Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Death penalty opponent brings message to series at Winthrop



By Tamara Ford · tford@heraldonline.com


Updated 10/30/07 - 1:13 AM


Sister Helen Prejean always writes the words "Choose Life" when she autographs her book.


It's a plea the compassionate woman took to Winthrop University on Monday night when she discussed the emotional process and journeys experienced by both sides of the death penalty -- the families of victims and the death-row inmates and their families.



"I've never thought that I would be drawn into this suffering," Prejean said earlier in the day about her ministry to death-row inmates and the families of murder victims that began in 1981.
Prejean, who wears a cross around her crisp, white, collared shirt, has been talking to audiences of all ages and backgrounds in the Southeast to help eliminate the death penalty that exists in 38 states. South Carolina is one of them -- eighth in the nation for executions, she said.
"We just need to take the death penalty off the table and not let the government be the arbitrator of life and death," said the nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille in Louisiana. "The alternative sentence is life without parole."



The 68-year-old added that some victims' families like the idea of knowing that the convicted murderer is behind bars without means of returning to society to kill again.



Prejean was one of the speakers during the Death Penalty Awareness Series hosted by Winthrop's Peace, Justice and Conflict Resolution Studies Minor and The Oratory in Rock Hill.


The series, which began in September, includes the Department of Theatre and Dance's production of "Dead Man Walking" by Tim Robbins, which runs Wednesday to Sunday in the Johnson Studio Theatre.



"The purpose of the series was not to condemn the death penalty, but to ask questions and get the answers," said Ginger Williams, a Winthrop history professor who was instrumental in putting together the series.



The play, based on Prejean's book "Dean Man Walking," is about her experiences with the prison ministry. The book was nominated for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize and was developed into a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn that was released almost 12 years ago. Her second book, "The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions" was published in December 2004.



Prejean, who educates the nation about the death penalty through lectures and writing from September to May, has witnessed six executions since 1984. She'll never forget any of them, she said.



She is the founder of Survive, a victim's advocacy group in New Orleans. She is currently ministering to two death-row inmates -- a man in Louisiana and a woman in Texas. Prejean also is working on her third book, "River of Fire."



In 1999, 98 executions were scheduled to take place. Some executions did not happen, and the number dropped to about 50 in 2001. The majority of those sitting on death-row are poor and minorities, she added.



Her success in spreading the word doesn't come without criticism. Some have accused Prejean of taking the side of the death-row inmates over the families of victims. But she assures that she is not taking anyone's side because all parties involved have suffered a loss.
Prejean maintains a relationship with some of the murder victims' families, some she met in the mid-1980s.



She said during a talk Sunday at The Oratory that one victim's father taught her "what it meant to be plunged into tragedy and to follow the path of grace." The father taught her about forgiveness when he said he didn't want love to be overcome by hatred.



Despite the emotional roller coaster of her ministry, she plans to continue the mission that was laid before her.



Tamara Ford • 329-4067


2 comments:

dudleysharp said...

Sister Helen Prejean ; her death penalty disinformation
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
 
I. Dead Family Walking : The Bourque Family Story of Dead Man Walking , by D. D. deVinci, Goldlamp Publishing, 2006
 
” . . .makes you realize the Dead Man Walking truly belongs on the shelf in the library in the Fiction category.”
 
“Being devout Catholics, ‘the norm’ would be to look to the church for support and healing. Again, this need for spiritual stability was stolen by Sister Prejean.”
 
The book alleges whole cloth fabrications by Sister Prejean within her book “Dead Man Walking”.
 
“On November 5, 1977, the Bourque’s teenage daughter, Loretta, was found murdered in a  trash pile near the city of New Iberia, Louisiana lying side by side near her boyfriend–with three well-placed bullet holes behind each head. ”
 
www(dot)deadfamilywalking.com/
 
contact     T.J. Edler, 337-967-0840, infogoldlamp(at)aol.com
 

II.  The Victims of Dead Man Walking
by Michael L. Varnado, Daniel P. Smith
 
comment –  A very different story than that written by Sister Helen Prejean. Detective Varnado was the investigating officer in the murder of Faith Hathaway. 2003
 
Detective Varnado writes: “For those who believe in the teachings of Sister Helen Prejean as her journey continues in her effort to abolish the death penalty. ‘For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And, no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:13 & 14'  ” –  From Detective Varnado’s new book Soft Targets; A Women’s Guide To Survival
 
III.   Sister Helen Prejean on the death penalty
 
“It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical ‘proof text’ in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus’ admonition ‘Let him without sin cast the first stone,’ when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) - the Mosaic Law prescribed death - should be read in its proper context. This passage is an ‘entrapment’ story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment .” Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking.
 
