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Quote Author Cited
In any country there must be people who have to die. They are the sacrifices any nation has to make to achieve law and order. Idi Amin
I don't think I would want the responsibility for enforcing the death penalties. There's always the inevitable question of whether someone you gave the order to execute might truly have been innocent. Jesse Ventura
I went out to Charing Cross to see Major General Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could in that condition. Samuel Pepys
Let the punishments of criminals be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing; a man condemned to public works still serves the country, and is a living lesson. Voltaire
Corporal punishment is as humiliating for him who gives it as for him who receives it; it is ineffective besides. Neither shame nor physical pain have any other effect than a hardening one. Ellen Key
Show my head to the people, it is worth seeing. Georges Jacques Danton
So long as governments set the example of killing their enemies, private individuals will occasionally kill theirs. Elbert Hubbard
I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment. James Madison
What makes someone too mentally ill to be executed? There is no clean answer to this question. But the attempt to answer it consumes substantial resources. If capital punishment had a demonstrable impact on crime, it might make sense to struggle with such a difficult balancing. But any deterrent effect is trivial at best, so the effort devoted to these decisions is wasted. Jeffrey Alan Miron
When a mad man is executed, it is a miserable spectacle, both against law, and of extreme inhumanity and cruelty, and can be no example to others. Edward Coke
…cold and rude slaves would hardly consider privation of life as a punishment, unless accompanied by such cruel circumstances as greatly aggravate their bodily suffering. South Africa
Forty or fifty executions now would in the next twelve months save thousands of lives. William Tecumseh Sherman
Yesterday afternoon 247 Spanish and Canary Island prisoners were decapitated. Today all the Spaniards and Canary Islanders who were sick in the hospital were decapitated, constituting the last of all those included in the order of Your Excellency. Palacio
Capital punishment is vindictive – it is vengeful. Jerry Falwell
Brown’s execution will make the gallows as glorious as the cross. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every time when there is an exoneration, and there have been hundreds of them, and somebody walks out of jail after years, people ask, “how could this happen?” …. State sanctioned killing is just wrong. John Grisham
Socrates was executed … not for his megalomania or grandiose propositions or certitudes, but for stubbornly doubting the absolute truths of others. John Ralston Saul
A growing number of courts outside the United States--- courts that accept or assume the lawfulness of the death penalty--- have held that lengthy delay in administering a lawful death penalty renders the ultimate execution inhuman, degrading, or unusually cruel.” Stephen Breyer
No one shall be sentenced to death, tortured or otherwise treated in a manner violating human dignity. Finland
I’m not necessarily against the death penalty. But I am damn sure against the wrong man getting executed. Kinky Friedman
The United States now stands alone in a world that has turned its face against the juvenile death penalty. Anthony Kennedy
You have been tried by twelve good men and true, not of your peers but as high above you as heaven is of hell, and they have said you are guilty. Time will pass and seasons will come and go. Spring with its waving green grass and heaps of sweet-smelling flowers on every hill and in every dale. Then sultry Summer, with her shimmering heat-waves on the baked horizon. And Fall, with her yeller harvest moon and the hills growing brown and golden under a sinking sun. And finally Winter, with its biting, whining wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow. But you won't be here to see any of 'em; not by a damn sight, because it's the order of this court that you be took to the nearest tree and hanged by the neck till you're dead, dead, dead, you olive-colored son of a billy goat. Roy Bean
The mechanism falls like thunder. Blood spurts. The man is no more. Joseph Ignace Guillotin
Punishment should have a redemptive quality to it. Andrew Rivas
I support the death penalty morally and philosophically…. But if we have a death penalty it must be administered impartially and fairly and it is not. Richard Land
I appreciate that some people within our state are impatient, impatient to see executions. I don't think anybody in this state will sit easy if, in fact, this becomes a court that ensures nothing but executions to appease the overweening and insatiable attitude of ambitious politicians’ Rose Bird
I feel strongly about the sanctity of life, and I have argued against the death penalty. But I believe as an individual justice I can make a determination based on issues and not on preconceived notions. Rose Bird
I have reached the conviction that the abolition of the death penalty is desirable. Reasons: (1) Irreversibility in the event of an error in justice; (2) detrimental moral influence on those who have to carry out the procedure. Albert Einstein
Can you imagine millions demonstrating in Iraq, calling for same-sex marriage, like in Sweden, America, and Britain? Same-sex marriages means a marriage of a man with a man, or a woman with a woman. This is a terrible catastrophe, totally forbidden by Islam. Whoever marries someone of the same sex must be killed. Both must be killed as soon as possible and must be burned as well. Ahmad Hassani Baghdadi
Your majesty ... give the assassins money and send them away somewhere to America, and write a manifesto starting with the words: 'but I say to you, love your enemies,'....from these words, like a flood, goodness and love would pour forth over Russia. Leo Tolstoy
Weep! There, near the edge of Sofia town / Stretches -- I saw it -- a dismal gallows / And one of your sons, Bulgaria / Hangs from it with a terrible power. Hristo Botev
If we are trying to establish a culture of life, it’s difficult to have the state sponsoring executions. Sam Brownback
God himself instituted capital punishment as a remedy for certain crimes, at the very least murder…All life is so sacred that anyone who takes it is required to pay the same penalty. Barrett Duke
The hanging of black men for murder and the inflicting of a lighter punishment upon white men for the same offense will not have a very beneficial effect upon the black population. Such partiality in the administration of justice will embitter the blacks and will give greater license in the commission of crimes of violence to the whites. Criminals, white and blacks, must be treated alike. Before the infliction of the death penalty will do the good it ought to there must be a public sentiment that will demand that there shall be no leniency shown by courts and juries to white murderers. Emanuel King Love
