Thursday, August 23, 2007



On Wednesday August 22nd, at 6:20 p.m. the State of Texas executed Johnny Conner, the 400th execution for Texas since 1976. What a sad day it is when one state in this country has made it to that benchmark.

400 lives lost. 400 lives extinguished from existence because we continue to believe that killing them will teach others not to kill. 400 families mourned those 400 lives. Can anyone dispute this? Many out there would like to dismiss those families and remain solely concerned with the families of the victims. Aren’t both families’ victims? Can we not feel for the family of a killer who is killed? I know I can. What about the cases where a husband killed a wife, or a mother killed a child, those families are forced to relive that pain once more.

400 times the State of Texas has killed an individual in the name of every citizen in that state. Texas has almost 21 million people and 400 times there were death certificates with cause of death “homicide” issued in the name of those 21 million. Pain is pain. Suffering is suffering. What will it take for that to end? The killing of innocents, the mentally retarded and the mentally ill apparently has no effect. Will it take 1000 executions for people to stop and realize that this can no longer go on? I pray that it does not and that these numbers and statistics that represent the dehumanization of human beings will someday come to an end.

Comments :
There are a growing number of studies suggesting that the death penalty deters crime. If those studies are correct, the death penalty is a good thing. (Of course we all wish that we lived in a society where there was no murder.)

Funny how much melodrama you can muster Ike for the 400 dead killers. Those 400 killers represent a lot of victims. You barely mention them.

Texas has three more executions scheduled for this month. Three more incidents of final justice. It won't be long before Texas hits 500 executions, nor will it be long before Virginia, the second leading death state hits 100. Oklahoma will hit 100 relatively soon as well.

Overall, in the US this year, we are likely to surpass the 53 executions carried out last year. With some luck, we can exceed 60 executions. That would be 60 killers we don't have to feed, provide medical care for or worry about killing a guard or anyone else.

Pretty soon, Missouri and Ohio are going to start back up. We'll see about the feds--AGAG has done a good job filling up federal death row. Florida has a large backlog, which will be cleared soon enough.
Regarding the studies:

And yes, I am aware that the huffington has a liberal slant, but you should check out that article, it makes some solid points. I'm not a scientist or a researcher, I don't know if you are, but I'd rather let experts do the talking.

400 dead killers you say. Funny how you seem to completely disregard the possibility and factuality that some of those 400 were innocent. I think the families of Ruben Cantu, Carlos De Luna, and Todd Willingham might have something to say about that. You can read about them here:

I suppose you don't think it is possible that we have killed innocent people. I suppose you also don't think that abolitionists care about the victims. Everything is not black and white, although you seem to believe that. Why can I not feel for the families of one that is murdered by another individual as well as one killed by the state? I hope someday you will understand that.
Anonymous is a scary person to me.
I am amongst those weekly who anonymous condemns so brutally and they are nothing like anonymous. They have hearts of compassion for those whose lives they are a part of crushing.
They live daily with the memory of what they were a part of and can't believe it themselves. Then there are those who didn't even do it and are living a nightmare trying to figure out why people like anonymous are not trying to help them but instead have condemned them to death and even sadder are the mentally ill that don't know what they did and don't understand what they are facing.
God have mercy on us all but especially on those like anonymous who have no compassion. And mercy on his family. They have to be a sad bunch to be around!
Anonymous 1 - the deterrence crutch is pure non-scientific crap. TCASK, you should update your text before posting execution alerts with live links. Saying that Harbison is scheduled to die in February in your text makes you look unprofessional. Well, are you?

Anonymous helps define our movement. Mostly what he does is try to bait us into confrontation but that's ok, though a little tiring if we remotely take the bait.
We know where he's coming from and he's chosen to spend time here as a contrarian rather than join folks of his way of thinking.
Sometimes it's easier to fight than to be positive and work for something.
We're working to abolish the death penalty. we're working to change a flawed public policy that fails on every level. That's a fact.
Somehow I suspect that the folks on anonymous's cause's blogs would not be as civil if we were to troll over there.
Anonymous has compassion and he/she has a heart and just like a death row murderer, that heart can change and repent.
Civil? Saying that my own family must dislike me is decidedly uncivil.

In any event, with respect to deterrence, there are peer-reviewed studies which suggest deterrence. I don't pretend to have the answers on that, as I think it's likely unprovable, but I digress.