The sister’s analysis is consistent with much theological scholarship. Also, much scholarship questions the authenticity of John 8:7.
 
From here, the sister states that “ . . .  more and more I find myself steering away from such futile discussions (of Biblical text). Instead, I try to articulate what I personally believe . . . ” The sister has never shied away from any argument, futile or otherwise, which opposed the death penalty. She has abandoned biblical text for only one reason: the text conflicts with her personal beliefs.
 
Sister Prejean rightly cautions: “Many people sift through the Scriptures and select truth according to their own templates.” (Progressive, 1/96). Sadly, Sister Prejean appears to do much worse. The sister now uses that very same biblical text “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone” as proof of Jesus’ “unequivocal” rejection of capital punishment as “revenge and unholy retribution”!  (see Sister Prejean’s 12/12/96 fundraising letter on behalf of the Saga Of Shame book project for Quixote Center/Equal Justice USA).
 
IV. On God and the death penalty
 
It is not uncommon for persons of faith to create a god in their own image, to give to that god their values, instead of accepting those values which are inherent to the deity. For example, death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) states, in reference to the death penalty, that “I couldn’t worship a god who is less compassionate than I am.”(Progressive, 1/96). She has, thereby, established  her standard of compassion as the basis for God’s being deserving of her devotion. If God’s level of compassion does not rise to the level of her own, God couldn’t receive her worship. Director Tim Robbins (Death Man Walking) follows that same path: “(I) don’t believe in that kind of (g)od (that would support capital punishment and, therefore, would be the kind of god who tortures people into their redemption).” (”Opposing The Death Penalty”, AMERICA, 11/9/96, p 12). Robbins, hereby, establishes his standard for his God’s deserving of his belief. God’s standards do not seem to be relevant. His sophomoric comparison of capital punishment and torture is typical of the ignorance in this debate and such comments reflect no biblical relevancy. Perhaps they should review Matthew 5:17-22 and 15:1-9. Be cautious, for as the ancient rabbis warned, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33)
 
 
V. Redemption and the death penalty
 
The movie Dead Man Walking reveals a perfect example of how just punishment and redemption can work together. Had rapist/murderer Matthew Poncelet not been properly sentenced to death by the civil authority, he would not have met Sister Prejean, he would not have received spiritual instruction, he would not have taken responsibility for his crimes and he would not have reconciled with God. Had Poncelet never been caught or had he only been given a prison sentence, his character makes it VERY clear that those elements would not have come together. Indeed, for the entire film and up until those last moments, prior to his execution, Poncelet was not truthful with Sister Prejean. His lying and manipulative nature was fully exposed at that crucial time. It was not at all surprising, then, that it was just prior to his execution that all of the spiritual elements may have come together for his salvation. It was now, or never. Truly, just as St. Aquinas stated, it was Poncelet’s pending execution which may have led to his repentance. For Christians, the most crucial concerns of Dead Man Walking must be and are redemption and eternal salvation. And,  for that reason, it may well be, for Christians, the most important pro-death penalty movie ever made.
 
A real life example of this may be the case of Dennis Gentry, executed April 16, 1997, for the premeditated murder of his friend Jimmy Don Ham. During his final statement, Gentry said, “I’d like to thank the Lord for the past 14 years (on death row) to grow as a man and mature enough to accept what’s happening here tonight. To my family, I’m happy. I’m going home to Jesus.” As the lethal drugs began to flow, Gentry cried out, “Sweet Jesus, here I come. Take me home. I’m going that way to see the Lord.” (Michael Gracyk, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, 4/17/97).  We cannot know if Gentry or the fictitious Poncelet or the two real murderers from the DMW book really did repent and receive salvation.
 
