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Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Feingold on The Death Penalty This Week

As many of you know, Wisconsin had a referendum campaign to bring back the death penalty in 2006. Although the referendum barely passed, it was only advisory and it should not get through the legislature or the governor's office. The death penalty in Wisconsin is on the back burner and it should be left there forever...

That does not mean that anti-death penalty advocates should sit on their laurels in Wisconsin! The death penalty needs to be abolished in this country for good. It is cruel and unusual punishment as evidenced by the general concensus of the international community. Only the most dangerous regimes in the world continue to kill their own citizens...

I have 20 more reasons the death penalty is really bad, from inequities and failures in our justice system to the cost to the state, but one in particular is a myth that cannot be overlooked.

Most disturbing is that in the US, we continue to believe that for some reason killing someone by chemically paralyzing them and stopping their heart is somehow "less cruel". It is not.

Many lethal injections are "botched". This term is a bit of an oxymoron in this case since the point is to kill, but lethal injection is tricky at best. The American Medical Association forbids doctors from participating (First do no harm...) and this leaves the job to untrained prison personnel. Different weights and tolerances to medications makes it a guessing game for untrained people to figure out how much of each medication to give and a process that at most should take 5 to 10 mins has in many cases taken 45 minutes to an hour with the victim screaming for mercy and that "it hurts"...

I'm writing this to thank Senator Feingold for making this statement. It's important that we as a society move away from revenge, an emotion that is only destructive, and towards reconciliation and forgiveness. This does not mean that people who do really bad things cannot or should not be removed from society for part or all of their lives, but it does mean that as a society, we should be better than their horrible actions not stoop to their level. Most faiths teach this. Most of us teach this to our children.

Senator Feingold has been a leader on this issue and it's time for the Congress to act on his proposed legislation. We should not leave this to the courts, they may or may not rule on the side of life. Democrats, Independents and Republicans in Congress should be able to come to the table on this though and get something done in 2008. Something that would show the world that it IS a new day in America and that real change is in the air.

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ FeingoldOn the Supreme Court Case on the Constitutionality of Lethal Injection
January 7, 2008
"As the Supreme Court effectively halts executions nationwide to consider the constitutionality of lethal injection, we should take the opportunity to address just how deeply flawed the implementation of capital punishment in this country is. Racial disparities, convictions based on bad evidence, and grossly inadequate indigent defense systems are among the compelling reasons why state-sponsored executions have no place in a nation based on equal justice under the law. The recent abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey and the American Bar Association's call for a nationwide moratorium are positive signs of increasing support for ending the death penalty."
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), a longtime opponent of capital punishment, is the author of S.447 - the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act.# # #


Dr. Michael Blankenship said...

There is no reasonable doubt that the death penalty is bad public policy. As this week's Time magazine article pointed out, what policy can only be successful 3% of the time, cost millions of dollars, and still survive?The death penalty survives on ignorance, pandering, and the exercise of state power.

dudleysharp said...

Dr. Blankenship may be a bit ignorant on this topic.

The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
Living murderers, in prison, after release or escape or after our failures to incarcerate them, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
This is a truism.
No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
That is. logically, conclusive.
16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses,  find for death penalty deterrence.
A surprise? No.

Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.
What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is  compelling and un refuted  that death is feared more than life.

"This evidence greatly unsettles moral objections to the death penalty, because it suggests that a refusal to impose that penalty condemns numerous innocent people to death." (1)
" . . . a serious commitment to the sanctity of human life may well compel, rather than forbid, (capital) punishment." (1)

"Recent evidence suggests that capital punishment may have a significant deterrent effect, preventing as many as eighteen or more murders for each execution." (1)
Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
Reality paints a very different picture.
What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
Furthermore, history tells us that "lifers" have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.

In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.

6 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA evidence.  An additional 9 were released from prison, because of DNA exclusion, who had previously been sentenced to death.

The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers -- The New York Times -- has recognized that deception.

"To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . ". ' (2) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can reasonable conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.

Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
Full report -  All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.

Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request
(1) From the Executive Summary of
Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs, March 2005
Prof. Cass R. Sunstein,   Cass_Sunstein(AT)law.uchicago.edu
 Prof. Adrian Vermeule ,   avermeule(AT)law.harvard.edu
Full report           http://aei-brookings.org/admin/authorpdfs/page.php?id=1131
(2) "The Death of Innocents': A Reasonable Doubt",
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA 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.
Pro death penalty sites 


yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2 (Sweden)

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