As for the innocents executed, I think there are issues with people who claim that all of those guys were factually innocent.
Thanks for pointing that out! I'll fix that on Saturday, we really need to update all of our case summaries actually.

Yes, TCASK offices work Saturdays!
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All those guys anon?

Did you actually read the story of those three, please read it if you haven't.

And this is only 3 individuals, I hope that you don't think I was implying that there was a whole boatload of innocent least I hope not or else the system is even further screwed up than I realized.

Although 124 exonerees to 1093 executions seems a little troubling to me.
I'd always thought that the concept of a deterrent meant that if it ever had to be used, then it would have failed.

So, by that reckoning capital punishment has failed in Texas in 400 (and counting) instances to date.
Mr Anon,
I am sorry that you think I said your family does not like you. That is not what I stated at all.
I just said that it would be a sad bunch to be around if you are always so negative.
I have been like you and I didn't even like being around myself. Once I figured out what my problem was I fixed it and now I am much happier and see the world, good and not so good people a lot differently.
Just hope you never have to be slapped into reality as I was when my friend of 24 years, my co-worker and my love was thrust into a situation that landed him on death row. It will break your heart and make you a different person than you thought you were.
I have been you and now I am me.
I like me better.
Death row being a deterrent is a joke.
In my town in Sept of 2006 a man was sentenced to death. By June of 2007 there had been 6 deaths within a 10 mile radius of the very courthouse where he was sentenced.
How is it a deterrent? People don't consider the consequences of their actions unless they get caught. In a crime of passion they don't consider it because they are in too much pain to think of the consequences and most of the time they think at that moment that they don't care if they live or die.
We keep plucking the weed on top of the ground instead of focusing on getting down to the root of these problems and getting rid of them for good.
We need stable families and God in 1st place in our lives to have a society that will last.
Our families have been destroyed to the point that if you have a mom and dad in the same house you are the unique one.
We need to stop killing and start healing.
The issue with deterrence is not whether all murders are deterred, but whether some murders are deterred. To a certain extent, that is unknowable, but there are studies which suggest that the death penalty does deter and there are studies which suggest that it does not.

With respect to the death penalty, I doubt I would ever change my mind based on personal experience. I believe in it, and I want to see it enforced.

And Ike, if you think that all those "exonerees" didn't do it, then I have a bridge to sell you. Google Timothy Hennis and let me know if you think he has been exonerated.
Errors are made in the justice system, for those being convicted and those being exonerated as well. This is exactly why it is necessary to rid of a policy that inflicts ultimate punishment with the possibility of error.
Ike, you didn't get the memo. You should never ever agree that one of DPIC's "exonerated" could have been exonerated by mistake. That's straying from the party line. We cannot have that.
bait bait's getting very petty in this thread.....a real energy drain imho.
I agree with ya Auggie, but I definitely like the lively discussion which is what we are all about. The thing I enjoy most about abolitionists in Tennessee is that we are very open to all sides and opinions.

Um, anon, your sarcasm is just depressing.

I believe anyone can make mistakes. Again, I've said this on the blog often, but the death penalty is not black and white, although from what I've discerned, proponents frequently narrow it down to that. Because of how myopic that ideology is, they relish the opportunity to point out instances of when an abolitionist is myopic.

So far, I have met anti-death penalty folks that admit mistakes can be made, by both sides. But, anon, are you ok with the mistake of executing an innocent man?
I am definitely not ok with the execution of an innocent man, and I do agree that the prevention of the execution of the innocent is a legitimate argument against the death penalty. However, if the death penalty is a deterrent (and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that it is), then the delays in cases where innocence is not an issue are problematic, as preventable murders have occurred. Moreover, I can point specifically to cases where the failure to execute someone let to a further victim (Furman, yes of Furman fame, was recently convicted of a burglary which could have been much worse and Kenneth Macduff, whose crimes after release were unspeakable)--you only have rumors about possible innocence.

My problem with the abolitionist generally speaking are the following:

1) Holier than thou. We are told that the death penalty is barbaric etc. as if capital punishment supporters are simply bloodthirsty thugs.

2) A willingness to use or condone any tactic to keep a killer from getting death. See, e.g., Kevin Cooper, John Byrd, Kevin Foster (i.e., shading the truth about the guy's role in the crime), Tookie Williams. The list goes on and on. It should never be forgotten that when you are seeking to help killers, you should be purer than Caesar's wife. There are victims' families, some of whom think that death is an appropriate punishment--making false or shaded claims of innocence is deeply offensive and wrong.

