April 3, 2011

"Illinois Workers Find That a Death Penalty Ban Abolishes Their Jobs, Too."

Says the NYT.
[S]ome of the very people who pushed and prayed most fervently to end capital punishment in the state found that the triumph came with a termination notice.

“We’ve done such good work that we’ve put ourselves out of work,” joked [Wendi ]. Liss, 37, who spent a decade as a mitigation specialist assembling information to persuade juries to spare the lives of defendants....
The "workers" in question are lawyers and others at the Office of the State Appellate Defender. (Odd to see lawyers called "workers.") The job market in the law field is rough, and it must be especially grim to have put your specialty out of business in the state where you are licensed to practice law. Grim... but ecstatic. These were people devoting their lives to fighting the death penalty.

It's a fascinating life crisis. The celebration followed by ironic job loss could be the first scene in a movie. But what would happen next? 


Hagar said...

The devil soon finds work for idle hands ...

Anonymous said...

But what would happen next?

Switch sides and start campaigning for the death penalty.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Simply put, murder is good for the economy.

Do you know how badly the laws against murder have impacted the hit man and body guarding industries? Not to mention the funeral parlor industry.

For a bunch of purported capitalists, you're all a bunch of sissies! I mean, is the health of the economy and strong economic activity not more important than whether people live or die? Huh?! Huh?!!


KCFleming said...

They could become productive.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

The "Job Killing Abolition of the Death Penalty" Bill.

Where are the real Republicans when you need them?

David said...

Move to Saudi Arabia or Iran.

David said...

Sign of the times that the state, which had the death penalty law, was also paying lawyers to overturn the death penalty.

Lincolntf said...

Next she'd move to a quiet suburb where she'd live happily ever after. Until a double-murderer gets sprung after 20 years, moves in down the street from her house and begins terrorizing her family.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

This will surely hurt our standing as the country with the fifth largest number of executions delivered. Communist China, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia will definitely miss having us as a stronger competitor than Sudan, Yemen, Vietnam.

What has become of America's standing in the world? Where's our pride?

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Oh well. There's always Texas.

Freeman Hunt said...

I imagine most of them will now devote themselves to getting violent and dangerous criminals out of lesser punishments.

vet66 said...

Just what we need, more lawyers who believe we have no rights unless we become a victim. Wealth redistribution comes in different forms. In this case, saddling the taxpayer with $100k per annum in costs of incarceration per prisoner is a waste of money.

I wonder how many of these lawyers support abortion yet fight to save the lives of those found guilty of capital crimes?

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

Silly Rabbi's...simply continue on as before, NOW trying to End Life Without Parole, as "Cruel and Unusual" Punishment. This is NOT difficult...the first step was to abolish Capital Punishment, now let's move on down the list....as I'm sure this bright and inventive Sparks will soon realize.

And seriously, JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT ON DEATH ROW, doesn't mean there wasn't a miscarriage of Justice...

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I guess there go a number of potential wrongly executed prisoners that we can't feel good about being overly zealous in dealing with them.

What has this country come to?

We are surely steering off the proper short-course to End Times.

dreams said...

They can go to work for planed parenthood. They need some help and people who oppose the death penalty are invariably pro-abortion.

AllenS said...

Reality TV--

Act II

Murderer is released from prison. Goes on rampage of rape and murder. Is finally apprehended when ...

Act III will start in October.

WV: ephero

Sometime during Act XXV, a mysterious person, ephero, will show up.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

And seriously, JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT ON DEATH ROW, doesn't mean there wasn't a miscarriage of Justice...

Thats a GREAT point, Joe! I mean, I'm sure that all the wrongly executed will be happy to know that! They sure are lucky to know that you don't have their back! What a country!!! We don't mind killing a few extra people just so that the "actual criminals" don't get wrongly acquitted.

There's a standard of justice that any tyrant would be proud to aspire to. I guess you can't make a justice omelet without breaking a few eggs, huh?