But, we do know that St. Aquinas advises us that murderers should not be given the benefit of the doubt. We should err on the side of caution and not give murderers the opportunity to harm again.
 
“The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.
 

VI.   Death Of Truth:  Sister Prejean’s new book Death Of Innocents
 
For some years, there has existed a consistent pattern, from death penalty opponents, to declare certain death row inmates to be actually innocent. Those claims have, consistently, been 70-83% in error.  (”ALL INNOCENCE ISSUES — THE DEATH PENALTY”)
 
Keep that in mind with “Death of Innocents”.
 
Readers should be very careful, as they have no way of knowing if any of the fact issues in either of the two cases, as presented by Sister Prejean, are true.  Readers would have to conduct their own thorough, independent examination to make that determination. You can start here.
 
Four articles
 
(a) “FOR GOOD REASON, JOE O’DELL IS ON DEATH ROW”
scholar(DOT)lib.vt.edu/VA-news/VA-Pilot/issues/1995/vp950728/07210224.htm
 
quote: “The DNA report commissioned by O’Dell and his lawyers actually corroborates O’Dell’s guilt. There is a three-probe DNA match indicating that the bloodstains on O’Dell’s clothing is indeed consistent with the victim Helen Schartner’s DNA as well as her blood type and enzyme factors.” “There is certainly no truth to O’Dell’s accusation that evidence was suppressed or witnesses intimidated by the prosecution.”
 
(b) “Sabine district attorney disputes author’s claims in book”
www(DOT)shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050124/NEWS01/501240328/1060
 
quote: “I don’t know whether she is deliberately trying to mislead the public or if she’s being mislead by others. But she’s wrong,”
District Atty. Burkett, dburkett(AT)cp-tel.net

 
(c) Hardly The Death Of Innocents: Sister Prejean tells it like it wasn’t — Joseph O’Dell
by Anonymous, at author's request
 
In lionizing convicted murderer Joseph O’Dell as being an innocent man railroaded to his 1997 execution by Virginia prosecutors, Sister Helen Prejean presents a skewed summary of the case to bolster her anti-death penalty agenda. While she is a gifted speaker, she is out of her element when it comes to “telling it as it was” in these cases.
 
Prejean got to walk with O’Dell into the death chamber at Greensville Correctional Center on July 22, 1997. However, she wasn’t in Virginia Beach some 12 years earlier when he committed the crime for which he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. That is where the real demon was evident, not the sweet talking condemned con-man that she met behind bars. O’Dell was, in the words of then Virginia Beach Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Albert Alberi (case prosecutor), one of the most savage, dangerous criminals he had encountered in a two decade career.
 
Indeed,O’Dell had spent most of his adult life incarcerated for various crimes since the age of 13 in the mid-1950’s. At the time of the Schartner murder in Virginia, O’Dell had been recently paroled from Florida where he had been serving a 99 year sentence for a 1976 Jacksonville abduction that almost ended in a murder of the female victim (had not police arrived) in the back of his car.
 
The circumstances of that crime were almost identical to those surrounding Schartner’s murder. The victim of the Florida case even showed up in Virginia to testify at the trial.   Scarcely a mention of this case is made in the Prejean book.
 
Briefly, let me outline some of the facts about the case: Victim Helen Schartner’s blood was found on the passenger seat of Joseph O’Dell’s vehicle. Tire tracks matching those on O’Dell’s vehicle were found at the scene where Miss Schartner’s body was found. The tire tread design on O’Dell’s vehicle wheels were so unique, an expert in tire design couldn’t match them in a manual of thousands of other tire treads. The seminal fluids found on the victim’s body matched those of Mr. O’Dell and pubic hairs of the victim were found on the floor of his car.
 
The claims that O’Dell was “denied” his opportunity to present new DNA evidence on appeals were frivolous. In fact, he had every opportunity to come forward with this evidence, but his lawyers refused to reveal to the court the full findings of the tests which they had arranged to be done on a shirt with blood stains, which O’Dell’s counsel claimed might show did not have the blood marks from the defendant or the victim.
 
