contributed to make the USA Supreme Court in 1976 to work for the death penalty in agreement with the Constitution. (See also the article by Ehrlich in the Journal of Political Economy, 1977, Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence.) 

Footnote 5. The American Economic Review, Capital Punishment and Homicide in England, 1978, page 422-27. 

Footnote 6. Canadian Journal of Economics, 1983, Homicide and deterrence: another view of the Canadian time-series evidence. 

Footnote 7. The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment: New Evidence on an Old Controversy, 1980, American Journal of Sociology. This study could be a sign of that a consistently accomplished practice of the death sentences would save many lives. Abolitionists may do everything in their power to avoid this kind of conclusion. For instance, McFarland’s study, 1983, showed that after the execution of Gary Gilmore the murder frequency dropped for a few weeks. But he rejects the thought that it would have anything to do with deterrence but tries to claim that it depended upon the unusually hard winter conditions at the time. The Death Penalty in America, Hugo Adam Bedau, 1997, pages 145-46. (This is one example that every study, every crime rate curve, every statistic, can be interpreted (and manipulated?) based on the belief and attitude one holds.) 

Footnote 8. H. Naci Mocan is chairman in "the economics department at the University of Colorado at Denver" and is also a research associate at "the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in Cambridge, Mass." From webarticle 20 Januari 2002 in Washington Post, Page B05. Read here the investigation (pdf file). 

Footnote 9 "Execution Moratoriums, Commutations and Deterrence: The Case of Illinois." Professor Dale O. Cloninger and Professor Roberto Marchesini. Link. 

Footnote 10. A small and interesting ‘example of experience’ may be taken from the USA. Some criminals avoided to rampage in certain states that had the death penalty and chose to carry out their criminal activities in a state that does not have the death penalty in order to avoid eventual death penalty if they were arrested. (Stanford Law Review, November 1988, page 154, note 205.) 

Footnote 11. "Even restricting the calculation to those murders which are statutorily ‘death eligible’ the probability of being sentenced to death is only about 1 to 10, and of being executed between 0.6 and 1.25 per 100." Roger Hood, The Death Penalty, 1996, page 184. Between 1977 and 1992 there were approximately 339,000 murders committed in the USA, but only 188 executions. That is about one (1) execution per 1800 murders. 

Footnote 13. By Hugo Adam Bedau, In Spite of Innocence, 1992, (Michael L. Radelet, Hugo Adam Bedau, Conctance E. Putnam.) He can even confess concerning these 23: "We agree with our critics that we have not ‘proved’ these executed defendants to be innocent; we never claimed that we had." Stanford Law review, November 1988, page 164. (This was an admission from an earlier edition of his book.) 

Footnote 14. Stephen Markman, Paul Cassel, Stanford Law Review, November 1988, page 121f., 128f. (Their criticism is concerning an earlier edition of Bedau’s book.) One should also know that the average year of the execution of these 23 people was 1929, i.e. a time where the legal practice and legal security was still defective in the USA. And even if one of these 23 was innocently executed, the probability of this happening today is small. (See Stanford Law Review, November 1988, page 147f., and The Death Penalty in America, Hugo Adam Bedau, 1997, page 255-56, quote from the conclusion of the United States Supreme Court). Concerning the statement of the 400 innocently convicted to death this is a subjective judgement made by Bedau. Safe conclusions can not be drawn from old criminal cases, something that he himself also admits, page 274: "Once the defendant is dead, the best source of evidence is gone … as time passes, the possibility of continuing an effective investigation slowly disappears." Thereby his own investigations and subjective conclusions are undermined. In the mentioned book (page 345ff) we can also read that 48 people have been released from "death row" since 1973 "with significant evidence of their innocence". This information should, generally, be seen as a positive sign of the increasingly improving law and order in the USA. 

Footnote 17. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, in article 21:3, that "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government ...". It is tragic that the contempt of such a foundational "right" is so widely spread especially when it concerns the death penalty. 

Footnote 19. One should know that as a member of Amnesty one pledges to support the demand of a total abolishing of the death penalty around the world.