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

In this case, saddling the taxpayer with $100k per annum in costs of incarceration per prisoner is a waste of money.

My state doesn't count it that way and I bet yours doesn't either...prisoners are counted at $^^/day or %&&,000/year...in my state it runs between 30,000/40,000 per year...meaning that the Bureau of Prisons submits a budget request for ALL prisoners based on that figutre...meaning that a LWOP Prisoner gets billed at 30,000/40,000 per year...not $100,000 sorry.

Makes it cost beneficial to imprison rather than KILL, Execution runs ~1.5 Million per Death. Meaning we can imprison Mr "X" for about 40 years rather than execute Mr/Ms "X".

Scott said...

As a Christian, I am very happy that Illinois banned capital punishment.

No Christian supports the death penalty.

JohnnyT1948 said...

If only more Government workers (including some lawyers who write and enforce regulations) could eliminate the need for their jobs...
We can always dream...

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

Thats a GREAT point, Joe! I mean, I'm sure that all the wrongly executed will be happy to know that!

*WOW* You don't take any support do you...I argue against Captial Punishment and you gotta complain?

AllenS said...

But, will they finally abolish that other death penalty, abortion?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Odd to see lawyers called "workers."

With the surplus of lawyers and the ease of regimenting many legal tasks, it wont be long until lawyers are considered blue collar.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Sorry Joe, I'll take it. Your post threw me off and I actually did take a minute to question whether you weren't actually being sarcastic and actually agreed with the merit of the arguments. I figured I'd take a chance anyway -- had too much satire lined up in that comment -- and went with it. But here you are explaining that you really do have a bone to pick with the status quo. So, you're right. Mea culpa. I'll take the support.

Meade said...

"I guess you can't make a justice omelet without breaking a few eggs, huh?"

Egg Beaters® - New Justice Style

Wince said...

I'm trying to think of the Luddite equivalent to save their jobs...

Smashing liberal "social justice" organizations?

Go on an interstate murder spree?

wv - "baryogi" = Hindu reincarnation of "Norm" from Cheers

MikeR said...

"We don't mind killing a few extra people just so that the "actual criminals" don't get wrongly acquitted."
I don't think this addresses the real reasons for the death penalty. It is immoral to allow a murderer to keep his life, and it harms society. It takes away our respect for life. There is no crime greater than this, and society must react accordingly or lose part of what makes it civilized. Concern for the innocent is important, but there are plenty of cases where there is no serious question about guilt.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Well then, Pfewwww! I guess I'm not so unhappy about deploying the irony....

Let the record show that MikeR thinks it is better to take a chance on executing the innocent than on letting a guilty guy wa -- spend a lot of time in prison or otherwise lose his freedom. There's your respect for the power of the state, I guess.

The omelet and egg analogy, therefore, stands. Thanks for picking up on it, Meade. For background, it's the excuse made by industrial-strength tyrants worldwide in the 20th century for all the atrocities they carried out. It was in the name of the "greater good". Sometimes a socialist "greater good". Glad to see that MikeR and undoubtedly other cons would like to appropriate that piss-poor standard of justice for other purposes.

Well done, "conservatives"!

MisterBuddwing said...

Well, for what little it's worth, I officially oppose capital punishment, for all the usual reasons: It's not applied fairly (in the words of Bourke Cockran, "You simply cannot hang a millionaire in America"), you risk executing the innocent, the state shouldn't be in the business of sanctioning the killing of people, etc.

But as I've gotten older and more crotchety in my middle age, I've found myself more and more willing to make exceptions in cases where there is no doubt of guilt, and the crime is especially heinous. And I've found I'm not alone - I've met people who normally oppose executions who suddenly do a 180 when names like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy come up.

WV: imace

MikeR said...

"Let the record show that MikeR thinks it is better to take a chance on executing the innocent than on letting a guilty guy wa -- spend a lot of time in prison or otherwise lose his freedom." Let the record show that Conservatives4 didn't bother to actually read my words.

MikeR said...

