Streams

America and the Death Penalty

Monday, December 20, 2010

David Garland discusses why capital punishment continues in dozens of American states despite the abolition of the death penalty elsewhere in the Western world. Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition looks at its uneven application, legal challenges, and the uncertainty surrounding it don’t seem conducive to effective crime control or criminal justice.

Guests:

David Garland

Comments [12]

Dr. Michael Blankenship from Boise, ID

Professor Garland touched on several important topics. One of particular interest is the end of capital punishment in the U.S. Pressure continues to mount on states to have effective crime control policies. Capital punishment is not effective in this regard, but is prohibitively expensive. So the likely scenario is that one by one, states will abolish the death penalty because of cost, concern over wrongful convictions, misconduct by police, prosecutors, etc., and the impact of race and social class. But external pressure is also mounting. The majority of the world has abolished this failed policy. As the U.S. becomes more involved in other countries economically, and vice versa, political pressure applied by the UN and the EU, in combination with the internal pressures, will spell the end of capital punishment.

Dec. 22 2010 06:19 PM
Dr. Michael Blankenship from Boise, ID

Professor Garland touched on several important topics. One of particular interest is the end of capital punishment in the U.S. Pressure continues to mount on states to have effective crime control policies. Capital punishment is not effective in this regard, but is prohibitively expensive. So the likely scenario is that one by one, states will abolish the death penalty because of cost, concern over wrongful convictions, misconduct by police, prosecutors, etc., and the impact of race and social class. But external pressure is also mounting. The majority of the world has abolished this failed policy. As the U.S. becomes more involved in other countries economically, and vice versa, political pressure applied by the UN and the EU, in combination with the internal pressures, will spell the end of capital punishment.

Dec. 22 2010 05:55 PM
Dudley Sharp from houston texas

in 2004 the murder rate in the US was 5.5. in Europe it was 5.4

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

Dec. 22 2010 01:23 PM
Dudley Sharp from Houston Texas

in 2004 the murder rate in the US was 5.5. in Europe it was 5.4

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

Dec. 22 2010 01:22 PM
Dudley Sharp from houston texas

did Garland really say that the US had a murde rate 6 times higher than Europe?

It looks like the EU has a murder rate of about 3 or so, just looking at all the countries separately.

And the US rate is 5.

That would be 1.7 times, not 6.

Anyone know the exact murde rate of the EU?

Dec. 22 2010 01:07 PM
Dudley Sharp from Houston Texas

contd

Footnotes


1) "Death Penalty Support Remains Very High: USA & The World"
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/07/death-penalty-polls-support-remains.html

2) 25 recent studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm

3) "A Broken Study: A Review of 'A Broken System' "
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/10/broken-study-review-of-broken-system.html

4) "The 130 (now 139) death row 'innocents' scam"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx

5) Garland was referencing a review that didn't look at all the costs and stated that it didn't include all the costs. With one exception, this one appears to.

See Background Information, page 2, Fiscal Impact Statement, Legislative Services Agency,
http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2008/PDF/FISCAL/HB1074.004.pdf

Costs per case
$758, 243 for death penalty
$657, 028 for LWOP

However, this excludes the credit of savings for plea bargain to LWOP, which I suspect saves at least $20, 000 per case, solely attributed to having the death penalty.

That would bring the differential down to about $80,000 - the death penalty and LWOP cost amounts are already present valued.

$738, 000 for death penalty (inclusive of LWOP plea credit cost savings, solely attributable to having the death penalty)
$657, 000 for LWOP

The death penalty is 12% more than LWOP

Dec. 22 2010 12:21 PM
Dudley Sharp from Houston Texas

contd

It may be the case that a majority of citizens in every country support executions for some crimes, based upon the proposition that such sanction is a morally just and proportionate sanction for the crime(s) committed, the foundation of support for all criminal sanctions.

The insult here is that Garland believes that governments ban the death penalty because they know better, that they are wiser than those whom they govern, similar in fashion to the dictatorial judges who confound the law, as reviewed. In fact, it is simply a product of Garland's bias, with no evidence to support it and a false sense of parental superiority guiding it.

4. Predictably, Garland says "it stretches credulity to think that the death penalty, as administered in the United States today, can be an effective means for deterring murder".

Note, that Garland's hedge is "effective", which he can define in any manner he wishes.

Of course the death penalty deters. All prospects of any negative outcome deter some. There is no exception.

Let's say that only 0.5% of murderers are deterred every year because of deterrence. It is a very small percentage of murders deterred, but huge in terms of lives saved, about 90 innocents saved per year, on average, since 1977, noting an 18,000 murders/yr. average during that time.