Manipulative defense lawyer tactics were overlooked by Prejean in her narrative.  O’Dell was far from a victim of poor counsel.  As matter of fact, the city of Virginia Beach and state government gave O’Dell an estimated $100,000 for his defense team at trial.  This unprecedented amount nearly bankrupted the entire indigent defense fund for the state. He had great lawyers, expert forensic investigators and every point at the trial was contested two to five times.
 
There was no “rush to justice” in this case.
 
O’Dell’s alibi for the night of Schartner’s murder was that he had gotten thrown out of the bar where he encountered Schartner following a brawl. However, none of the several dozen individuals supported his contention - there weren’t any fights that night. Rather, several saw Miss Schartner getting into O’Dell’s car on what would be her last ride.
 
But Prejean would want us to believe the claims of felon Joseph O’Dell.He had three trips to the United States Supreme Court and the “procedural error” which Prejean claims ultimately doomed him was the result of simple ignorance of basic appeals rules by his lawyers.
 
Nothing in the record ever suggested that Joseph O’Dell, two time killer and rapist, was anything but guilty of the murder of Helen Schartner.
 
Justice was properly served.

(d) Book Review: “Sister Prejean’s Lack of Credibility: Review of “The Death of Innocents”, by Thomas M. McKenna (New Oxford Review,  12/05).
 
“The book is moreover riddled with factual errors and misrepresentations.”
 
“Williams had confessed to repeatedly stabbing his victim, Sonya Knippers.”
 
“This DNA test was performed by an independent lab in Dallas, which concluded that there was a one in nearly four billion chance that the blood could have been someone’s other than Williams’s.”
 
” . . . despite repeated claims that (Prejean) cares about crime victims,  implies that the victim’s husband was a more likely suspect but was overlooked because the authorities wanted to convict a black man.”
 
” . . . a Federal District Court . . . stated that ‘the evidence against Williams was overwhelming.’  ” “The same court also did “not find any evidence of racial bias specific to this case.” 
 
“(Prejean’s) broad brush strokes paint individual jurors, prosecutors, and judges with the term “racist” with no facts, no evidence, and, in most cases, without so much as having spoken with the people she accuses.”
 
“Sr. Prejean also claims that Dobie Williams was mentally retarded. But the same federal judge who thought he deserved a new sentencing hearing also upheld the finding of the state Sanity Commission report on Williams, which concluded that he had a “low-average I.Q.,” and did not suffer from schizophrenia or other major affective disorders. Indeed, Williams’s own expert at trial concluded that Williams’s intelligence fell within the “normal” range. Prejean mentions none of these facts.”
 
“In addition to lying to the police about how he came to have blood on his clothes, the best evidence of O’Dell’s guilt was that Schartner’s (the rape/murder vicitim’s) blood was on his jacket. Testing showed that only three of every thousand people share the same blood characteristics as Schartner. Also, a cellmate of O’Dell’s testified that O’Dell told him he killed Schartner because she would not have sex with him.”
 
“After the trial, LifeCodes, a DNA lab that O’Dell himself praised as having “an impeccable reputation,” tested the blood on O’Dell’s jacket — and found that it was a genetic match to Schartner. When the results were not to his liking, O’Dell, and of course Sr. Prejean, attacked the reliability of the lab O’Dell had earlier praised. Again, as with Williams’s conviction, the federal court reviewing the case characterized the evidence against O’Dell as ‘vast’ and
‘overwhelming.’  ”

Sr. Prejean again sees nefarious forces at work. Not racism this time, for O’Dell was white. Rather, she charges that the prosecutors were motivated to convict by desire for advancement and judgeships. Yet she never contacted the prosecutors to interview them or anyone who might substantiate such a charge.
 
“(Prejean) omits the most damning portion of (O’Dell’s criminal) record: an abduction charge in Florida where O’Dell struck the victim on the head with a gun and told her that he was going to rape her. This very similar crime helped the jury conclude that O’Dell would be a future threat to society. It supports the other evidence of his guilt and thus undermines Prejean’s claim of innocence.”
 