He who slanders the Prophet Muhammad—or calls him a liar in relation to his message—or insults one of the prophets whose name appears in the Koran, is to be killed … without his repentance being taken into consideration Abdurrahmani'l-Djaziri
The death penalty is abolished – even at the front! Russia
Murder cases in which the victim was white were almost twice as likely to result in the death penalty as cases in which the victim was black, and blacks who killed whites were two and a half times more likely to be sentenced to death than whites who killed whites. Parris Glendening
If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by our friends the murders. Alphonse Karr
The insult has been established now by everybody, Muslim and non-Muslim, and everybody condemns the cartoonist and condemns the cartoon, ... However, God said, and the messenger Mohammed said, whoever insults a prophet, he must be punished and executed. This man should be put on trial and if it is proven he must be executed. ... If anybody insults the prophet, he will have to take a punishment. If countries refuse to put people on trial for insulting Mohammed they must face the consequences... Mohammed Omar
Then I had not read Camu. Robert Kennedy
The execution of malefactors is not more for the credit of governors than the death of patients is for the credit of physicians. Anonymous
The killing of people is a proper practice because if there is no killing there will be no fear. Anonymous
Item: For baskets and packing of said heads, legs and arms. Anonymous
To be taken to the Castle of Edinburgh and there his head to be struck from his body. Anonymous
… who are weekly sacrificed upon the gallows in sufficient numbers to astonish a civilized people Abigail Adams
Those responsible for social insecurity will receive harsher punishment Abbas-Ali Alizadeh
I support public hanging for its deterrent effect. Wayne Allard
If forgers and other malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy. Thomas Aquinas
The death penalty saves lives. John Ashcroft
No defendant should be executed until we assure that the imposition of the ultimate sanction is not the result of inadequate counsel or lack of due process. Martha Barnett
There is no justification for execution by the state under modern circumstances … Bishops have testified against it, popes talk about it constantly and it has the same status as abortion in terms of rejection. Zebulan Bartels
The death penalty scares the hell out of me. We now see about one out of eight errors in these convictions. Warren Beatty
Civil death is abolished; it cannot be brought back into force. Belgium
A man will show no mercy, and then plead to God for mercy! Wisdom of Ben Sira
The killing of a criminal can be moral, but never its legitimation. Walter Benjamin
For God's sake, if you acknowledge that you should not put children to death, acknowledge that you should not put to death the mentally retarded. Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Capital punishment is about portraying people as devils, but women are usually seen as less threatening Leigh Bienen
The death penalty experiment has failed …. I will no longer tinker with the machinery of death. Harry A. Blackmun
The execution of a person who can show that he is innocent comes perilously close to simple murder. Harry A. Blackmun
There is no deterrent effect whatsoever by the presence of the death penalty. Harry A. Blackmun
Christ’s crucifix shall be made an excuse for executing criminals. William Blake
The death penalty as been a gross failure. Beyond its horror and incivility, it has neither protected the innocent nor deterred the wicked. The recurrent spectacle of publicly sanctioned killing has cheapened human life and dignity without the grace which comes from justice meted out swiftly, evenly, humanely. Edmond G. Brown
Drug dealers need to understand a simple fact. You shoot a cop and you're going to be severely punished—fast. And if I had my way, I'd say with your life. George W. Bush
People want to kill people because they don't want them out on the street again. Patrick Caddell
What then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be an equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal, who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him, and who from that moment onward had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life. Albert Camus
I have always been horrified by death sentences, and I decided, as an individual at least, that I could not participate in one, even by abstention … Tell him from me that I did not add my signature to yours for his sake, nor for the person whom I despise with all the force that is in me. Albert Camus
The death penalty will seem to the next generation, as it seems to many even now, an anachronism too discordant to be suffered, mocking with grim reproach all our clamorous professions of the sanctity of life. Benjamin N. Cardozo
The thirst for vengeance is a very real, even if a hideous, thing; and states may not ignore it till humanity has been raised to greater heights than any that have yet been scaled in all the long ages of struggle and ascent. Benjamin N. Cardozo
On this Good Friday, a day when we recall our Savior’s own execution, we appeal to all people of goodwill, and especially Catholics, to work to end the death penalty …. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life. Catholic Bishops
Why does the new crime bill have so many new ways of killing people? Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
It seems perfectly simple and inevitable, like lying down after a long day's work. Robert Erskine Childers
Take a step forward, lads. It will be easier that way. Robert Erskine Childers
Of all the remedies a civilized society uses to punish people for committing a crime, I don't think killing people is one of them. Kenneth Clarke
You have to reject a machoism. You have to identify with the wimps. You know, there is a certain perception of wimpishness about being against the death penalty. I mean, some of my colleagues say to me, "Fry these vermin, John. What's the problem, man? John Conyers
I'm pro-death. I believe in the death penalty. Let's get on with it. Richard M. Daley
Do you think you can cure the hatreds and maladjustments of the world by hanging them? Clarence Darrow
I have never wanted to see anybody die, but there are a few obituary notices I have read with pleasure. Clarence Darrow
… the gallows, surrounded by a witless crowd with an insatiable blood lust … Chavelier de Lorimier
It’s a very unique job. Not many people are willing to do this or can do this. Kenneth Dean
Judging by past experience, a substantial number of death row inmates are indeed innocent and there is a high risk that some of them will be executed. Once an execution occurs, the error is final. Richard C. Dieter; Don Edwards
Sooner of later, universal human rights will include the right not to be killed by the government. Richard C. Dieter
Those who favor capital punishment do so in the name of justice. Can there be any argument against insisting that it be imposed justly—and not on the wrong people. E. J. Dionne Jr.
