Texas Inmate Volunteers for Execution

CNN reports that Michael Rodriguez, one of the Texas Seven who staged a remarkable prison break in 2000, has volunteered to be executed.  If it weren’t such a serious matter, I’d laugh.  There is certainly no better state than Texas to present such a request.  One reason it’s not a laughing matter is that during their spectacular escape, an Irving Texas police officer, Aubrey Hawkins, was tragically shot and killed.  Another reason is that it’s about the barbaric practice of capital punishment, itself no laughing matter.  Apparently, Michael, unlike some of his co-defendants, has quite a bit of remorse.

“I’m glad we got caught, so no one else would get hurt,” Rodriguez said, discussing with a reporter for the first time his involvement in the crime spree eight years ago.

And he said he wants the family of his former wife, Theresa, and the relatives the slain police officer “to know how truly sorry I am and I am willing to pay.”

“I think it’s a fair sentence,” he added. “I need to pay back. I can’t pay back monetarily. This is the way.”

Michael Rodriguez was already serving life in prison for the murder-for-hire of his wife.

He blamed the original crime that landed him in prison for life, the 1992 murder-for-hire slaying of his wife, on “the lust of a coed” he met at what then was Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.

“My wife was a wonderful person and didn’t deserve this. I fell for a coed. It was stupid. I sit in my cell and think: How the heck did I get here?

 Here’s an interesting part of the story about the ringleader of the escape:

George Rivas, a convicted robber serving 18 life terms

Does anyone else find something wrong with that kind of “justice”.  I grant you, George was a bad boy, but 18 life sentences for a string of robberies, to me seems a bit much. Here’s his Wikipedia page.

Perhaps this heavy-handed approach to dealing with crime needs to be reconsidered. Proponents of it can say all they want about deterrent factors and justice, but to my way of thinking it’s just not working.

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26 Comments on “Texas Inmate Volunteers for Execution”

  1. Nomen Nescio Says:

    strict punishment as a deterrence never works, because — as i believe you mentioned on another thread — most criminals expect to get away with it.

    i’m opposed to the death penalty in particular, because i see it as unjustified. i can’t see where we as a society would get the moral right to kill off our own members. killing in individual self defense i can understand, even support; if one particular human being is unjustly threatened with death or serious injury, it’s only sensible for that person to defend themselves with force, even deadly force. but society as a whole can not be threatened by any one criminal; once a criminal is caught, convicted, sentenced, and incarcerated, what further threat can they be to outside society? our job should be, then, to ensure they remain incarcerated and alive; i can’t work out where we get the right to kill them.

    on the subject of the remorseful mr. Rodriguez, it occurs to me that if he wasn’t on death row yet otherwise felt much the same way, he’d be called suicidal and as such necessarily insane by not a few people. i myself am willing to take him at his word, but most folks would take issue with my, er, unusual attitude towards suicide as an individual right. i’m not willing to give him any agency in the issue, however; he’s an incarcerated prisoner, which means he doesn’t get to decide the path of his life, we do.

  2. Bob S. Says:


    Heavy handed approach to crime? I am not sure we see things in the same light.

    George Rivas is a career criminal, one who was sentenced to probation. Had the opportunity to get straight and stay straight. He chose not to do that. How many victims have nightmares about his first crime.

    Multiple armed robberies, kidnappings, hostage situations, over and over again; did George Rivas show that he wanted to function within the bounds of lawful society?
    Nope. The behavior he displayed was that of a sociopath.

    George Rivas had multiple tries to stay out of trouble, that string of robberies, each time he could have stopped but didn’t. Think of the number of victims that he had, the number of people that he terrorized.

    Have we gone so far overboard for criminal rights that we’ve forgotten that we, as individuals and as a society, have a right to deal harshly with those that have proven themselves unwilling to follow the rules?

  3. mikeb302000 Says:

    Nomen, You’re turning out to be one of my most interesting friends. You’re for guns, but against capital punishment. And did I understand correctly you’re for the individual’s right to commit suicide. Fascinating.

