Words matter and that matter very much in how a question is asked or a statement is made in apoll.
I suspect you may be unaware of the long
discussed issue of murder rates and deterrence.However,I appreciate the way you handled it with your - not necessarily prove or disprove correlation.
Your recognition of that should be an indicator as to how worthless aquestion or statment is, when a social scientist is trying,quite hard,to prove a correlation,which is not there.
It is truly worthless,as your own response acknowledged.
I hope the readers look at my essay and review my discussion of "crime rates"in this same context.
If the death penalty doesn't deter,then it would be the only negative outcome/consequence that did not.
My response was accurate.
Although you wrongly say I was misleading, you left out the import second half of the first question.
Here it is:
1. Do you feel that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to the commitment
to murder—that it lowers the murder rate, or not?
I left it out, because it is worthless, as opposed the the 12th question, which was not.
The first question is pathetic. Why? Because the death penalty can deter and not lower murder rates.
I was specific in my response to the first three questions of the Radelet/Lacock study, as
The first three Survey questions are specific to murder rates and deterrence. Both reason and social science have known, for a very long time, that murder rates are not how deterrence is established.
For example, look at crime rates. Some jurisdictions have high crime rates, some low - from year to year crime rates go up, down or stay, roughly, the same. In all of those circumstances, we know that some potential criminals are deterred from committing crimes by fear of sanction.
It is the same with all which deters, inclusive of the death penalty. Whether murder rates go up or down, whether they are high or low, there will be fewer net murders with the death penalty and more net murders without it.
I was not misleading. I was specific and included the first question.
As I made very clear, there is a reason the criminologists never say "The death penalty deters no one." They can't. It would be dishonest.
As I further stated "Of course the death penalty deters." But there will never be an agreement as to how much it deters.
If folks read my entire response, they will find I am not misleading, at all.
You make a common and severe error.
"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"
In addition, there have been 16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, finding for deterrence.
Here's a rebuttal to one of the critics.
Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock
It's entirely possible that Rep. Stam underestimated the negative effects of the RJA
"The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"
A different perspective
Cost Savings: The Death Penalty
Very sad no one spoke against the bill in that venue:
Racial Justice Act: Very Bad Law
Racial/ethnic bias should be taken seriously and by people of good will with honest intentions.
The aim of the Racial Justice Act (RJA) is not racial justice. The RJA's purpose is to increase cost and delay in death penalty cases, with a goal of assisting the end of the death penalty in North Carolina.
The RJA bill: Proof of racial discrimination is established if "Death sentences were sought or imposed significantly "MORE FREQUENTLY" upon persons of one race than upon persons of one race than upon persons of another race." (1)
Frequency is a measure of occurrence, not a measure of disproportionality, discrimination or measurable bias.
For example, if 10 death sentences are sought and imposed for both black and white murderers, the frequency of death sentences for each race is equal. Equal frequency can be, totally, disproportionate.
If whites had committed 100 death penalty eligible murders, yet only 10 death sentences were sought and imposed, and blacks had committed 12 "identical" (2)
death penalty eligible murders, yet 10 death sentences were sought and imposed, there would be equal frequency, but striking disproportionality.
For those truly looking for discrimination, it doesn't matter how frequently, how often or how rarely the death penalty is sought or imposed for murderers of different races/ethnicities, it only matters if it is significantly, measurably disproportionately sought or imposed based upon discrimination.
In any jurisdiction, if death sentences are sought or imposed 10 times for whites and 7 times for blacks or 10 times for blacks and 7 times for whites, the frequency is 30% less or 43% more and - voila - a claim of "more frequently" will be made and discrimination will be pronounced, even if death sentences are sought and imposed proportionately to any race/ethnicity involvement in capital murders and there is zero discrimination.
The RJA, intentionally, allows cases to be challenged and overturned based upon a definition of "discrimination" which has nothing to do with discrimination.
The RJA makes a mockery of justice and is a direct insult to those who truly wish to end racism and discrimination.
The RJA is a big, unnecessary dishonest mess.
Dead Man Walking and Sr. Prejean's Death Penalty Disinformation
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
I. Dead Family Walking: The Bourque Family Story of Dead Man Walking , by D. D. deVinci, Goldlamp Publishing, 2006
" . . .makes you realize the Dead Man Walking truly belongs on the shelf in the library in the Fiction category."