I guess I would add that Conservatives4 and everyone else actually does believe in possibly punishing innocent people in order to punish the guilty - or they wouldn't allow prisons at all. Make up your mind.

I'm Full of Soup said...

This is a true first! A govt agency has completed its core mission, admits it is no longer needed and is disbanded.

Now if only we could get some of the big federal depts to do the same.

tim maguire said...

They violated the first rule of special interest vocation--never end the injustice you are fighting against.

Best to pick one that can't be objectively measured, but since they had no choice here, it would have been best to be bad at their jobs.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

That's how I interpreted these words: "It is immoral to allow a murderer to keep his life, and it harms society."

If you're saying that you are comfortable allowing a little bit of "immorality" in the case of a murderer being imprisoned rather than dead, over the greater "immorality" of killing the innocent, then I guess you have a point.

Someone else brought up serial killers. For what it's worth, I think it's easier to abstain on objecting when the number of bodies and cases reach double digits (or even more than one case, one body). However, passing up on the opportunity to have a psycho-serial killer captured for study deprives us of being able to intensively research these dangerously warped minds and look at what makes them tic so as to prevent future Hannibal Lecter-esque atrocities.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Charlie Sheen is a cereal killer. I just can't think of Frosted Flakes the same way ever again. My Tony the Tiger keeps his blood INSIDE his body.

Unknown said...

PETA's always hiring.

Not the same thrill, but you get what you can.

Ron said...

What would happen next?

It would involve a stolen stealth fighter...snarky remarks about Bruce Willis's hair....large breasts....

hmmm? Oh, sorry, wandered off topic...I guess!

Automatic_Wing said...

World to end tomorrow; women, minorities and lawyers hardest hit.

MikeR said...

I take back what I said: Conservative4 did read some of my words. He just doesn't think it is necessary to read more than one sentence at a time.

Kirk Parker said...

(Odd to see lawyers called "workers.")


wv: herse. (I swear I am not making this up!)

Ritmo Re-Animated said...


Try being more comprehensive and considerate of the context (overall support or opposition) and I'm sure it wouldn't have happened. It's not a good idea to leave so much unsaid as to leave others guessing at what you're trying to say.

dbp said...

"It's a fascinating life crisis. The celebration followed by ironic job loss could be the first scene in a movie. But what would happen next?"

A lot: First, a prisoner who would have been executed, slowly over the years and decades of his incarceration gains the trust of his captors and then escapes. Later, he kills a father and his kids at a McDonald's--his wife was getting together with her grad-school friends for the day.

Many years later, the mom meets and through a series of highly romantic turns, falls in love with the idealistic lawyer who was instrumental in getting the death penalty abolished.

Only after they are married does she realize the role played by her new husband. Mayhem ensues--or not. Depends on if this is an art film or a thriller.

themightypuck said...

This is a risk associated with all accomplishment. When you finish one thing you start doing another thing. Rent extractors like lawyers see accomplishing nothing as an accomplishment.

Unknown said...

Concern for the innocent is important, but there are plenty of cases where there is no serious question about guilt.

I am not too keen on the state having the power to decide who lives and who dies.

Synova said...

If the people who put themselves out of work go on to find different jobs, they have my admiration.

The usual pattern is to warp the cause you've made your life's work, no matter how complete your victory, to give it life after death.

Mission creep.

Unions, nth-wave feminists, race professionals...

Hunt Brown said...

what would happen next? legalize drugs, abolish income taxes, thus reulting in devastating unemployment in prisons and courthouses around the nation. Then the lawyers would unionize and together with the prison guard union and the judge union could lay siege to the wisconsin state house......

themightypuck said...

MikeR has a point. Prison is a pretty horrible place to spend time and you don't get that back if you are wrongly convicted. The problem is getting at the truth. Why do the courts fuck up so much as truth determiners? You have to make a trade off at some point.

virgil xenophon said...