    Bob, What strikes me about your comments, and not only yours, are phrases like: “Had the opportunity to get straight and stay straight. He chose not to do that. ” and “each time he could have stopped but didn’t.” I think some of these offenders have already lost the freedom of choice. They’re sad damaged creatures who should be pitied not dealt with “harshly.” You seem to be intimating something that Weer’d said the other day that I have so much compassion for them that I don’t have enough for the rest of us. I don’t think so really.

  4. Bob S. Says:


    I would like to do a longer response later tonight, but for now I’ll just ask a couple of questions.

    When you read stories like George Rivas, Rodriguez, etc; how often do you think of their victims and how it impacted their lives?

    How many victims, from Rivas alone, have serious psychological issues because of his actions, did they have a choice in how they encountered him?

    How about the family of Aubrey Hawkins, the officer killed by the Texas 7 when they broke out of jail? What actions of Rivas did he not control when he planned, organized and led that breakout?

    How does the family of Hawkins deal with the fact that the “sad damaged creatures” viciously murdered their husband, father, son, brother?

    I’m a for rehabilitation efforts, removing feel good crimes from the books (drug possession, prostitution, etc), but each and every person is responsible for their actions.

    When does a person stop having that responsiblity?

  5. Nomen Nescio Says:

    Bob — i can’t speak for Mike, but it seems to me that none of your questions bear directly on whether or not we (society at large) have any right to kill these prisoners, nor on whether that would constitute justice.

  6. Bob S. Says:


    I think the bear directly on the question. Let’s step it back to something that I’ve had recent experience with, a speeding ticket.

    I’m was doing 60mph in a 45 mph zone. Clear skies, no rain, light traffic; not reckless speed, just over the limits. 6 lane avenue (3 in either direction). Coming home from work on a normal day.

    I chose to speed, no other way to say it. I was aware of my speed, I was in no situation that required it. Some other drivers chose to speed, but many didn’t. This wasn’t my first speeding ticket, so I should have known better right?

    Did I have some psychological condition that forced me to speed? Were their social pressures that required it, leaving me with no alternative but to speed?

    Nope, not one excuse.

    How can we state there are social issues or conditions that force people to steal, deal drugs, commit armed robbery or murder when the vast majority of the people in the very same conditions don’t commit those crimes?

    Please explain that to me; crime rates are actually low, even for certain socio-economic groups. Not every one is committing heinous crimes, if they were I would say no one had a choice. Rivas, Rodriguez, the others knew what they were doing was wrong.

    No one questions their ability to decide right and wrong, so when you boil it down the criminals made a choice- a choice to deliberately violate the laws and conventions of society. Remember that point, not only was it a legal issue but one of how we function as a people. Society recognizes that rules are required, some needed to be enforced at a price that will make future potential criminals balk at paying that price.

    The risk portion of calculations include the likelihood of being caught, it also include the results of being caught. Since crooks don’t expect to get; what can be done increase the risk portion? That answer is to make the punishment severe enough that people don’t want to even risk the slightest possibility suffering the consequences.

    The Death Penalty, properly applied, is one method of doing that. There are some interactions with criminals that society can and should say require the price to be the crooks life. Murder, child rapists, maybe even rapists in general, etc are all crimes in which that the person committing them chooses to reject societies rules and restrictions.
    That choice is not forced on them, for that different labels are used to describe the crimes.
    There are crimes so heinous that we, as a society through our laws, conventions and norms, say that a person committing them has no business being a part of that society. Not just for a short time, a long time, but for a life time. What cost should society pay for that person’s choice? Hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be used to educate, provide job opportunities, etc?

    Victor Frankel, in the midst of a German death camp, realized that we each have an ultimate freedom, Our thoughts, how we react to where we find ourselves. The fact that millions of people don’t commit the same crimes shows that people do have a choice.