Are we deluding ourselves that by snuffing out the lives of our misfits, our nitwits and our psychopathic personalities, we are creating a better world for ourselves. Michael V. DiSalle
The warden strapped these men into the electric chair / the executioner threw the switch / and set them free into the wind / they are free of the dreams now / free of the greasy prison denim / their voices blow back in a thousand lingoes singing one song / to burst the eardrums of Massachusetts. John Dos Passos
It will put a lasting curse on our poor country. Isadora Duncan
I believe that capital punishment serves no useful purpose and is a form of revenge. Robert Greene Elliott
A person who is no longer with us has a rather difficult time proving his innocence …. In Texas and elsewhere in the country, people’s innocence is determined by their income. Rodney Ellis
It's a terrible commentary on society, but I'm afraid we have reached the point where some people, by their acts, do give up their right to survive. Dianne Feinstein
Let no more gods or exploiters be served. Let us learn rather to love one another. Francisco Ferrer
We should execute 27, or 30 or 35 people at one time. Newt Gingrich
It [the death penalty] is a phony issue. To pretend the death penalty is going to end crime in the United States is to fool people, to promote public ignorance. Rudolph W. Giuliani
I don’t trust the government to decide who lives and who dies. Michael Graham
Having fully expressed our conviction that the punishment of death is one which should sometimes be inflicted, we may add that we would have it resorted to as unfrequently as possible. Horace Greeley
Does capital punishment tend to the security of the people? By no means. It hardens the hearts of men, and makes the loss of life appear light to them. Elizabeth Fry
Within the realm of the law, we have to be as severe as we can. We will not simply give capital punishment to all criminals, but those who deserve it will get it. Fu Changlu
Those who murdered whites were ... more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks. General Accounting Office
Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Book of Genesis
You ... are to be hanged by the neck, but not until you are dead; for while you are still living your bodies are to be taken down, your bowels torn out and burned before your faces, your heads then cut off, and your bodies divided each into four quarters to be then at the King's disposal; and may the Almighty God have mercy on your souls. George III
God is glorified by this exemplary punishment. Alexander Findlater
I was tried here in this room for murder and I was convicted of Anarchy.... If the ruling classes think that by hanging us, hanging a few Anarchists, they can crush out Anarchy, they will be badly mistaken, because the Anarchist loves his principles more than his life. An Anarchist is always ready to die for his principles. Albert Fischer
The death penalty serves social justice. James J. Florio
I will make Mississippi the capital of capital punishment. Kirk Fordice
Every one shall die for his own iniquity. Book of Jeremiah
I am opposed to the anti-lynching bill because the Federal Government has no more business enacting a law against one kind of murder than another. Lyndon B. Johnson
To equal robbery with murder is to reduce murder to robbery, to confound in common minds the gradations if iniquity, and incite the commission of a greater crime to prevent the detection of a less. Samuel Johnson
The system is not perfect. Reversals prove that the system works. John Justice
He shall hang though every dog in Quebec bark in his favor. John A. MacDonald
All power, all subordination to authority rests on the executioner …. Remove this incomprehensible agent from the world and at that very moment order gives way to chaos, thrones topple and society disappears. Joseph de Maistre
I don't get any damn pleasure out of the death penalty and I never have .... If they abolished it tomorrow, I'd go out and get drunk in celebration. Ray Marky
I'm guilty as sin. I did something morally wrong. I gave in to the prestige and power, the things that went with my job. I knew that the Governor, the man that appointed me, wanted no recommendation for clemency in any death case. Howard Marsellus
There is certainly nothing anomalous in punishing the crime of murder differently in different jurisdictions. Joseph McKenna
Let no one hurt him. William McKinley
The highest and ultimate political power is capital punishment. Philip Melanchthon
A people who are revolted by an execution, but not shocked at an assassination--require that the public authorities should be armed with much sterner powers of repression than elsewhere, since the first indispensable requisites of civilized life have nothing else to rest on. John Stuart Mill
At the moment my head is my own. In a moment it will be yours and you can do with it what you will. James Graham Montrose
The blood of a Muslim may not be legally spilled other than in one of three [instances] : the married person who commits adultery; a life for a life; and one who forsakes his religion and abandons the community Muhammad
If you’re going to have the death penalty, you had better be sure that you have the right man. Patrick Leahy
I am a proponent of capital punishment. I am not a proponent of capital torture. Fred A. Leuchter Jr.