I think Joe has the right take on the probable course of events, alright. It all depends on what "industrial" model one hews to--the "mass production" model which holds it better to execute 10,000 criminals worth executing even if a few innocent are swept into the maw as well, or the "quality control" model where 'tis better that 10,000 guilty go free rather than a single innocent be executed...society has been arguing about the Goldilocks "happy medium" since the dawn of the Republic..

Anonymous said...

If Illinois had "dozens" of lawyers and support people working on Death Row appeals, the state's death penalty must have been ludicrously cost ineffective.


Synova said...

"I am not too keen on the state having the power to decide who lives and who dies."

The alternative is the risk of vigilantism if people start to believe that the state can not be trusted to gain them appropriate and proportional justice.

dbp said...

I think VX is on the right track. What is the ideal ratio of innocents executed/guilty released? Surely not 10,000 guilty go free to prevent one innocent from being executed. 10,000 murderers are pretty likely to murder far more than one innocent, if they are outside of prison.

I would certainly not want to be executed if I was innocent (or even if I was guilty). I would also not like to be killed by a murderer who was released due to overly cautious rules of justice.

themightypuck said...

The simple solution is to make prisons nicer places and courts more likely to convict. That way we don't have to feel as bad about the innocent prisoners and we make the streets safer.

William said...

In order to make omelettes you have to lay a few eggs. I'm sure that the human flaws in our parole system have killed far more innoncents than the errors in our capital punishment system.....Anecdotal evidence that proves nothing: I had an acquaintance who was a witness for the prosecution in a murder case. The murderer got out after twelve years. The murderer knew where the witness lived since the murder had taken place in the neighboring apartment. In an abundance of caution, my friend sold his apartment and moved to another state. There are ripples in the pond when you turn a murderer loose.

george said...

Or we could make prison conditions worse and then we don't have to arrest so many people and thus fewer innocents get caught up in the net.

Since you can't really figure out the proper ratio to minimize innocent deaths versus deaths of people who deserve it I say we turn the measuring job over to the climatologists. They are experts at making predictions about the behavior of systems which they don't understand based on data they cannot support.

dudleysharp said...


Of all human endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

1) "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"

2) Opponents in capital punishment have blood on their hands, Dennis Prager, 11/29/05, http://townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2005/11/29/opponents_in_capital_punishment_have_blood_on_their_hands

3) "A Death Penalty Red Herring: The Inanity and Hypocrisy of Perfection", Lester Jackson Ph.D.,

The false innocence claims by anti death penalty activists are legendary. Some examples:

4) "The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"

5) The 130 (now 138) death row "innocents" scam

6) Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review"

7) "At the Death House Door" Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?"

8) "Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown", A Collection of Articles

Big Mike said...

If they're like good liberals everywhere else they'll go find something else to get wildly indignant about.

dudleysharp said...

Scott said
"No Christian supports the death penalty."

The New Testament biblical and theological support for the death penalty far outweighs any alleged teachings to the contrary.

God/Jesus: 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.' Matthew 15:4. full context - Jesus used this reference to condemn the Pharisees for their intentional misinterpretation of God's Word, emphasizing that the Truth of God's Word must be enforced, which is precisely what He was doing with this well known passage. www.newadvent.org/bible/mat015.htm

Saint (& Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987.

"Death Penalty Support: Christian and secular Scholars"

Christianity and the death penalty

Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty,

Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey: " . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none. It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect." (p. 111-113) Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992.

Pope Pius XII: "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52

Saint Paul, in his hearing before Festus, states: "if then I am a wrong doer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die." Acts 25:11.

St. Augustine: "The same divine law which forbids the killing of a human being allows certain exceptions. Since the agent of authority is but a sword in the hand, and is not responsible for the killing, it is in no way contrary to the commandment "Thou shalt not kill", for the representative of the State's authority to put criminals to death, according to the Law or the rule of rational justice." The City of God, Book 1, Chapter 21

hundreds more

Drew said...

It's a fascinating life crisis. The celebration followed by ironic job loss could be the first scene in a movie. But what would happen next?