    As Mr. Frankel said “Between stimulus and response is the FREEDOM to CHOOSE”.

  7. Nomen Nescio Says:

    we’re talking at cross purposes. i’m not denying individual agency or moral responsibility of the criminals; i’m talking about the justifiability of the specific punishment chosen. of course crime needs some punishment, but just because you were both guilty of and responsible for breaking the speed limit, doesn’t mean it’s smart — or, more importantly, even right — to hang you for speeding.

    my opposition to the death penalty has nothing to do with the convicted deserving to die. most of them surely do. i oppose it because we don’t deserve to kill them. no matter how much Joe X. Goblin might deserve a bullet in the brainpan, i don’t think any organized society in peacetime has the right to deal that death out. where would that society get any such right? is not killing wrong?

  8. Bob S. Says:


    Could you expand a little on that idea that as a society we don’t deserve to kill them?

    I would like to hear your thoughts on it.

    Before you do that, I’ll answer your last question.

    Not all killing is wrong. I’ve used this example before, I hope it makes sense here.

    I have a wife and 3 kids, all living at home. Bedrooms are at either end of the house, to be used later on.

    If I wake up to find my wife dead in the bed next to me,a person with a bloody ax standing next to my bed saying “you’re next” ; would I have a right to kill him?

    If I wake to find a person walking into my bedroom with an ax, should I assume he’s there to chop firewood or do I have to wait for an attack? Do I have a right to kill him?

    If I hear a person entering my front door, in the middle of my house, with the same ax, do I have to wait for him to run down a hallway toward a bedroom or do I have a right to kill him?

    If that same person is walking in my driveway, do I have a right to kill him?

    How about that person walking across the street, carrying an axe in the middle of the night?

    In each case, my justification to kill gets less and less as the person gets further away, right? My right to self defense does not ever diminish, just the extent that I can go to defend myself.

    Society has determined that the right to defend itself exists, thus we have a police force, army, navy, recognize the right of the individual to self defense. The right to kill comes from the existence of a social compact that everyone agrees to function within. Those that choose to function outside of the bounds of that compact remove themselves from it’s protection. In previous times, shunning was a method of removing a person from the social compact. Literally the person ceased to exist as a member of society; that meant death by starvation, animal, other clan/tribe/group etc. The end result was the same, death of the offender.

    Flash forward to today and we still have that right, if we don’t then we don’t have any right to lock up a person. That person is removed from society, hopefully for a short period, but often for a lifetime. I would argue we have less right to impose life sentences then then death penalty. Depriving a person of their liberty forever can and often is a form of mental cruelty. As it’s been stated prison isn’t a fun place, what’s worse then leaving a person to die of old age in such a place, putting him or her on the level of a caged animal?

    The death penalty is a recognition of the consequences of a crime….if you try to kill my wife or myself, you can die doing it, right? How is a death penalty applied by society on my behalf because the criminal not the same?

  9. Nomen Nescio Says:

    Bob, i may have phrased myself either very badly or unusually well, i don’t know which. i agree that some killing (but not all!) is justified, and your examples are excellent ones. using those very examples, i would argue that any killing of an incarcerated, and therefore controlled, prisoner by a society which itself can’t possibly be seriously threatened by that prisoner, cannot reasonably be a justified killing.

    i’m still not sure if i chose the right words when i said we don’t “deserve” to kill people on death row. that makes it sound like it’s some sort of privilege we might earn, and i wouldn’t agree with that. my intention was to contrast the act of killing (capital punishment) with whatever had earned the prisoner such punishment. they might deserve to die, and when we say that we mean it would be a justice if they died, but that’s a different thing — to me — from saying it would be a justice for us to kill them.