Of the ten crimes which Biblical Hebrew law punished by stoning, nine have ceased to be offenses in modern society. Joseph Lewis
I could not afford to hang men for votes. Abraham Lincoln
The Extermination of Regime Criminals Act Martin Lindstedt
I even opposed the death penalty for the man who killed my brother . Edward M. Kennedy
Capital punishment may not be much of a deterrent against murder, but the sight of a few corpses swinging from a scaffold might work with drug dealers. James J. Kilpatrick
Executions are not psychological events for the healing of the victims’ families. They are moral events. Charles Krauthammer
The punishment of death is pernicious to society, from the example of barbarity it affords. If the passions, or the necessity of war, have taught men to shed the blood of their fellow creatures, the laws, which are intended to moderate the ferocity of mankind, should not increase it by examples of barbarity, the more horrible as this punishment is usually attended with formal pageantry. Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves? Cesare Beccaria
A system that will take life must first give justice. John J. Curtin Jr.
The greatest and most grievous punishment used in England for such as offend against the State is drawing from the prison to the place of execution upon an hurdle or sled, where they are hanged till they be half dead, and then taken down, and quartered alive; after that, their members and bowels are cut from their bodies, and thrown into a fire, provided near hand and within their own sight, even for the same purpose. William Harrison
If a thief commits a theft by night, if the owner kills the thief, the thief shall be killed lawfully Rome
Even if the exercise of my responsibility becomes my burden, I’ll bear it. But I can tell you I am going to sleep well tonight knowing I’ve made the right decision. George Ryan
I don’t see how the Justice Department thinks they have a system that works when 50 percent of the [appeals] cases get sent back for fixing…. How does that happen? How in God’s name does that happen? Here in America. How many more cases of wrongful conviction before we can agree that the system … is broken. George Ryan
The United States sets the example for the rest of the world. But we are not in league with most of the most of the rest of the world on the death penalty. We are in league with China and Saudi Arabia. George Ryan
This is the one issue [the death penalty] that I have received more advice about than any issue in 35 years of public life…. Whatever I decide, one side or the other will not accept it. George Ryan
The death penalty has always been fraught with racial bias…. I cannot understand how people can find pleasure in, or believe that civilized values are served by, the killing of another human being. Bianca Jagger
Capital Punishment is a non-diminishable command of God. No pope has the authority to go against God's stated will. David Trosch
A slave who shall aid and abet the slave so endeavoring to entice another slave to run away shall also suffer death. Maryland
I repudiate as much as any man can anyone, whether he be a white brute or a black brute, who commits an assault upon any woman, whether a white woman or a black woman. I think such a man ought to be hung--hung by the neck until dead. But it ought to be done by the courts, not by an infuriated mob George Henry White
The abolition of death penalty would give more opportunities for pastoral work with those who have stumbled and for the latter to repent. It is also evident that punishment by death cannot be reformatory; it also makes misjudgement irreparable Russian Orthodox Church
Capt. Gordon is as responsible for the death of those on the Erie. As if he had taken the life of each by his own hand. For once, when no doubt exists as to guilt, a terrible example should be made. New York Times
There is always a political issue whenever you empower a state to kill its own citizens … the abuse of the power as in Europe of the 20th century is the problem …. If we believe that some people ought to receive the death penalty for their crimes, there appears to be no way of executing the ones who should receive the death penalty without sweeping in ones who do not. Scott Turow
I do not criticize anyone’s position on the death penalty as I myself have held every different position at one point of my career or another. Scott Turow
I don’t like the death penalty but it was the law in Ohio. Therefore as a prosecutor I sought the death penalty and as a judge I imposed the death penalty. It was the law and you have to obey the law. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
It seems to me a very unjust thing to take away a man's life for [stealing] a little money; for nothing in the world can be of equal value with a man's life: and if it is said that it is not for the money that one suffers, but for his breaking the law, I must say extreme justice is an extreme injury; for we ought not to approve of these terrible laws that make the smallest offences capital, nor of that opinion of the Stoics that makes all crimes equal, as if there were no difference to be made between the killing a man and the taking his purse, between which, if we examine things impartially, there is no likeness nor proportion. God has commanded us not to kill, and shall we kill so easily for a little money? Thomas More
Why should not insolvent Thieves be rather punished with slavery then death? so as being slaves they may be forced to as much labour, and as cheap fare, as nature will endure, and thereby become as two men added to the Commonwealth, and not as one taken away from it; William Petty
If, as is contended by the advocates of “deterrence,” cruelty in punishment is justified by the “deterrent” effect which these persons credit it with, then surely the rack, the wheel, and the thumbscrew are the last word of penal wisdom. If hanging and the plank-bed are “deterrent” and hence justifiable, then … the stake and the rack are more “deterrent” and hence more justifiable. E. Belfort Bax
So long as danger threatened from without public opinion tolerated the guillotine. E. Belfort Bax
Where the death penalty is involved, our criminal justice system essentially reserves the death penalty for murderers (regardless of their race) who kill white victims. Hugo Adam Bedau
Any punishment can be an effective deterrent only if it is consistently and promptly employed. Capital punishment cannot be administered to meet these conditions. Hugo Adam Bedau
Don’t conflate the morality of the death penalty with its unjust distribution among those who are guilty … Equality is less important, morally, than justice … We ought to distribute justice as equally as we can, even though we cannot distribute it perfectly. Ernest van den Haag
One abstains from dangerous acts because of vague, inchoate, habitual and, above all, preconscious fears. Ernest van den Haag