I don't know. Ask me in a few months. If Walker's budget repair law finally goes into effect, it's possible that I would lose a client who accounts for 95% of my revenue. And yet I want badly for that law to be passed.

Anonymous said...

This killer should be killed by the state.

Anyone disagree? Is an accomplice in jail who confessed, video, motive, physical evidence via blood stains, and no doubt other people with close knowledge of the events surrounding the death enough?

Herb said...


I beg your pardon. I'm a Christian and I support the death penalty.

Freeman Hunt said...

Of all human endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.


I'd have no problem with the standard of proof required for the death penalty being higher than that for conviction.

But to eliminate the death penalty is not to service justice, it is to diminish it.

There are crimes for which life imprisonment is not a just response, and Synova is right. People will notice.

Freeman Hunt said...

This killer should be killed by the state.

How could anyone determine that without a trial and trial records?

Anonymous said...

"...an accomplice in jail who confessed, video, motive, physical evidence via blood stains, and no doubt other people with close knowledge of the events surrounding the death" is why I can condlude at a trial he would be found guilty.

What more would it take for you? Can anyone not convicted in a court room be guilty of anything in your mind?

If so, why can't I conclude his guilt, without mentioning an assumed trial and decades of litigation while on death row?

themightypuck said...

"Or we could make prison conditions worse and then we don't have to arrest so many people and thus fewer innocents get caught up in the net."

That would also work if harsher conditions acted as a deterrent. In my hypothetical, I'm talking about assuaging collective guilt over a system that has to occasionally get it wrong. In your hypothetical, it seems a better solution would to make the punishments harsher pe se rather than as a consequence of making prison conditions harsher (which isn't to say harsher prison conditions wouldn't also help). In my experience, people who want harsh prison conditions do so out of a desire for retribution rather than a desire for public safety. Nothing wrong with that.

Harry Phartz said...

Next? She realized that at 37 it was now or never if she wanted to fulfil her fantasy of dancing and stripping in a Rockford roadhouse. She chose the stage name "Wicked Wendi" ("that lascivious lassie from Springfield!") And that was that.

Freeman Hunt said...

is why I can condlude at a trial he would be found guilty.

No, you can't. News stories about crimes are notoriously inaccurate and incomplete. We have trials for a reason. All of the evidence would be part of the trial, including that which you list.

What more would it take for you?

A trial.

ken in tx said...

If I lived in a state with no death penalty, I would take it on myself to impose the death penalty on anyone who harmed my family. After all, what would I have to lose, if there's no death penalty?

Roger J. said...

I have personal misgivings about the application of the death penalty--I honestly do not know what the answer is except there are some crimes so horrific that it does seem justified in rare cases

Perhaps I should apply Mr Clinton's dictum that it should be safe (for society and not the convicted, legal and rare.

Life is too complicated to put in boxes--a great article in the WSJ weekend page on "paths of glory." Equally relevant to our legal system. And dont get me started on our prison where prison rape is apparently sanctioned to control prisoner behavior.

Anyway--my .02

ken in tx said...

There is a child rapist in my community who temporarily got off because of a hung jury. I was on that jury. I voted guilty. Others voted not guilty even though the victim and his own brother-in-law testified against him. The jury was not allowed to know that the guy was a serial rapist and had a long juvenile record of sexual misconduct. If there was no death penalty in South Carolina, and I was the father of the victim in this case, I would kill the guy who messed with my daughter.

AST said...

You know what would really be ironic? If one of these people had a family member murdered by someone they got off death row and released on probation.

Kirk Parker said...

What Synova said at 10:51am! Yes yes yes. Why should people support the social contract if it's all cost and no benefit?

Kirk Parker said...


Dude, you still have to have the trial.

Anonymous said...

I can pronounce guilty anyone I damn well please.

This has nothing, nothing at all in any way, to do with the killer's due process, because I have no control over that. None at all, in any way.

Why are the two concepts, due process and my opinion of the man's guilt, being confated here? I have no influence on the process that the state uses to kill inmates in differing states than mine.