    a prisoner on death row is completely controlled, or is certainly supposed to be. such people are supposedly kept entirely out of contact with the rest of society, and completely prevented from living their own lives or deciding their own fates. to me, all those things are necessary; they’ve proven themselves so dangerous we can’t trust them in any other circumstances. but that’s all we need to do. we, as a society, do not NEED to kill them; they can’t threaten us further, once we’ve put them in those cells. so, to me, for us to take that extra step and kill them can’t be justified — we have no pressing need to defend ourselves against them any longer.

    that’s how the death penalty differs from self defense, to me. if somebody breaks into your home while you’re present, you really don’t have many other options but to fight them off with deadly force. you’re just one person, one family at most, and you can’t throw the home invader into your pantry and expect them to stay there as if it were a supermax cell. but society has that latter option. because society is more powerful than individual citizens, i think it has the obligation to not resort to deadly force as soon as we mere individuals must. killing should be a last option when all else fails, and society — since it has more options than individuals do — should resort to those first, before killing.

    certainly life imprisonment is a cruel thing from the prisoner’s point of view, but i really don’t much care what the prisoners think. they’ve forfeited the right to decide what happens to them; that right is ours, instead. my concern is partly where society gets the right to do whatever it decides to do to those prisoners — i see no place where the right for us to kill them might come from. i’m also concerned with the possibility of error — as someone smarter than me said, it’s better to let ten guilty men go free than to imprison one innocent, and we know from experience that innocent people sometimes get condemned to die.

    if a person serving a life sentence without parole gets exonerated, that’s a terrible thing because it means the justice system had earlier committed a terrible injustice — but far worse if that same prisoner had been executed! infinitely worse, because no apology can be made nor any restitution attempted to a dead man. the cruelty of lifetime imprisonment might be in some ways harsher than outright killing, as you say, but so long as our courts can still make mistakes i’d prefer we have that opportunity to set mistakes right again.

  10. Bob S. Says:


    i see no place where the right for us to kill them might come from.

    If I kill someone in cold blood society says that is wrong and I should be punished, correct?

    If I kill someone in self defense, I have still taken another person’s life, but society has defined that killing as acceptable. That is the power society from which society derives the death penalty. Determining if a person was justified in taking a life is a function of society, thus warfare against civilians is wrong, but is okay against soldiers. It’s okay to kill in self defense, isn’t also okay for the police to kill in defense of others?

    It flows from this right to determine whether or not a murder if justified that the death penalty derives. Society has determined that some crimes, some acts are so horrendous that it is unacceptable to keep that person among the living.

    As far as the chance that someone innocent will be put to death, I’ve stated their are multiple safeguards built into the system. The first and primary is that the death penalty is not always used, but is reserved for the most despicable acts. Determination to ask for the death penalty include the surety of the evidence.

    Surely there can be no question of guilt in the Canadian bus killer case? Isn’t there sufficient evidence to show that the Texas 7 are responsible for the death of Officer Aubrey Hawkins?

    Next, if the death penalty is abolished so is death row. Courts have ruled that long term solitary confinement is cruel and unusual punishment. Even criminals on death row aren’t completely removed from society; they interact with other prisoners, their lawyers, medical personnel, their guards, etc. Not completely isolated, are they?

  11. Nomen Nescio Says:

    If I kill someone in cold blood society says that is wrong and I should be punished, correct?

    exactly. and to me, the death penalty is killing in cold blood. if it were unavoidable, in immediate defense of someone, then perhaps; but that is never the case when a prisoner is already on death row.

    Society has determined that some crimes, some acts are so horrendous that it is unacceptable to keep that person among the living.

    i consider this determination unjustified and morally wrong. the very act of removing these people from among the living is a killing in cold blood, without the justification of necessity in any immediate defense of self or others, which to me makes it murder. every time the state executes someone, it makes me — since i’m a citizen — an accessory to murder. i object to this.

    Surely there can be no question of guilt in the Canadian bus killer case?

    do i get to mention the people who’ve been exonerated off of death row by DNA evidence, too? if only people whose guilt was beyond all doubt, reasonable or otherwise, ever ended up sentenced to death, then you’d have a point; but we both know that is not so.