I feel morally and intellectually required to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. Harry A. Blackmun
An overzealous prosecutor ….an underpaid, inexperienced defense attorney Bill Curtis
For the believing Christian, death is no big deal….For the nonbeliever, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence. What a horrible act! Antonin Scalia
… cast into a burning hell James Henry Lane
It may sound incredible, but they seemed more interested in the ball game. Wilfred L. Denno
The death penalty does absolutely nothing to deter crime. Robert Morgenthau
How can you make a revolution without executions? Vladimir Lenin
Leopold and Loeb had the reputation of being immoral … degenerates of the worst type … The evidence shows that both defendants are atheists and followers of the Nietzschean doctrines … it is unfortunate for the community that they were not sentenced to death. Robert E. Crowe
It is not a cruelty to kill blasphemers, rather blasphemy itself is such an enormous brutality that the one who commits it neither has got a right to live in this world nor is there any pardon for the blasphemer. Muslims won't tolerate even a slightest blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. If (anyone) committed blasphemy, he would be beheaded. Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi
I was under huge pressure 2 bow down b4 rightest pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I am the last man standing. Salman Taseer
It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty. Anthony Kennedy
In Iran they believe that girls who are virgins go to heaven. So when a young woman is in prison to be executed, they rape her before they kill her. James Woolsey
When the state murders, it assumes an authority I refuse to concede: the authority of perfect knowledge in final things. John Leonard
What is murder in the first degree? It is the cruel, calculated, cold-blooded killing of a fellow human man. It is the most wicked of crimes and the State is guilty of it every time it executes a human being. William Randolph Hearst
I want to see if she is serious about the death penalty. Orrin Hatch
My machine [the guillotine] will take off a head in a twinkling and the victim will feel nothing but a refreshing coolness. We cannot make too much haste, gentlemen, to allow the nation to enjoy this advantage. Joseph Ignace Guillotin
I'd rather lock somebody up and throw away the key and put them in hard labor, the ultimate penalty that the law will allow, but I'm opposed to the death penalty Michael Bloomberg
Severity of punishment is not the cure for crime. Certainty and promptness of punishment rather than severity are more effective. There was a time, as we all know, when in England considerably more than two hundred separate offenses were punishable by death. Nevertheless, that period was one of the most lawless and violent known to history. The utter failure of the drastic technique in the suppression of crime is universally acknowledged. Karl T. Frederick
I forbid that any one be killed or hung for any fault but his eyes shall be torn out or his testicles cut off. And this command shall not be violated under penalty of a fine in full to me. William I
Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock Alan Shadrake
In a true Islamic state, such punishments as execution were part of Islam if the person had had a trial, at which four witnesses testified that they had seen the actual homosexual acts. In an Islamic state these punishments are justified. Arshad Muhammad Misbahi
Suicide's a criminal offense — In less enlightened times they'd have hung you for it. Peter Edward Cook
People believe in capital punishment to the extent that it seems to be fair, but if fairness is in question, they prefer life imprisonment…. The death penalty as a way of deterrence is just not turning out to be true. Charles Ogletree
We cannot allow the spectacle of constant executions to be swept under the rug. We know that already over 100 individuals who were put on death row have been released. And we should shudder to think how many people have been sent to their deaths that were innocent. Russ Feingold
The death penalty is as random as being struck by lightning. Potter Stewart
Countries that give up this penalty award an unimaginable advantage to the criminal over his victim. Lech Kaczynski
Chop off that head which does not bow to the Lord, O Nanak. Angad Dev Ji
Is it right for us, as a society, to do a thing – hang a man – which none of us individually would be prepared to do or even witness? The answer is 'no, not in a civilized society Alfred Denning
And so you take criminal caitiffs, murderers, and the like, and hang them on gibbets "for an example to deter others." Whereupon arise friends of humanity, and object. With very great reason, as I consider, if your hypothesis be correct. What right have you to hang any poor creature "for an example"? He can turn round upon you and say, "Why make an 'example' of me, a merely ill-situated, pitiable man? Have you no more respect for misfortune? Misfortune, I have been told, is sacred. And yet you hang me, now I am fallen into your hands; choke the life out of me, for an example! Again I ask, Why make an example of me, for your own convenience alone? Thomas Carlyle
If it had not been for these things, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. This is our career and our triumph. Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man as now we do by accident. Our words — our lives — our pains — nothing! The taking of our lives — lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler — all! That last moment belongs to us — that agony is our triumph. Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Save Sacco and Vanzetti Anonymous
When the lever is pulled, the body twists and shudders violently, cooks and sizzles obscenely, and emits horrible noises from the nose, mouth and anus…Chapman said it was the ghastliest mode of death he could have conjured, short of slow torture, and that no sane person who witnessed it could possibly oppose its replacement by a less violent means of execution. Bill Wiseman
I just felt sick. I was actually executing people. I knew it was wrong, and I should have voted against it. But I didn’t. Bill Wiseman
O you who believe! retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain. Muhammad
Capital punishment would be more effective as a preventive measure if it were administered prior to the crime. Woody Allen
I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. Socrates
In all things there must be order, but it must of such a kind as is possible to observe...to see a man burnt for doing as he thought right, harms the people, for this is a matter of conscience. William of Orange
Men are not hang'd for stealing Horses, but that Horses may not be stolen. George Savile