Where did I proclaim the killer should be denied his due process, or why would you assume that's what my comment implied?

The state should kill the killer, because he is guilty, just like I said.

Unknown said...

Fort has a right to his own conclusions and y'all have a right to agree. I agree with his conclusions, provided the evidence is accurate.

Lets' frame it tad differently: you're on the jury and the evidence he presented was presented at the trial and found to be accurate.


Unknown said...

I knew Bob Bordello, the KC serial killer, personally. Not a friend, by any means, but as someone running a shop in the local flea market.

This is a man who took pictures, made journals and kept 'mementos' from his victims. He tortured them in many various ways including electricity, rubber mallets, knives, etc...

The police found all of this, plus the bodies buried in his crawl space.

Not enough?

Simon said...

george said...
"Or we could make prison conditions worse and then we don't have to arrest so many people and thus fewer innocents get caught up in the net."

How does that work? You think that if we just make prison even less appealing, people will have even stronger incentive to avoid it? How has that worked out so far?

Fort said...
"This killer should be killed by the state. Anyone disagree?"

Yes. The Church teaches that the death penalty is only permissible when it is "the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor"; when "non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means…. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically non-existent." CCC ¶ 2267; Evangelium Vitae, no. 56 (John Paul II, 1995). Whatever my personal opinions—I tended to agree with Synova and Freeman—that ties my hands, see Lumen Gentium, no. 25 (2d Vat. Council, 1964). Without an argument that the death penalty is necessary in a particular case, we must concede the question of death to God's justice timing, not ours—no matter how distasteful or distressing it may be in particular cases.

MisterBuddwing said...

I knew Bob Bordello, the KC serial killer, personally.

You mean Robert Berdella? No need to disguise the name anymore, since he died in prison.

WV: numbac

dudleysharp said...


In response to 2267, there is this:

Beside the realities that the secular standard of the safety of prison systems is just that, a secular standard, both CCC and PJPII wrongly assessed the prison systems of the world.

It's as if they have no idea what is going on.


2260: "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image." "This teaching remains necessary for all time."

Simon said...

Dudley, I doubt that Genesis 9 was simply forgotten about, especially since (as you point out) the Catechism quotes it only a few paragraphs earlier. Nor do I think there was much naivete about prison systems; there are, of course, countries in which prison systems are not adequate and which may have to resort to the death penalty. The Church is careful to not exclude the possibility of the death penalty while explaining the narrow range of situations in which it may be used.

In the United States, I suppose that one argument is what we might call "the Huckabee problem": Governors typically have almost unbounded clemency power, and so one cannot say with certainty that some future governor will not see fit to release the person. On that basis, I suppose one could argue that ¶2267 is answered. But for myself, I find that loophole unattractive.

dudleysharp said...


The point was that there is an obvious conflict between the eternal command of Genesis in 2260 and the secular foundations of 2267which are based upon an erroneous prudential judgment.

The biblical foundation for the death penalty is found in Genesis 9:5-6 and is based, specifically, upon "shedding blood".

2260: "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image." "This teaching remains necessary for all time."

2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous." The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. the law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.

"An 'innocent' person."

2258 "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being."

"An 'innocent' human being"

Always and everywhere there is the prescribed sanction of "For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.... "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.", which, is confirmed in the Council of Kent, that execution represents paramount obedience to that commandment.

2262 In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, "You shall not kill," and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.

The type of killing being discussed, here, is the illegitimate type, meaning with anger or hatred, killing innocents, as well as many others, not the just prescription of death for murder. We also have the distinction between personal obligations, as opposed to the obligation of the state to defend their citizens.

A more full review: : "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment." (from CCC, Article 5, THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT, MT 5:21-22)

Jesus was actually raising the bar in the Sermon On The Mount, teaching that having hatred in out hearts provided the proper punishment of eternity in hell, obviously a much more severe sanction than an earthly execution for murder, which may offer the blessing of expiation of our sins, as detailed below.

