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writing for godot

Quotes on Why We Should Abolish the Death Penalty

Written by RS Janes   
Saturday, 24 September 2011 01:37
In light of Troy Davis’ recent execution for murder based on perjured testimony, it’s worth restating that he United States, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Japan are the only civilized nations on earth that still practice capital punishment, and the most zealous Christians in this country, who constantly preach about the sanctity of life and the fallibility of the human race, are also the most ardent advocates for the death penalty as imposed by a jury of imperfect people. Try to wrap your mind around that galactic hypocrisy as you read these quotes. These so-called Christians should also be frequently reminded that the central figure of their religion was a poor man 'fairly' convicted under the laws of the time and legally executed by the state.

“[R]ace of victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e., those who murdered whites were found to be more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks. This finding was remarkably consistent across data sets, states, data collection methods, and analytic techniques.”
– The U.S. General Accounting Office, “Death Penalty Sentencing: Research Indicates Pattern of Racial Disparities ...” (Feb. 1990).

“Perhaps the bleakest fact of all is that the death penalty is imposed not only in a freakish and discriminatory manner, but also in some cases upon defendants who are actually innocent.”
– Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., 1994.

“I have yet to see a death case among the dozen coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial... People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty.”
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg, current U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

“It would be one thing if we could say the system works [in Illinois], and that individuals followed procedures and were found innocent, but in fact in all the cases it was really a fluke ... We find persistent wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement. It’s really sheer luck that those convicted of these [capital] crimes were exonerated in the end.”
– Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

“People say that executing criminals does not take away from their dignity – if it is done with dignity. But the fact of the matter is that whether you’re waiting to die by lethal injection – waiting ... for the poison to flow down your veins – or waiting for a bullet, or waiting for a rope, or waiting for gas, or waiting for the electric current – there is no difference: there is no lesser or greater dignity in dying. The practice of the death penalty is the practice of torture. And by the time people I have been with finally climb into the chair to be killed, they have died a thousand times already because of their anticipation of the final horror.”
– Helen Prejean, author of the book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States.”

“If we believe that murder is wrong and not admissible in our society, then it has to be wrong for everyone, not just individuals but governments as well.”
– ibid.

“When people of color are killed in the inner city, when homeless people are killed, when the ‘nobodies’ are killed, district attorneys do not seek to avenge their deaths. Black, Hispanic, or poor families who have a loved one murdered not only don’t expect the district attorney’s office to pursue the death penalty - which, of course, is both costly and time consuming - but are surprised when the case is prosecuted at all.”
– ibid.

“I have come to think that capital punishment should be abolished.”
– Jack Kemp, conservative Republican and Bob Dole’s vice presidential running mate in 1996.

“Society may protect itself without putting a human to death as it would a wild animal. Since we believe each person has a soul, and is capable of achieving salvation, life in prison is now an alternative to the death penalty.”
– Richard Viguerie and Brent Bozell, both conservative Republicans and Tea Party supporters.

“The reality is that capital punishment in America is a lottery. It is a punishment that is shaped by the constraints of poverty, race, geography and local politics.”
– Bryan Stevenson, an attorney for Death Row inmates.

“Can the state, which represents the whole of society and has the duty of protecting society, fulfill that duty by lowering itself to the level of the murderer, and treating him as he treated others? The forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process. And I believe that future generations, throughout the world, will come to agree.”
– Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat and Secretary General of the United Nations 1997-2007.

“It should be clear that the death penalty does just the opposite of promoting decency and respect for life. It dehumanizes people and promotes murder. It can never be applied fairly.”
– John Morrison

“With every cell of my being, and with every fiber of my memory, I oppose the death penalty in all forms.... I do not believe any civilized society should be at the service of death. I don’t think it’s human to become an Angel of Death.”
– Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1986.

“As if one crime of such nature, done by a single man, acting individually, can be expiated by a similar crime done by all men, acting collectively.”
– Lewis Lawes, warden of New York state’s Sing Sing prison in the 1920s and ’30s.

“Judicial execution can never cancel or remove the atrocity it seeks to punish; it can only add a second atrocity to the original one … So long as one sees killing as wrong there is no need to waste time with the deterrent argument, since it would be nonsense to try to prevent a theoretical evil in the future by perpetrating an actual one in the present.”
– Auberon Waugh, British author and journalist.

“The sentence of the first murderer was pronounced by the Supreme Judge of the universe. Was it death? No, it was life. ‘A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth’; and ‘Whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ “
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Table-Talk” (1857).

“Government ... can’t be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of its citizens to kill.”
– Helen Prejean, author of the book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States.”

“It’s not bad people I fear so much as good people. When a person is sure that he is good, he is nearly hopeless; he gets cruel -- he believes in punishment.”
― Clarence Darrow

“When once a certain class of people has been placed by the temporal and spiritual authorities outside the ranks of those whose life has value, then nothing comes more naturally to men than murder.”
-- Simone Weil (1910-1943).

“Justice is open to everyone in the same way as the Ritz Hotel.”
-- Judge Sturgess on the US justice system.

“Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”
-- Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis in “Olmstead vs. United States”.

“It is well-nigh obvious that those who are in favor of the death penalty have more affinities with murderers than those who oppose it.”
-- Remy de Gourmont

“When you use murder to end murder you guarantee murder will never end.”
-- Richard Sherricky

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
-- Attributed to both Norman Mailer and Holly Near.

“Do I need to argue to Your Honor that cruelty only breeds cruelty? That hatred only causes hatred; that if there is any way to soften this human heart which is hard enough at its best, if there is any way to kill evil and hatred and all that goes with it, it is not through evil and hatred and cruelty; it is through charity, and love, and understanding?” [...]
“I am pleading for life, understanding, charity, kindness, and the infinite mercy that considers all. I am pleading that we overcome cruelty with kindness and hatred with love.
“I know the future is on my side.”
― Clarence Darrow, from his closing argument in the 1924 Leopold and Loeb ‘thrill murder’ case.

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