Is that effective, enough, for Garland? Probably not. For many against the death penalty, it wouldn't matter if a thousand lives were spared per execution because of deterrence, they would still seek its end.

Of the recent (since 2000) 25 studies finding for deterrence, there is a range of deterrence detected, between 3 and 28 lives spared per execution (2), with an average of about 30 executions per year, since 1977, which equates to about 90-900 innocents spared per year because of deterrence.

Garland states that "66 percent have their death sentences overturned on appeal or post-conviction review. He needs to fact check. It is 37%. (3)

Garland states that "a smaller number -- 139 -- have been exonerated in the past 30 years". Fact checking is definitely not Garland's thing. The 139 exonerated is well known fraud and easily uncovered by anyone who cared to fact check. (4)

5. Of course the death penalty works. Everyone who has been executed has remained dead.

Garland states: "An Indiana study last month showed that capital sentences cost 10 times more than life in prison without parole."

Not surprisingly, Garland didn't fact check that story either. It is about 12% more expensive not the 1000% (10 times) that Garland found. (5)

Garland closes: "Getting past the myths and looking at how the death penalty actually operates is one place to start. "

How would he know?

contd

Dec. 22 2010 12:20 PM
Dudley Sharp from Houston Texas

The 5 Myths of Prof. David Garland - death penalty
Dudley Sharp

It is difficult to say if Prof . Garland is just sloppy or if, like many in academia, he is happy to peddle bias in service of a goal, here, an end to execution.
("Five myths about the death penalty", By David Garland, July 18, 2010, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/16/AR2010071602717.html)

Lets' look at Garland's myths:

1) Garland fails to mention that it is the judges that make the imposition of the death penalty all but impossible in some jurisdictions. Dictatorial judges in New Jersey never allowed an execution. There, the death penalty was repealed. Pennsylvania judges never allow executions other than those whereby the inmates waive appeals. If you appeal a death sentence in Pa, you have a life sentence, even if your death sentence is not overturned. Similar abusive judicial behavior is legendary in California.

The death penalty in Virginia? Inmates are executed in 5-7 years after sentencing, 65% of those sentenced to death have been executed and only 15% of death row cases are overturned on appeal. The national averages for those are 11 years, 13% and 37%, respectively.

The difference is in the judges.

Victim survivors in death penalty cases are knowingly and unnecessarily tortured by such irresponsible and callous judges, as in NJ, Pa and Ca and others, nationwide.

Garland gives the false hope that by replacing the death penalty with a life sentence that we can avoid these problems. All states are, now, looking at ways to release lifers, early, for overcrowding and cost issues.

Instead of the abusive performance of judges in so many death penalty jurisdictions, cases, abuse which should be stopped, those murder victim survivors would then be served a recurring theme of releasing those lifer murderers of their loved ones.

The same legal challenges that have been used for years to restrict death penalty applications, are now being repeated in challenging life sentences. Pro death penalty folks have been stating that pending course for years and it is now in full swing. Murderers serving life sentences can appeal for life.

2 and 3. Yes, fortunately, American democracy is stronger. Even in Europe, the collection of countries whose governments are most opposed to the death penalty, the majority of their populations do support the death penalty for some crimes (1). Those governments could care less.

contd

Dec. 22 2010 12:17 PM
Dorina Lisson (ACADP) from Melbourne, Australia

The death penalty is flawed, capricious, discriminative and racist, which has been proven time and time again to be riddled with legal errors. The USA is invited to join the civilized nations of the world by abolishing this very expensive, barbaric, brutal, cruel, degrading, inhuman and uncivilized state-sanctioned act of vengeance.

Penalty United Nations:

United States of America, Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua, Barbuda, Benin, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Central African Republic, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, North Korea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tonga, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Dec. 22 2010 02:29 AM
ellenb from NYC

this was an excellent guest, tho depressing topic true. In fact repugnant. But the guest was an expert, gave objective, clear, non lurid info, and gave a lot of context and facts on this in sociological context, which is always informative. I wonder if the U.S. will ever become less violent, both it's criminals and it's govt. and maybe a more humane and intelligent. Why are other countries so much more advanced??? But it was shocking hear France used the guillotine until the 1970s??? Can't believe it.

Dec. 21 2010 12:52 AM
Steve from Long Island

The fact that Texas, Iran, Singapore and China just love the death penalty indicates that the U.S. needs to ban it.

Dec. 20 2010 01:47 PM
Stuart Anthony

Mr Lopate - Love your show, listen daily. But it is Christmas week - can we cheer it up a little??!! I don't want to hear about the death penalty - I am about to leave " on vacation" for a week with my family - isn't that depressing enough???!!!
Happy holidays!!

Dec. 20 2010 01:38 PM

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