As with "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna." Matthew 5:22 NAB

With 2263, it is clear that both defense of individuals and the state are described and that both refer to the common good requirement of rendering the unjust aggressor incapable of doing harm, which can only be accomplished by death.

dudleysharp said...


The Huckabee problem is very small compared to all of the other errors in criminal justce systems.

Let's look at "the means at the State's disposal" (2267).

All villages, towns, cities, states, territories, countries and broad government unions have widely varying degrees of police protections and prison security. Murderers escape, harm and murder in prison and are given such leeway as to murder and/or harm, again, because of "mercy" to the murderer, leniency and irresponsibility to murderers, who are released or otherwise given the opportunity to cause catastrophic losses to the innocent when such innocents are harmed and murdered by unjust aggressors. (4)

Incarcerated prisoners plan murders, escapes and all types of criminal activity, using proxies or cell phones in directing free world criminal activities. All of this is well known by all, with the apparent exception of the authors of the Catechism. (4)

Some countries are so idiotic, reckless and callous as to allow terrorists to sign pledges that they will not harm again and then they are released, bound only by their word, a worthless pledge resulting in more innocent blood.

It has always been so.

The Catechism, as does EV, avoids the many realities whereby the unjust aggressor has too many opportunities to harm again. Do the authors of the Catechism have no grasp of reality? (4)

Apparently not.

4) a) Anwar al Awlaki, a spiritual leader at two mosques where three 9/11 hijackers worshipped, a native-born U.S. citizen who left the United States in 2002, was arrested in 2006 with a small group of suspected al-Qaida militants in the capital San'a. He was released more than a year later after signing a pledge he will not break the law or leave the country. He is now missing and encourages violence against Americans from his website, Awlaki used his site to declare support for the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabaab and celebrated the acts of US Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, who murdered 13 and wounding 29 in a shooting spree. al Awlaki called upon other Muslim's to duplicate those acts. "Radical imam praises alleged Fort Hood shooter", Associated Press, 11/9/09, 6:19 pm ET http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091109/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_fort_hood_muslims

b) 16 al Quaeda Escape in Jailbreak in Iraq

c) 23 escape from Yemen prison, 13 are al Quaeda

d) Repeat sex offender,"cripple" serving life, overpowers guards, escapes

e) Governor commutes 108 year sentence: Offender later murders 4 policemen, while on bond for two child rapes

f) Officials "embarrassed" by Texas death row inmate escape, Houston Chronicle, November 06, 2005 http://www.policeone.com/corrections/articles/120563-Officials-embarrassed-by-Texas-death-row-inmate-escape/

". . . Thompson claimed he had an appointment with his lawyer and was taken to a meeting room. However, the visitor was not Thompson's attorney." "After the visitor left, Thompson removed his handcuffs and his bright orange prison jumpsuit and got out of a prisoner's booth that should have been locked. He then left wearing a dark blue shirt, khaki pants and white tennis shoes, carrying a fake identification badge and claiming to work for the Texas Attorney General's office." "This was 100 percent human error; that's the most frustrating thing about it." "There were multiple failures." Trial jurors and victim's relatives were terrified.

g) the Holy See could find these types of cases every day seemingly forever, if it cared to look.

Simon said...

Dudley, all that exegesis would be well and good if I was a protestant and protestant presuppositions were correct. Neither is true. The Church has explained the application of scripture to the death penalty in ¶ 2267; we play within those walls. Theologians and legitimate theological debate work "in communion with the Magisterium which has been charged with the responsibility of preserving the deposit of faith," Donum Veritatis, no. 6 (CDW 1990), not in opposition to it. Our task is to more fully understand, not to suppose that the Church—whose faith shall not fail, Lk 22:32; Mt:16:18, to which God has given "a living teaching authority to elucidate and explain what is contained in the deposit of faith … for authentic interpretation[,] not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the magisterium of the Church," Humani Generis, no. 21 (Pius XII, 1950)—got it wrong and belabor efforts to prove why and how.