    Even criminals on death row aren’t completely removed from society; they interact with other prisoners, their lawyers, medical personnel, their guards, etc.

    what “society” they may build inside the prison walls, i’m not concerned with. the point is, that’s inside the walls; the society i’m worried about protecting from them is outside the walls. so long as that distinction is kept inviolate, i’m happy.

  12. mikeb302000 Says:

    Ding Ding Ding Ding. I declare the winner of this round to be Nomen. But, I’m probably not an impartial referee of this boxing match.

  13. Bob S. Says:


    Little biased there are you 🙂

    Nomen has very valid points, I will grant that. It’s hard to argue that some people deserve to die for their actions.
    I would make the point that if we, as a society, decree that a person is not to be a part of that society-locked away until they are died…..isn’t that a death penalty just one in slow motion?

    I will agree that the death penalty is killing in cold blood. It should be. I don’t want hot tempers or emotions deciding the fate of a criminal. But the criminal death penalty isn’t the only case where we decided in cold blood to kill people.

    Warfare is sanctioned, legalized, cold blooded murder. We hope to confine it to the opposition’s military but in reality we accept there are things worth fighting and dying. Even some things that are worth the accidental death of civilians; remove Saddam from Kuwait for example.

    We also accepted that there are some things that are worth the cold blooded killing of civilians because eventually it would save lives. The fire bombing of Dresden Germany; the nuclear attacks on Japan. Ultimately, it was decided in order to preserve our way of life, our culture, our society; that others had to die. I still argue that the death penalty is the same….necessary for the survival of our society. The abolishment of the death penalty in many states and countries hasn’t changed the crime rates but implementing it has definitely assured, at a minimum those executed will never commit another crime.

    I’ll end the debate and proclaim a draw 🙂

    Next topic?

  14. Dudley Sharp Says:

    The reason to execute is that it is a just and appropriate punishment for some crimes.

    It is the same foundation as we have for all criminal sanctions.

    Justice is the reason to execute. It is justified by justice alone.

    Regarding protection of the innocent:

    The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
    Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
    To state the blatantly clear, living murderers, in prison, after release or escape, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
    Although an obvious truism, it is surprising how often  folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.
    No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.
    Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
    That is. logically, conclusive.
    16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.
    A surprise? No.
    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
    Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don’t. Studies which don’t find for deterrence don’t say no one is deterred, but that they couldn’t measure those deterred.
    What prospect of a negative outcome doesn’t deter some? There isn’t one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
    However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is compelling and un refuted that death is feared more than life.
    Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it’s a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
    Reality paints a very different picture.
    What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
    What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
    What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
    This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
    Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
    Furthermore, history tells us that lifers have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.
    In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
    Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.
    6 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA evidence. An additional 9 were released from prison, because of DNA exclusion, who had previously been sentenced to death.
    The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers, The New York Times,  has recognized that deception.
    To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . (1) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 “innocents” from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their “exonerated” or “innocents” list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions – something easily discovered with fact checking.
    There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.
    If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can reasonable conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.
    Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
    Full report -All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.
    Full report – The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request
    (1) The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
    New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
    national legal correspondent for The NY Times

    copyright 2007-2008, Dudley Sharp
    Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.
    Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
    e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com 713-622-5491,
    Houston, Texas
    Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
    A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

  15. mikeb302000 Says:

    Thanks again, Dudley. I bow to your greater experience and knowledge in this arena; I don’t claim to be anything more than an interested observer. I would like to question a couple of your ideas, if I may.

    The Justice bit, doesn’t sound exactly right to me, especially, “Justice is the reason to execute. It is justified by justice alone.” Doesn’t revenge have something to do with it? Certainly among the survivors of victims, you’ve got the vengeance factor. I’d say at the level of the government it exists also, and in my opinion, as understandable as it may be, it’s wrong.