3) Willingness to smear law-abiding people on behalf of murderers. Every time we hear the claims of racism etc., that is a smear against all the people who put the defendant where he is. It is an unfair charge, and it is tossed around indiscriminately.

4) Inane arguments. Every time I hear the "why do we kill people to teach that killing people is wrong", I want to puke. It's so trite and it's silly. We execute because he look at murder as such a reprehensible act that the perpetrator of such an act has forfeited his right to live among us.

5) No perspective. At the end of the day, assuming capital punishment is wrong, it is by no means as wrong as many many things in our society. The execution of less than 1100 killers in over 30 years in a nation of 300 million is not, in the grand scheme of things, that big of a deal.
We are seeking to correct the system and allow citizens to not have killings in their name.

Sister Helen Prejean struggled in her faith guidance of those on death row because of the schism it caused with the families of the victims. But she knew that both deserved her attention.

I don't think that we are smearing law-abiding people by making claims of racism in the death penalty. The simple fact is that there are more African-Americans on death row than statistically make sense.

What you claim as "inane" arguments I think are just ways of reaching different audiences. Messaging is important and in order to communicate our message to a wide variety of people, it's important to bring a wide variety of arguments. But, yea, sometimes I get tired of hearing the same argument time after time--just as i get frustrated hearing the same arguments by proponents such as the claim that it is a deterrent.

No 5 puzzles me. Allowing what you deem as "not that big of a deal" to continue can resonate further than the immediate reach of that specific policy. I believe that our broken death penalty system is indicative of many problems this country is facing, including extreme poverty for example. All of these problems are interwoven and they all deserved to be fixed.
We execute because he look at murder as such a reprehensible act that the perpetrator of such an act has forfeited his right to live among us,
I personally don't think that man has the right to decide to take a life of another...PERIOD. That's what doesn't ring true about pro death penalty folks - you seemingly are so quick to discount human life while all the time talking about how reprehensible murder doesn't add up to me.
Hey Ike, look at the percentage of murderers who are African-American and then look at the percentage of the death row population. You will see an interesting correlation. In fact, white murderers are more likely to be executed than black murderers. How do i know this? Look at the numbers--non-Hispanic whites comprise almost 60% of those executed for murder since 1976. Non-hispanic whites commit less than 40% of all murders in this country.
What's the matter, Ike, you don't have a good response to that one? Perhaps, once again, you didn't get the memo. Abolitionists have shifted their "racism against the perps" argument, as the numbers simply do not bear out that claim; now, the argument is "race of the victim" discrimination, which is a bogus claim, but the bogusness is less obvious.
Auggie, your argument regarding the belief that the state should be without power to execute murderers (although I would point out that you must make exceptions for warfare etc.) is valid and irrefutable. If that is your belief system, then that's that.

However, it is certainly logically consistent to subscribe to the forfeiture argument. The bottom line is that the ethic with the forfeiture idea is that innocent life is precious, not life itself. Self-defense is an obvious example. Let's say there's a choice between me killing two intruders or allowing the threat of one of my children to be killed. If life itself were the be all end all, then my killing of the two intruders, strictly speaking could not be justified, since their two lives, no matter what, is worth more than my child's. But no one believes this. Thus, life becomes something less than a categorical imperative. Once you've accepted that, then you have to accept the possibility that not all life has an absolute moral right not to be extinguished. That pretty much demolishes your "life is precious, so how can you justify killing" argument. The fact is that we can call murderer's lives precious etc., but no one really believes that they are as precious as what the murderers have taken away. If you do, you are a moral pygmy.
moral pygmy here ;-)
You help define me anon!
I think to live the dream you lay out we'd need a time machine and would need to place ourselves at the scene of the crime so we could passionately resist and kill the killers before they killed.
That's just not the case and we can't do that. Thank goodness we're not placed in a situation where we must do this. Even in this case I would try to stop the killer of course.
Every life is equally precious in the sight of God. God's grace is our gift though none of us deserve it.
moral pygmy signing out now :-)
But Auggie, we are not God. And I have shown, without any good argument to the contrary, that all lives are not equally precious, at least to us. Thus, the absolutism you propose simply doesn't reflect moral precepts that most people hold.
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