Do you suppose that the Church was unaware of the arguments you're raising? That such points were not considered? They were. It is, after all, "[t]he college of bishops, by virtue of their ordination and their succession to the place of the apostles, [who] are empowered to authentically discern and proclaim the Word of God; and although the whole church, both lay and ordained, are trustees of and witnesses to that Word, when the community is divided, it is the testimony of the united college of bishops, or of the Pope as the head thereof, that finally and authentically determines what God has defined…." Simon Dodd, Ad Lucem Dei 63-64 (C.D. Dec. 1, 2010) (paraphrasing Ladislas Orsy, The Church: Learning and Teaching 58, 70, 79-80 (1987)); cf. Donus Veritatis, supra, no. 21; but see id., no. 24. In this way, “the truth [is] revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium,” Benedict XVI, ad limina address to the Bishops of England & Wales (2009), and for this reason, "the Christian faithful should adhere with religious submission of mind to the authentic magisterium of their bishops," 1983 C.I.C. 752-53.

We are not free to disregard the magisterium simply because we have a different interpretation of scripture or, still less, because its teaching is inconvenient given our political predispositions.

dudleysharp said...


I am aware of the Catholic instructions regarding Church teachings.

Possibly, you are not aware that some of the teachings are prudential judgements and any good Catholic is free to disagree with the Church on those teachings.

As per this instruction:

2004, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows: "While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia." http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=1125
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: More Concerned with 'Comfort' than Christ?, Catholic Online, 7/11/2004

and this:

"Catholic scholar Steven A. Long says in "Evangelium Vitae, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Death Penalty" (The Thomist, 1999, pp. 511-52), "It is nearly the unanimous opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church that the death penalty is morally licit, and the teaching of past popes (and numerous catechisms) is that this penalty is essentially just (and even that its validity is NOT SUBJECT TO CULTURAL VARIATION)." Most recently, Avery Cardinal Dulles says both Scripture and tradition agree "that the State has authority to administer appropriate punishment to those judged guilty of crimes and that this punishment may, in serious cases, include the sentence of death"

and this

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., considered one of the most prominent Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century.

"There are certain moral norms that have always and everywhere been held by the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Although never formally defined, they are irreversibly binding on the followers of Christ until the end of the world." "Such moral truths are the grave sinfulness of contraception and direct abortion. Such, too, is the Catholic doctrine which defends the imposition of the death penalty." (2)

"Most of the Church's teaching, especially in the moral order, is infallible doctrine because it belongs to what we call her ordinary universal magisterium." (2)

"Equally important is the Pope's (Pius XII) insistence that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture of Christianity." " . . . the Church's teaching on 'the coercive power of legitimate human authority' is based on 'the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.' It is wrong, therefore 'to say that these sources only contain ideas which are conditioned by HISTORICAL CIRCUMSTANCES.' On the contrary, they have 'a general and abiding validity.' (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1955, pp 81-2)."

2)"Capital Punishment: New Testament Teaching", Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., 1998

JMC said...

Simon -

You comments don't address the problem that 2267 presents: it is not consistent with everything the Church has ever taught. All of the citations you make to demonstrate why we are obligated to accept 2267 apply equally to all of the previous statements the Church has made on capital punishment. How can they all be equally right when they are contradictory?

In fact, the first claim 2267 makes is simply wrong on the facts: the traditional teaching of the Church never restricted the use of capital punishment solely to cases where it was needed for protection.

As to the third claim that modern penal systems can adequately protect societies without resorting to capital punishment, surely you recognize this as a prudential opinion. It is not reasonable to even consider the possibility that an evaluation of modern penology could be doctrinal.

As for your comments on the nature of the Magisterium, what are we to think when the Magisterium of 1997 says something that contradicts what all previous Magisteriums had consistently held? I think the only consistent explanation is the one given by Cardinal Dulles:

The Pope and the bishops, using their prudential judgment, have concluded that in contemporary society, at least in countries like our own, the death penalty ought not to be invoked, because, on balance, it does more harm than good.