    Also, the deterrent factor doesn’t work for me either. I agree with everything you said about the convicted men preferring life over death, but I think the real issue is that criminals expect to get away with their crimes. There is no greater optimist than a professional criminal, often it borders on the delusional. Even jaded hardened men who’ve been through the revolving door of the “Justice” system will expect to outsmart the law and get away with it next time. Because of this odd type of mental illness, if you will, the deterrence factor doesn’t even enter into it.

  16. Nomen Nescio Says:

    to say something is “justified by justice” doesn’t seem quite right to me. seems way too easy for an amateur moralist like me to come along, play Socrates, and ask “but what is justice?” in response to that.

    “justice”, in the end, is a human construct; it exists nowhere outside our own heads. we can make it into whatever we please, and we’ve been doing that for a very long time. a “justification”, as i understand it, is a line of reasoning or argument as to why some certain act, practice, or standard ought to be considered “just”. (am i wrong about that? English is my third language, after all; you may be using these words differently from me.) hence, by the definitions i’m used to, “justified by justice” is a circular argument, or a begging the question.

    i basically agree with Mike about the vengeance thing, even if only because i myself have a mean streak a mile wide and deeper than that. if revenge was justice, the sort of “justice” that would satisfy me would make a nightmare of the world. there is a wisdom in handing down judgments that leave both sides in the legal case disappointed and sore.

    debating the finer details of how the capital punishment is administered and implemented in any given jurisdiction could go on forever, but in the end, it’s beside the point. even if the police, courts, and penal system were perfect and flawless in every way (as we know they none of them are, ever), i would still argue that the state killing its own citizens in peacetime is unjust based on first principles. the state does not exist for the purpose of wielding that sort of power over those who constitute it. i want more individual liberty than that, and i’m an outright socialist.

  17. Yvonne Says:

    People are excuted because they did wrong. Michael Rodriguez finally did the right thing by asking to be executed. Does it bring closer to anyone? Couldn’t tell you because I am not one of the vicitims that has to live there life without there loved ones. Missing holiday’s their kids birthday, weddings, etc. When there child just needs a hug to say everything is going to be ok. Just to feel the comfort of a parent. Did he get off easy by having his life taken away from him? Instead of being shot 11 times then runover. Well I do not know because I am not GOD. I just know that if I was in that situation, I would need a lot of help to get through every single day. Knowing that I do not have my father to physically touch. To tell him I love him. To help me when i am down and out. To pick me up when I fall. To hold me when someone hurt me or broke my heart. I would also need a lot of help to find forgiveness for a person who turned my world upside down and would never trust to feel safe again. God Bless those that have lost their lives at the hands of these murders… God help us all.

  18. Dudley Sharp Says:

    mikeb302000 writes: “Doesn’t revenge have something to do with it? Certainly among the survivors of victims, you’ve got the vengeance”


    A death sentence requires pre existing statutes, trial and appeals, considerations of guilt and due process, to name but a few. Revenge requires none of these and, in fact, does not even require guilt or a crime.

    The criminal justice system goes out of its way to take hatred and revenge out of the process. That is why we have a system of pre existing laws and legal procedures that offer extreme protections to defendants and those convicted and which limit punishments and prosecutions to specific crimes.

    It is also why those directly affected by the murder are not allowed to be fact finders in the case.

    The reality is that the pre trial, trial. appellate and executive clemency/commutation processes offer much much greater time, money and human resources to capital cases than they do to any other cases, meaning that the facts tell us that defendants and convicted murderers, subject to the death penalty, receive much greater care and concern than those not facing the death penalty – the opposite of a sytem marked with vengeance.

    Calling executions a product of hatred and revenge is simply a way in which some death penalty opponents attempt to establish a sense of moral superiority. It can also be a transparent insult which results in additional hurt to those victim survivors who have already suffered so much and who believe that execution is the appropriate punishment for those who murdered their loved one(s).

    Far from moral superiority, those who call capital punishment an expression of hatred and revenge are often exhibiting their contempt for those who believe differently than they do.