"Being devout Catholics, 'the norm' would be to look to the church for support and healing. Again, this need for spiritual stability was stolen by Sister Prejean."
The book alleges whole cloth fabrications by Sister Prejean within her book "Dead Man Walking".
"On November 5, 1977, the Bourque's teenage daughter, Loretta, was found murdered in a trash pile near the city of New Iberia, Louisiana lying side by side near her boyfriendwith three well-placed bullet holes behind each head. "
contact T.J. Edler, 337-967-0840, infogoldlamp(at)aol.com
II. The Victims of Dead Man Walking
by Michael L. Varnado, Daniel P. Smith
comment -- A very different story than that written by Sister Helen Prejean. Detective Varnado was the investigating officer in the murder of Faith Hathaway. 2003
III. Death Of Truth: Sister Prejean's new book Death Of Innocents
For some years, there has existed a consistent pattern, from death penalty opponents, to declare certain death row inmates to be actually innocent. Those claims have, consistently, been 70-83% in error. ("ALL INNOCENCE ISSUES -- THE DEATH PENALTY")
Keep that in mind with "Death of Innocents".
Readers should be very careful, as they have no way of knowing if any of the fact issues in either of the two cases, as presented by Sister Prejean, are true. Readers would have to conduct their own thorough, independent examination to make that determination. You can start here.
(a) "FOR GOOD REASON, JOE O'DELL IS ON DEATH ROW"
quote: "The DNA report commissioned by O'Dell and his lawyers actually corroborates O'Dell's guilt. There is a three-probe DNA match indicating that the bloodstains on O'Dell's clothing is indeed consistent with the victim Helen Schartner's DNA as well as her blood type and enzyme factors." "There is certainly no truth to O'Dell's accusation that evidence was suppressed or witnesses intimidated by the prosecution."
(b) "Sabine district attorney disputes author's claims in book"
quote: "I don't know whether she is deliberately trying to mislead the public or if she's being mislead by others. But she's wrong,"
District Atty. Burkett, dburkett(AT)cp-tel.net
(c) Book Review: "Sister Prejean's Lack of Credibility: Review of "The Death of Innocents", by Thomas M. McKenna (New Oxford Review, 12/05).
"The book is moreover riddled with factual errors and misrepresentations."
"Williams had confessed to repeatedly stabbing his victim, Sonya Knippers."
"This DNA test was performed by an independent lab in Dallas, which concluded that there was a one in nearly four billion chance that the blood could have been someone's other than Williams's."
" . . . despite repeated claims that (Prejean) cares about crime victims, implies that the victim's husband was a more likely suspect but was overlooked because the authorities wanted to convict a black man."
" . . . a Federal District Court . . . stated that 'the evidence against Williams was overwhelming.' " "The same court also did "not find any evidence of racial bias specific to this case."
"(Prejean's) broad brush strokes paint individual jurors, prosecutors, and judges with the term "racist" with no facts, no evidence, and, in most cases, without so much as having spoken with the people she accuses."
"Sr. Prejean also claims that Dobie Williams was mentally retarded. But the same federal judge who thought he deserved a new sentencing hearing also upheld the finding of the state Sanity Commission report on Williams, which concluded that he had a "low-average I.Q.," and did not suffer from schizophrenia or other major affective disorders. Indeed, Williams's own expert at trial concluded that Williams's intelligence fell within the "normal" range. Prejean mentions none of these facts."
"In addition to lying to the police about how he came to have blood on his clothes, the best evidence of O'Dell's guilt was that Schartner's (the rape/murder vicitim's) blood was on his jacket. Testing showed that only three of every thousand people share the same blood characteristics as Schartner. Also, a cellmate of O'Dell's testified that O'Dell told him he killed Schartner because she would not have sex with him."
"After the trial, LifeCodes, a DNA lab that O'Dell himself praised as having "an impeccable reputation," tested the blood on O'Dell's jacket -- and found that it was a genetic match to Schartner. When the results were not to his liking, O'Dell, and of course Sr. Prejean, attacked the reliability of the lab O'Dell had earlier praised. Again, as with Williams's conviction, the federal court reviewing the case characterized the evidence against O'Dell as 'vast' and
Sr. Prejean again sees nefarious forces at work. Not racism this time, for O'Dell was white. Rather, she charges that the prosecutors were motivated to convict by desire for advancement and judgeships. Yet she never contacted the prosecutors to interview them or anyone who might substantiate such a charge.