Capital punishment is impractical, unjust, inadmissible. It has never repressed crime—for a second crime is every day committed at the foot of the scaffold Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade
If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot Brigham Young
For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists. Albert Camus
More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain [in the Bible.] Mark Twain
There are people (men and women both, unfortunately) who have no good in them--none. That there are people whom it is necessary to detest without compromise. That there are people who must be dealt with as enemies of the human race. That there are people who have no human heart, and who must be crushed like savage beasts and cleared out of the way Charles Dickens
The policy of depriving capital executions of their present publicity is well worthy of careful revision; and Sir James Graham, in obedience to your Majesty's desire, will bring the subject under the notice of his colleagues. He is disposed to think that the sentence might be carried into execution in the presence of a Jury to be summoned by the Sheriff with good effect; and that the great body of idle spectators might be excluded, without diminishing the salutary terror and awful warning which this extreme punishment is intended to produce on the public mind. In dealing, however, with a matter in which the community has so deep an interest, it is prudent not to violate public opinion, and caution is necessary before a change of the long-established usage is proposed. James Robert George Graham
I’ll believe that a corporation is a person when Texas executes one. Anonymous
Labor has a universal position of opposition to the death penalty both at home and abroad... It is not possible in our view to be selective in the application of this policy. Kevin Rudd
As governor, I came to believe that the death penalty would be a just punishment for certain, especially heinous crimes, such as the murder of a child or the murder of a police officer. The events of September 11 convinced me that terrorists also deserve the ultimate punishment. Howard Dean
I will always be against the death penalty until the infallibility of human judgement is demonstrated to me. Marquis de Lafayette; Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier
I personally have always voted for the death penalty because I believe that people who go out prepared to take the lives of other people forfeit their own right to live. I believe that that death penalty should be used only very rarely, but I believe that no-one should go out certain that no matter how cruel, how vicious, how hideous their murder, they themselves will not suffer the death penalty. Margaret Thatcher
Some wonder why I have such a feeling of concern over the imposition of the death penalty. I ask those who wonder how would you feel if you defended a man charged with murder, who was as innocent as any hon. member in this House at this very moment, who was convicted; whose appeal was dismissed, who was executed; and six months later the star witness for the Crown admitted that he, himself, had committed the murder and blamed it on the accused? That experience will never be effaced from my memory. John G. Diefenbaker
Was the blood which has just been shed so pure? Antoine Barnave
Cruel necessity Oliver Cromwell
Even capital punishment could not make price control work in the days of Emperor Diocletian and the French Revolution. Ludwig von Mises
I oppose the death penalty other than in cases of real international and domestic terrorism. John Kerry
It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. Albert Camus
I don’t think its right to have a criminal justice system that puts innocent people to death. John Kerry
Afterwards the King sent out his messengers into divers parts, to capture the malefactors and put them to death. And many were taken and hanged at London, and they set up many gallows around the City of London, and in other cities and boroughs of the south country. At last, as it pleased God, the King seeing that too many of his liege subjects would be undone, and too much blood split, took pity in his heart, and granted them all pardon, on condition that they should never rise again, under pain of losing life or members, and that each of them should get his charter of pardon, and pay the King as fee for his seal twenty shillings, to make him rich. And so finished this wicked war. Anonymous
The punishment for new thought or expressing a different opinion is death Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Bloody Code Anonymous
I would have no moral objection to publicly beheading drug dealers. William Bennett
I have lost no sleep over the possibility that an innocent man might be executed. Rick Perry
Kill the Gays Bill Anonymous
… human life and limb are a very special possession given by God to man and that no one has the right to take that away, in any cause, however just... Cesar Chavez
The system of death-penalty justice is compromised and inequitable. John Kitzhaber
I do not believe that these executions made us safer. Certainly I do not believe they made us more noble. John Kitzhaber
A reform in the system of criminal jurisprudence, by which the death penalty shall no longer be inflicted; and by which, during that term, a portion of the prison employment shall be for, and the product thereof be faithfully paid over to, the support of the criminal’s family; and by which our so-called prisons shall be virtually transformed into vast reformatory workshops, from which the unfortunate may emerge to be useful members of society, instead of the alienated citizens they now are. Victoria Woodhull
It is only the dead who do not return. Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac
Labor has a universal position of opposition to the death penalty both at home and abroad... It is not possible in our view to be selective in the application of this policy. Kevin Rudd
One of the reasons that I chose firing squad as opposed to any other form of execution is because it’s one of the cheapest for the state. Bruce Burns
Women have the right to mount the scaffold; they must have the right to mount the public platform. Olympe de Gouges
When the Constituent Assembly engaged men of letters to research the penal code in order to repeal the death penalty, even for the condemned, did they imagine that after four years of a revolution enlightened by philosophical ideals, the French would, without cease, kill their fellow citizens? Olympe de Gouges
As a society are we going to murder people to show that murder is wrong Sunny Hostin
We are talking about a pendulum of decency when it comes to societal standards…At one point the guillotine was fine. At one point the firing squad was fine. Our Supreme court is trying to make it more palatable by saying “death by lethal injection” Sunny Hostin
People who died could not come back to life, so guaranteeing the right to life should not be a thing of the future, but should be advancing right now. Wang Ching-Feng