    The pro death penalty position is based upon those who find that punishment just and appropriate under specific circumstances.

    Those opposed to execution cannot prove a foundation of hatred and revenge for the death penalty any more than they can for any other punishment sought within a system such as that observed within the US – unless such opponents find all punishments a product of hatred and revenge – an unreasonable, unfounded position

    Far from hatred and revenge, the death penalty represents our greatest condemnation for a crime of unequaled horror and consequence. Lesser punishments may suffice under some circumstances. A death sentence for certain heinous crimes is given in those special circumstances when a jury finds such is more just than a lesser sentence.

    Less justice is not what we need.

    A thorough review of the criminal justice system will often beg this question: Why have we chosen to be so generous to murderers and so contemptuous of the human rights and suffering of the victims and future victims?

    The punishment of death is, in no way, a balancing between harm and punishment, because the innocent murder victim did not deserve or earn their fate, whereas the murderer has earned their own, deserved punishment by the free will action of violating societies laws and an individuals life and, thereby, voluntarily subjecting themselves to that jurisdictions judgment.

  19. I've watched an execution Says:

    Killing is wrong no matter how you look at it. Do we teach our children which are the futre we can only kill if were in goverment and get away with it? I have witnessed an execution and its horrible and I will never forget what I witnessed. Executions are wrong no matter how you see it. They do not stop crimes what so ever. The cost to the tax payers is insane. It cost 2.3 million on average just for a trial of capital punishment, less then a million of you keep that person in prison for the rest of there lifes without parole. What about the person bein executed and what there families are going through? Are they not victims? Why does no one care how there feeling after watching there son die? What about there children, they are now victims, does that make it ok? Executions are wrong and people need to wake up. This can happen to anyone. How many men have been executed and there now opening there cases? Look at Dallas and Houston where a white DA convicted all these men and Dallas has now freed over 17 and the count is still going up, we cant bring people back from the dead when they clear there name. Wake up america

  20. Dudley Sharp Says:

    mikeb302000 Says: “I think the real issue is that criminals expect to get away with their crimes. There is no greater optimist than a professional criminal, often it borders on the delusional. Even jaded hardened men who’ve been through the revolving door of the “Justice” system will expect to outsmart the law and get away with it next time. Because of this odd type of mental illness, if you will, the deterrence factor doesn’t even enter into it.”

    With deterrence we are speaking of those who don’t commit crimes, because of their fear of sanction.

    For the deterrent effect of the death penalty to be important, all that is needed is for some few to be deterred. And that is, exactly what the deterrence studies find. See the links, at bottom.

    Many are so deterred from speeding. Many are so deterred from cheating on their taxes. It should be no surprise that some are deterred by the most serious criminal sanction.

    Many have discounted a deterrent effect because of the irrationality of potential and active criminals.  However, both reason and the evidence support that the potential for negative consequences does affect criminal behavior.

    Criminals who try to conceal their crime do so for only one reason — fear of punishment.  Likely, more than 99% of all criminals, including capital murderers, act in such a fashion.  Fear of capture does not exist without an expectation of punishment.

    This doesn’t mean that they sit down before every crime, most crimes or even their first crime, and contemplate a cost to benefit analysis of a criminal action.  Weighing negative consequences may be conscious or subconscious, thoughtful or instinctive.  And we instinctively know the potential negative consequences of some actions.  Even pathetically stupid or irrational criminals will demonstrate such obvious efforts to avoid detection.  And there is only one reason for that — fear of punishment.

    When dealing with less marginalized personalities, those who choose not to murder, such is a more reasoned group.  It would be illogical to assume that a more reasoned group would be less responsive to the potential for negative consequences.  Therefore, it would be illogical to assume that some potential murderers were not additionally deterred by the more severe punishment of execution.