"(Prejean) omits the most damning portion of (O'Dell's criminal) record: an abduction charge in Florida where O'Dell struck the victim on the head with a gun and told her that he was going to rape her. This very similar crime helped the jury conclude that O'Dell would be a future threat to society. It supports the other evidence of his guilt and thus undermines Prejean's claim of innocence."
"There is thus a moral equivalence for Prejean between the family of an innocent victim and the newfound girlfriend of a convicted rapist and murderer."
"This curious definition of "the victims" suggests that her concern for "victims" seems to be more window-dressing for her cause than true concern."
(d) Hardly The Death Of Innocents: Sister Prejean tells it like it wasn't -- Joseph O'Dell
by Anonymous, at author's request
In lionizing convicted murderer Joseph O'Dell as being an innocent man railroaded to his 1997 execution by Virginia prosecutors, Sister Helen Prejean presents a skewed summary of the case to bolster her anti-death penalty agenda. While she is a gifted speaker, she is out of her element when it comes to "telling it as it was" in these cases.
Prejean got to walk with O'Dell into the death chamber at Greensville Correctional Center on July 22, 1997. However, she wasn't in Virginia Beach some 12 years earlier when he committed the crime for which he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. That is where the real demon was evident, not the sweet talking condemned con-man that she met behind bars. O'Dell was, in the words of then Virginia Beach Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Albert Alberi (case prosecutor), one of the most savage, dangerous criminals he had encountered in a two decade career.
Indeed,O'Dell had spent most of his adult life incarcerated for various crimes since the age of 13 in the mid-1950's. At the time of the Schartner murder in Virginia, O'Dell had been recently paroled from Florida where he had been serving a 99 year sentence for a 1976 Jacksonville abduction that almost ended in a murder of the female victim (had not police arrived) in the back of his car.
The circumstances of that crime were almost identical to those surrounding Schartner's murder. The victim of the Florida case even showed up in Virginia to testify at the trial. Scarcely a mention of this case is made in the Prejean book.
Briefly, let me outline some of the facts about the case: Victim Helen Schartner's blood was found on the passenger seat of Joseph O'Dell's vehicle. Tire tracks matching those on O'Dell's vehicle were found at the scene where Miss Schartner's body was found. The tire tread design on O'Dell's vehicle wheels were so unique, an expert in tire design couldn't match them in a manual of thousands of other tire treads. The seminal fluids found on the victim's body matched those of Mr. O'Dell and pubic hairs of the victim were found on the floor of his car.
The claims that O'Dell was "denied" his opportunity to present new DNA evidence on appeals were frivolous. In fact, he had every opportunity to come forward with this evidence, but his lawyers refused to reveal to the court the full findings of the tests which they had arranged to be done on a shirt with blood stains, which O'Dell's counsel claimed might show did not have the blood marks from the defendant or the victim.
Manipulative defense lawyer tactics were overlooked by Prejean in her narrative. O'Dell was far from a victim of poor counsel. As matter of fact, the city of Virginia Beach and state government gave O'Dell an estimated $100,000 for his defense team at trial. This unprecedented amount nearly bankrupted the entire indigent defense fund for the state. He had great lawyers, expert forensic investigators and every point at the trial was contested two to five times.
There was no "rush to justice" in this case.
O'Dell's alibi for the night of Schartner's murder was that he had gotten thrown out of the bar where he encountered Schartner following a brawl. However, none of the several dozen individuals supported his contention - there weren't any fights that night. Rather, several saw Miss Schartner getting into O'Dell's car on what would be her last ride.
But Prejean would want us to believe the claims of felon Joseph O'Dell.He had three trips to the United States Supreme Court and the "procedural error" which Prejean claims ultimately doomed him was the result of simple ignorance of basic appeals rules by his lawyers.
Nothing in the record ever suggested that Joseph O'Dell, two time killer and rapist, was anything but guilty of the murder of Helen Schartner.
Justice was properly served.