“There is thus a moral equivalence for Prejean between the family of an innocent victim and the newfound girlfriend of a convicted rapist and murderer.”
 
“This curious definition of “the victims” suggests that her concern for “victims” seems to be more window-dressing for her cause than true concern.”
 
——————————————————————-
 
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa(AT)aol.com,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-Span, Court TV, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS 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.
 
Pro death penalty sites 
 
homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx
 
www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm  (Sweden)
 
Permission for distribution of this document is approved as long as it is distributed in its entirety, without changes, inclusive of this statement.

dudleysharp said...

The Death Penalty in the US: A Review
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
 
NOTE: Detailed review of any of the below topics, or others, is available upon request
 
In this brief format, the reality of the death penalty in the United States, is presented, with the hope that the media, public policy makers and others will make an effort to present a balanced view on this sanction.
 

Innocence Issues
 
Death Penalty opponents have proclaimed that 124 inmates have been "released from death row with evidence of their innocence", in the US, since the modern death penalty era began, post Furman v Georgia (1972).
 
That number is a fraud.
 
Those opponents have intentionally included both the factually innocent (the "I truly had nothing to do with the murder" cases) and the legally innocent (the "I got off because of legal errors" cases), thereby fraudulently raising the "innocent" numbers.
 
Death penalty opponents claim that 24 such innocence cases are in Florida. The Florida Commission on Capital Cases found that 4 of those 24 MIGHT be innocent -- an 83% error rate in death penalty opponents claims. If that error rate is consistent, nationally, that would indicate that 21 of the alleged 124 innocents MIGHT be actually innocent -- a 0.3% actual guilt error rate for the 7800 sentenced to death since 1973. 
 
It is often claimed that 23 innocents have been executed in the US since 1900.  Nonsense.  Even the authors of that "23 innocents executed" study proclaimed "We agree with our critics, we never proved those (23) executed to be innocent; we never claimed that we had."  While no one would claim that an innocent has never been executed, there is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.
 
No one disputes that innocents are found guilty, within all countries.  However, when scrutinizing death penalty opponents claims, we find that when reviewing the accuracy of verdicts and the post conviction thoroughness of discovering those actually innocent incarcerated, that the US death penalty process may be the most accurate criminal justice sanction in the world.  Under real world scenarios, not executing murderers will always put many more innocents at risk, than will ever be put at risk of execution.
 

Deterrence Issues
 
12 recent US studies, inclusive of strong defenses of the studies,  find a deterrent effect of the death penalty.
 
All the studies which have not found a deterrent effect of the death penalty have refused to say that it does not deter some.  The studies finding for deterrence state such.  Confusion arises when people think that a simple comparison of murder rates and executions, or the lack thereof, can tell the tale of deterrence.  It cannot. 
 
Both high and low murder rates are found within death penalty and non death penalty jurisdictions, be it Singapore, South Africa, Sweden or Japan, or the US states of Michigan and Delaware.  Many factors are involved in such evaluations.  Reason and common sense tell us that it would be remarkable to find that the most severe criminal sanction -- execution -- deterred none.  No one is foolish enough to suggest that the potential for negative consequences does not deter the behavior of some.  Therefore, regardless of jurisdiction, having the death penalty will always be an added deterrent to murders, over and above any lesser punishments.
 

Racial issues
 
White murderers are twice as likely to be executed in the US as are black murderers and are executed, on average, 12 months more quickly than are black death row inmates.
 
It is often stated that it is the race of the victim which decides who is prosecuted in death penalty cases.  Although blacks and whites make up about an equal number of murder victims, capital cases are 6 times more likely to involve white victim murders than black victim murders.  This, so the logic goes, is proof that the US only cares about white victims.
 
Hardly.  Only capital murders, not all murders, are subject to a capital indictment.  Generally, a capital murder is limited to murders plus secondary aggravating factors, such as murders involving burglary, carjacking, rape, and additional murders, such as police murders, serial and multiple murders.  White victims are, overwhelmingly, the victims under those circumstances, in ratios nearly identical to the cases found on death row.
 