The law under which I suffer is surely a severe one— may the makers and promoters of it be justified in the integrity of their motives, and the purity of their own lives! By that law I am stamped a felon, but my heart disdains the imputation…. I trust that all my virtuous countrymen will bear me in their kind remembrance, and continue true and faithful to each other, as I have been to all of them. With this last wish of my heart nothing doubting of the success of that cause for which I suffer. My comfortable lot, and industrious course of life, best refute the charge of being an adventurer for plunder; but if to have loved my country—to have known its wrongs —to have felt the injuries of the persecuted Catholics and to have united with them and all other religious persuasions in the most orderly and least sanguinary means of procuring redress — if those be felonies, I am a felon, but not otherwise. William Orr
The military intelligence services of the United States had a fundamental role in the creation of the murders of the two American citizens in 1973…. The murders were part of a secret United States information-gathering operation carried out by the U. S. Milgroup in Chile on the political activities of American citizens in the United States and Chile. Jorge Flores Zepeda
I believe the death penalty demeans the values that form the core of American life.... Capital punishment is a terrible concession, a desperate response that substitutes one evil for another.... There is a better response to killing than killing. Mario Cuomo
What's wrong with the death penalty is that it satisfies this penchant we have for vengeance. Mario Cuomo
Without the punishment of the Death by a Thousand Cuts, I am afraid people in China would have nothing to fear … and before long there would be more and more criminals, and it would be hard to ensure peace and stability. Prince Gong
Death By A Thousand Cuts Anonymous
We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately. Benjamin Franklin
The Persian King Darius I ordered the crucifixion of 3,000 Babylonians in about 519 BC. Nigel Cawthorne
The Romans learned about crucifixion from the Greeks, although they noted that many of the ‘barbarian’ races (Indians, Assyrians, Scythians, and Celts) also used it. Nigel Cawthorne
Crucifixion is the most cruel and disgusting penalty; the worst of deaths. Marcus Tulliuis Cicero
Crucifixion is the most wretched of deaths. Josephus
A healthy person could survive on the cross for one or two days. The naked man would be jeered at and ridiculed. Insects would infest his mouth, eyes, and open wounds. With his hands nailed to the cross, he would have been unable to stop them. Left to the elements, unable to eat or drink, in constant pain, and brutally aware he was going to die, there can be no doubt that, as the ancients tell us, crucifixion was the worst of deaths. Nigel Cawthorne
Every kind of atrocity was inflicted upon their captives. They hung up the noblest and best-looking women naked, cutting off their breasts and stitching them to their mouths, so that the women appeared to be eating them and after this they impaled them on sharp stakes, run up the body. Cassius Dio
Take your time and strike a man so that he feels he is dying. Caligula
If the daughter of any priest … profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire. Book of Leviticus
If a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness; they shall be burned with fire, both he and they; that they be no wickedness among you. Book of Leviticus
Tamar, thy daughter-in-law, hath played the harlot; and moreover, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burned. Book of Genesis
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. Book of John
‘The court declares Robert-François Damiens duly convicted of the crime of lèsemajesté divine and human, for the very wicked, very terrible, and very detestable parricide perpetrated on the king’s person; and therefore condemns the said Damiens to pay for his crime in front of the main gate of the Church of Paris. He will be taken there in a tipcart naked and will hold a burning wax torch weighing two pounds. There, on his knees, he will say and declare that he had committed a very mean, very terrible, and very dreadful parricide, and that he had wounded the king on the right side, for which he repents and begs pardon of God, the king and justice. When this will be done, he will be taken in the same tipcart to the Place de Grève and put on a scaffold. Then his breasts, arms, thighs, and legs will be tortured. While holding the knife with which he committed the said parricide, his right hand will be burnt. On his tortured body parts, melted lead, boiling oil, burning pitch, melted wax, and sulphur will be thrown. Then four horses will pull him apart until he is dismembered. His limbs will be thrown on the stake and his ashes will be spread. All his belongings, furniture, housings, wherever they are, will be confiscated and given to the king. Before the execution, the said Damiens will be put to the question ordinaire et extraordinaire to tell the names of his accomplices.’ France
In England, the ultimate execution method for men who committed high treason was hanging, drawing, and quartering. It was considered indecent at the time to mutilate a woman’s body in this way, so female traitors were burnt at the stake. Nigel Cawthorne
I believe that a sight so inconceivably awful as the wickedness and levity of the immense crowd collected at that execution this morning could be imagined by no man, and could be presented in no heathen land under the sun. The horrors of the gibbet and of the crime which brought these wretched murderers to it faded in my mind before the atrocious bearing, looks, and language of the assembled spectators. I came upon the scene at midnight…As the night went on, screeching and laughing, and yelling in strong chorus of parodies on Negro melodies, with substitutions of “Mrs Manning” for “Susannah” and the like were added to these. When the day dawned, thieves, low prostitutes, ruffians, and vagabonds of every kind, flocked on the ground, with every variety of offensive and foul behaviour…When the sun rose brightly, it gilded thousands upon thousands of upturned faces, so inexpressibly odious in their brutal mirth or callousness that a man had cause to feel ashamed of the shape he wore. When these two miserable creatures, who attracted all this ghastly sight about them, were turned quivering into the air there was no more emotion, no more pity, no more thought that two immortal souls had gone to judgement, than if the name of Christ had never been heard in this world Charles Dickens
The last official public hanging in the United States took place in Galena, Stone County, Missouri, in 1937. Nigel Cawthorne