IV. Sister Helen Prejean on the death penalty
"It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical proof text in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus admonition Let him without sin cast the first stone, when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) - the Mosaic Law prescribed death - should be read in its proper context. This passage is an entrapment story, which sought to show Jesus wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment . Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking.
The sisters analysis is consistent with much theological scholarship. Also, much scholarship questions the authenticity of John 8:7.
From here, the sister states that . . . more and more I find myself steering away from such futile discussions (of Biblical text). Instead, I try to articulate what I personally believe . . . The sister has never shied away from any argument, futile or otherwise, which opposed the death penalty. She has abandoned biblical text for only one reason: the text conflicts with her personal beliefs.
Sister Prejean rightly cautions: "Many people sift through the Scriptures and select truth according to their own templates." (Progressive, 1/96). Sadly, Sister Prejean appears to do much worse. The sister now uses that very same biblical text Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone as proof of Jesus unequivocal rejection of capital punishment as revenge and unholy retribution! (see Sister Prejeans 12/12/96 fundraising letter on behalf of the Saga Of Shame book project for Quixote Center/Equal Justice USA)
V. Redemption and the death penalty
The movie Dead Man Walking reveals a perfect example of how just punishment and redemption can work together. Had rapist/murderer Matthew Poncelet not been properly sentenced to death by the civil authority, he would not have met Sister Prejean, he would not have received spiritual instruction, he would not have taken responsibility for his crimes and he would not have reconciled with God. Had Poncelet never been caught or had he only been given a prison sentence, his character makes it VERY clear that those elements would not have come together. Indeed, for the entire film and up until those last moments, prior to his execution, Poncelet was not truthful with Sister Prejean. His lying and manipulative nature was fully exposed at that crucial time. It was not at all surprising, then, that it was just prior to his execution that all of the spiritual elements may have come together for his salvation. It was now, or never. Truly, just as St. Aquinas stated, it was Poncelet's pending execution which may have led to his repentance. For Christians, the most crucial concerns of Dead Man Walking must be and are redemption and eternal salvation. And, for that reason, it may well be, for Christians, the most important pro-death penalty movie ever made.
A real life example of this may be the case of Dennis Gentry, executed April 16, 1997, for the premeditated murder of his friend Jimmy Don Ham. During his final statement, Gentry said, "Id like to thank the Lord for the past 14 years (on death row) to grow as a man and mature enough to accept whats happening here tonight. To my family, Im happy. Im going home to Jesus." As the lethal drugs began to flow, Gentry cried out, "Sweet Jesus, here I come. Take me home. Im going that way to see the Lord." (Michael Gracyk, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, 4/17/97). We cannot know if Gentry or the fictitious Poncelet or the two real murderers from the DMW book really did repent and receive salvation.
But, we do know that St. Aquinas advises us that murderers should not be given the benefit of the doubt. We should err on the side of caution and not give murderers the opportunity to harm again.
"The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers." St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.
VI. On God and the death penalty
It is not uncommon for persons of faith to create a god in their own image, to give to that god their values, instead of accepting those values which are inherent to the deity. For example, death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) states, in reference to the death penalty, that "I couldnt worship a god who is less compassionate than I am."(Progressive, 1/96). She has, thereby, established her standard of compassion as the basis for Gods being deserving of her devotion. If Gods level of compassion does not rise to the level of her own, God couldnt receive her worship. Director Tim Robbins (Death Man Walking) follows that same path: "(I) dont believe in that kind of (g)od (that would support capital punishment and, therefore, would be the kind of god who tortures people into their redemption)." ("Opposing The Death Penalty", AMERICA, 11/9/96, p 12). Robbins, hereby, establishes his standard for his Gods deserving of his belief. Gods standards do not seem to be relevant. His sophomoric comparison of capital punishment and torture is typical of the ignorance in this debate and such comments reflect no biblical relevancy. Perhaps they should review Matthew 5:17-22 and 15:1-9. Be cautious, for as the ancient rabbis warned, "Do not seek to be more righteous than your creator." (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33)
Detective Varnado writes: "For those who believe in the teachings of Sister Helen Prejean as her journey continues in her effort to abolish the death penalty. 'For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And, no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:13 & 14' " -- From Detective Varnado's new book Soft Targets; A Women's Guide To Survival
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail sharpjfa(AT)aol.com, 713-622-5491,
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-Span, Court TV, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, 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.
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