executive director of The Death Penalty Information Centre ..

Dulles, Chief Justice Earl Warren, no friend of the death penalty, said:

DPIC | Death Penalty Information Center

Andat the time it was implemented, most nations who signed it had the had the death penalty andcontinued to use it long after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights wasapproved by them.

In 1994, a Seguin jury assessed him the death penalty for the abduction-rape-murder of 28-year-old Colleen Reed, an Austin accountant.

Campaign to End the Death Penalty

It implies there is something more inhuman and barbarous, than the mere extinguishment of life."There are those who insist that the Constitution does not support the death penalty.

35:31, 33) Christians who oppose the death penalty in deserving cases tend to subordinate the justice of God to the love of God.

At the conference my empirical overview was the first formal presentation. After I finished, I sat quietly and learned from the experts in attendance. At the general discussion that ended the conference, I decided to ask a question that had been nagging me the whole time on an issue that none of the speakers had addressed: “If we knew that the death penalty deterred murder, wouldn’t the Church have to support it? Hasn’t the Church always taught that public officials have an obligation to protect the innocent and to promote the common good, as long as they use legitimate means? And hasn’t the Church always taught that the death penalty is a legitimate form of punishment for murder and other heinous crimes?” As Edward Feser and I maintain in our recent book (Ignatius, 2017), that question about deterrence and Church teaching on capital punishment is as pertinent today as it was when I asked it fifteen years ago.

It is a major part of the debate, as well as reflecting on the constant innacuracies of anti death penalty bishops and priests.

Scalia Once Pushed Death Penalty For Now-Exonerated …

Now, there is no denying that John Paul II did believe the death penalty was necessary, except in the rarest of cases, to defend public order and ensure the people’s safety, else he could not have lent his powerful voice to the abolition movement. But this conclusion was a prudential judgment, not a doctrinal one, and implicit in this judgment was the presumption that the death penalty does not deter murder. To be clear, the doctrinal principle at issue the serious consideration of deterrence, but the pope’s conclusion that lesser punishments will equally well secure public order and the people’s safety simply the potential deterrent effect of punishing murderers with death.

States and Capital Punishment - death penalty - …

Examples such as these powerfully refute the claim that the death penalty never deters. Though many large-scale empirical studies have purported to find a substantial deterrent effect (as we detail in our book), others have challenged these findings, and among quantitative social scientists the issue remains unresolved. But this should not surprise us at a time when executions per year (51 between 2000 and 2015) are dwarfed by homicides per year (15,600 during the same period). Even if each execution saved 5-10 lives (a midrange for the studies that reported deterrence), the total number of lives saved would amount to only a few percent of all homicides. It is simply not likely that social scientists could discern such a statistically small effect, especially when year-to-year changes in homicides are driven by a host of social conditions independent of punishment practices: drug use, gang wars, economic conditions, immigration patterns, etc. Yet, even a small deterrent effect (say in the range of 2-3) would have saved several thousand lives from the nation’s 1,465 executions since 1977. And of course if the death penalty does deter, it would save more lives if it were used more often.

Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

It was around the time I was preparing for the conference that one of my students said in class, “Well, I am Catholic, so I am against the death penalty.” This came as a bit of a shock. I had been raised on the venerable and had attended a Jesuit high school and college in the 1960s; so I knew that that the Church taught that the state had the right to impose the death penalty for heinous crimes. I respectfully corrected the student, informing him that the Church had always taught the principled legitimacy of the death penalty. He responded that that was not what he had learned in his own Catholic education. This set me to the task of learning more about whether anything had changed (or could change) in the Church’s teaching.


As we show in our book, criminals often behave much more rationally than is usually thought. It is well documented, for example, that during plea negotiations with their attorneys and prosecutors, killers will often choose to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a life sentence rather than risk conviction and a death sentence at trial. Also, as part of the “deal” some admit to other unsolved murders or lead authorities to the bodies of victims. Acting rationally, some murderers choose life in prison and cooperation with authorities over the prospect of eventual execution. We also know that only a tiny fraction of those sentenced to death (perhaps 4% or less) “volunteer” for the death penalty by prematurely ending the appeals process (though sometimes after many years of appeals). Thus, nearly all of those sentenced to death would rather live out their lives behind bars than face execution. Even sadistic killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered sixteen young men and boys in Wisconsin between 1978 and 1991 (and another in Ohio), invested considerable time and effort in planning his abductions and concealing his crimes. For example, he avoided potential abductees who had automobiles because he knew that abandoned cars would likely lead police to suspect foul play and launch an investigation. He also took great pains to dispose of the remains of many of his victims.