    As legal writer and death penalty critic Stuart Taylor observes: “All criminal penalties are based on the incontestable theory that most (or at least many) criminals are somewhat rational actors who try so hard not to get caught because they would prefer not to be imprisoned. And most are even keener about staying alive than about avoiding incarceration.”  (10)

    Based upon the overwhelming evidence that criminals do respond to the potential of negative consequences, reason supports that executions deter and that they are an enhanced deterrent over lesser punishments.

    For some of the recent 16 deterrence studies, go to:




  21. Dudley Sharp Says:


    Nomen Nescio Says: “justice”, in the end, is a human construct; it exists nowhere outside our own heads. we can make it into whatever we please, and we’ve been doing that for a very long time. a “justification”, as i understand it, is a line of reasoning or argument as to why some certain act, practice, or standard ought to be considered “just”. (am i wrong about that? English is my third language, after all; you may be using these words differently from me.) hence, by the definitions i’m used to, “justified by justice” is a circular argument, or a begging the question.

    My reply: Everything coming out of the minds of men is a human construct, by definition. No thought escapes that description. And, yes, we can define any word or concept in whatever manner we please. However, humans make an effort share thoughts in common. That is how communities and civilizations formed.

    Justice is one of those words/concepts. We all have a sense of what is just, appropriate and right mean. Generally, speaking, most will come up with similar definitions.

    In most, if not all, cultures, murder is considered the most serious crime and, as such, the most serious criminal sanction is applied. Generally, the most serious sanctions may be long term incarceration or the death penalty. When applied, those sanctions are considered just, appropriate or correct.

  22. I've watched an execution Says:

    Why is it that blacks and mexican are the majority on death row? Why is it that white man does the same capital crime and he gets life or less? The death sentence is racist and for the poor.

  23. Nomen Nescio Says:

    We all have a sense of what is just, appropriate and right mean. Generally, speaking, most will come up with similar definitions.

    well, if you’re deciding justice by popular vote, the vast majority of the industrialized western world — that is, that part of humanity that clearly shares the largest part of its values with us, and we with them — has outlawed capital punishment as barbaric and unjust.

    i would be very wary about settling for majority opinion alone when it comes to deciding justice, however. public executions used to be a spectator sport, once; Romans paid good money to see christians thrown to the lions. those spectacles were not only accepted, they were wildly popular and surely considered just by the majority of the people. let’s not go there again, shall we?

  24. mikeb302000 Says:

    Thanks for the comments everybody. Dudley, I liked very much what you said about deterrence working on the ones who decide not to commit crimes. I was talking about the ones who do, but you’re very right that if some criminals decide not to, which I accept, then deterrence works.

    But, the other post where you said there’s no revenge factor, I’m afraid I cannot accept your argument. For one thing, you put words in my mouth by saying “Calling executions a product of hatred and revenge…” You went on to say the word “hatred” another three or four times. Is that some kind of debating tactic? Did you purposely exaggerate what I said, then repeat it over and over again, as some arguing technique? If that’s what you did, it failed to work because my words are on the page right above yours. I said “revenge” once and “vengeance” once. If, giving the benefit of the doubt and presuming that you don’t need to resort to transparent tricks like that, you were just getting passionate, fair enough. I get the point. You say no vengeance is involved, only justice.

  25. I've watched an execution Says:

    “Also, the deterrent factor doesn’t work for me either. I agree with everything you said about the convicted men preferring life over death, but I think the real issue is that criminals expect to get away with their crimes.”
    I disagree with that statement. I know many of the man on death row, as I’m a law student and look into different cases. Most of the men dont like life with out possibility of parole, to them its a slow death sentence. Just my two cents.

  26. mikeb302000 Says:

    I’ve watched an execution, Thanks for your comments. I like your ideas very much. My point about capital punishment though, has nothing to do with the deterrent factor or the inherent racism in its application. I oppose it on simple moral grounds. It’s wrong to commit premeditated murder, also for the State. I don’t buy the justice argument at all. It’s very often revenge disguised as justice, and for me that’s not good enough.

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