Any other racial combinations of defendants and/or their victims in death penalty cases, is a reflection of the crimes committed and not any racial bias within the system, as confirmed by studies from the Rand Corporation (1991), Smith College (1994), U of Maryland (2002), New Jersey Supreme Court (2003) and by a view of criminal justice statistics, within a framework of the secondary aggravating factors necessary for capital indictments.
 

Class issues
 
No one disputes that wealthier defendants can hire better lawyers and, therefore, should have a legal advantage over their poorer counterparts.  The US has executed about 0.15% of all murderers since new death penalty statutes were enacted in 1973.  Is there evidence that wealthier capital murderers are less likely to be executed than their poorer ilk, based upon the proportion of capital murders committed by different those different economic groups?
 

Arbitrary and capricious
 
About 10% of all murders within the US might qualify for a death penalty eligible trial.  That would be about 60,000 murders since 1973.  We have sentenced 7800 murderers to death since then, or 13% of those eligible.  I doubt that there is any other crime which receives a higher percentage of maximum sentences, when mandatory sentences are not available.  Based upon that, as well as pre trial, trial, appellate and clemency/commutation realities, the US death penalty is likely the least arbitrary and capricious criminal sanctions in the world.  
 

Christianity and the death penalty
 
The two most authoritative New Testament scholars, Saints Augustine and Aquinas, provide substantial biblical and theological support for the death penalty. Even the most well known anti death penalty personality in the US, Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, states that "It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical 'proof text' in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this.  Even Jesus' admonition 'Let him without sin cast the first stone,' when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) -- the Mosaic Law prescribed death -- should be read in its proper context.  This passage is an 'entrapment' story, which sought to show Jesus' wisdom in besting His adversaries.  It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment."  A thorough review of Pope John Paul II's current position, reflects a reasoning that should be recommending more executions.
 

Cost Issues
 
All studies finding the death penalty to be more expensive than life without parole exclude important factors, such as (1) geriatric care costs, recently found to be $69,0000/yr/inmate, (2) the death penalty cost benefit of providing for plea bargains to a maximum life sentence, a huge cost savings to the state, (3) the death penalty cost benefit of both enhanced deterrence and enhanced incapacitation, at $5 million per innocent life spared, and, furthermore, (4) many of the alleged cost comparison studies are highly deceptive.
 

Polling data
 
76% of Americans find that we should impose the death penalty more or that we impose it about right (Gallup, May 2006 - 51% that we should impose it more, 25% that we impose it about right)
 
71%  find capital punishment morally acceptable - that was the highest percentage answer for all questions (Gallup, April 2006, moral values poll).
 
81% of the American people supported the execution of Timothy McVeigh, with only 16% opposed. "(T)his view appears to be the consensus of all major groups in society, including men, women, whites, nonwhites, "liberals" and "conservatives."  (Gallup 5/2/01).
 
85% of Connecticut citizens supported the execution of serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross (Jan 2005).
 
While 81% gave specific case support for Timothy McVeigh's execution, Gallup also showed a 65% support AT THE SAME TIME when asked a general "do you support capital punishment for murderers?" question. (Gallup, 6/10/01).
 
22% of those supporting McVeigh's execution are, generally, against the death penalty (Gallup 5/02/01). That means that about half of those who say they oppose the death penalty, with the general question,  actually support the death penalty under specific circumstances, just as it is imposed, judicially.
 
Further supporting the higher rates for specific cases, is this, from the French daily Le Monde December 2006 (1): Percentage of respondents in favor of executing Saddam Hussein:USA: 82%; Great Britain: 69%; France: 58%; Germany: 53%; Spain: 51%; Italy: 46%
 
Death penalty support is much deeper and much wider than we are often led to believe, with 50% of those who say they, generally, oppose the death penalty actually supporting it under specific circumstances, resulting in 80% death penalty support in the US, as recently as December 2006.
 
--------------------------------
 
Whatever your feelings are toward the death penalty, a fair accounting of how it is applied should be demanded.
 
copyright 1998-2007 Dudley Sharp
 
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 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.
 
Pro death penalty sites 
homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
joshmarquis(dot)blogspot.com/
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_contents.htm  (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

Permission for distribution of this document is approved as long as it is distributed in its entirety, without changes, inclusive of this statement.