The crowd which assembled to witness this execution was unparalleled, being, according to the best calculation, nearly forty thousand; and the fatal catastrophe which happened in consequence will for long cause the day to be remembered. By eight o’clock not an inch of ground was unoccupied in view of the platform. The pressure of the crowd was such that, before the malefactors appeared, numbers of persons were crying out in vain to escape from it; the attempt only tended to increase the confusion. Several females of low stature who had been so imprudent as to venture among the mob were in a dismal situation; their cries were dreadful. Some who could be no longer supported by the men were suffered to fall and were trampled to death. This also was the case with several men and boys. In all parts there were continued cries ... particularly from the females and children among the spectators, some of whom were seen expiring without the possibility of obtaining the least assistance, everyone being employed in endeavours to preserve his own life. The Newgate Calendar
Public hangings [in England] were abolished in 1868. The last one took place outside Newgate Prison on 26 May of that same year. The man hanged was an Irish terrorist called Michael Barratt who had blown up the Clerkenwell House of Detention killing six people. A drunken crowd stayed up all night to witness the execution. They cheered wildly when the scaffold was brought out at dawn. More people – mainly young women and children – began to arrive. By the time a bell was sounded at eight o’clock in the morning to announce the arrival of the condemned man, the crowd stretched back as far as Smithfield. Nigel Cawthorne
The bodies of victims were ... the hangman’s property. Although obliged to sell the corpses of murderers to surgeons for dissection purposes, the executioner sometimes sold them back to the families if they offered a better price. It was often difficult to keep the body intact as the crowd would grab pieces as macabre souvenirs. On 18 December 1758, a riot broke out when the medics fought the family for possession of the victim’s body – however, the mob won and carried the corpse away in triumph. The hangman would also be allowed to cut up the rope that was used in the execution and sell bits off in the pubs on Fleet Street. Nigel Cawthorne
‘Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators,’ said Dr Johnson. ‘If they do not draw spectators, they don’t answer their purpose.’ Samuel Johnson
In antiquity, hanging was considered a form of death befitting cowards. Consequently, it was seen as a dishonourable way to die. In England, from Anglo-Saxon times it was the traditional method of execution, until beheading was introduced in the eleventh century by William the Conqueror. Nigel Cawthorne
And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accused by God; you shall not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance. Book of Deuteronomy
To chop off the heads of men I use a special sword, following the writings of the prophet Mohammed, while I use a gun to execute women. When the job is done, I get a sense of delight and thank God for giving me this power. Saed Al Sayaf
Early in the morning of the execution, the governor of Nagasaki sent notice to our director to keep himself with the rest of the Dutchmen in readiness to see the criminals executed. About an hour later, numerous flocks of people arrived, our interpreters, landlords, cooks, with the sheriffs and other officers of justice, in all to the number of at least 200 people. Before the company was carried a pike with a tablet, whereon the crime for which the criminals were to suffer was specified in large characters. Then followed the two criminals surrounded by bailiffs. The first was the buyer of the stolen goods, a young man of twenty-three years of age, very meanly clad, upon whom the stolen property, camphor, was found. The second was a well-looking man, about forty years of age, who suffered only for having lent the other, formerly a servant of his, the money to buy it with. One of the bailiffs carried an instrument upright, formed like a rake, but with iron hooks instead of teeth, to be made use of if any of the malefactors should attempt to make his escape as it easily catches hold of one’s clothes. Another carried another instrument, proper to cut, to stab, and to pin one fast to the wall. Then followed the two officers of the governor’s court with their retinues, to preside at this act, and at some distance came two clerks. At the scene I saw the two criminals in the middle of the place, one behind the other, kneeling, their shoulders uncovered and their hands tied behind their backs. Each had his executioner standing by him, the one a tanner, for tanners in this country do the office of executioners, the other his best friend and comrade, who he earnestly desired as is the custom in this country, by doing him this piece of service, to confirm the friendship he had always had for him. The spectators stood around as promiscuously as they pleased, but I, with my Japanese servant, crowded as near one of the malefactors as we could. The minute the Dutch were all assembled at the place of execution, a signal was given and, in that instant, both executioners cut off the criminal’s head with a short scymitar, in such a manner that their bodies fell forward to the ground. The bodies were wrapped up, each in a coarse rush mat, and both their heads put together in a third, and so carried away to a field not far from Nagasaki where, it was said, young people tried their strength and the sharpness of their scymitars upon the dead bodies by hacking them into small pieces. Both heads were fixed on a pole, according to custom, and exposed for view for seven days. Engelbert Kaempfer
in Germany in 1851, the death of one Bertha Zillman in 1893 was witnessed by a number of journalists. She was sentenced for poisoning her husband, although the court heard evidence that he beat both her and their children. The execution was scheduled to take place on 31 October at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin at eight o’clock in the morning. Her hair was put up in a bun and her dress cut down to her shoulders, though she was given a shawl to cover herself. When the warden went to fetch her, she was prostrate with fear and had to be helped to the block by two male warders. She silently dropped the shawl and, with one swing, was beheaded by her executioner. Nigel Cawthorne
The poor sinner was weak and ill, so she had to be led to the scaffold. When she sat down on the chair, Master Valtin the executioner walked around her like a cat walks around hot broth. He held the sword a span from her neck, took aim, and struck the blow, but missed her neck and struck off a slice of her head as big as a coin, knocking her from the chair. Then the poor soul got up quicker than she had sat down, this blow having done no harm to her. Then she started to beg to be let go, as she had been so brave. But to no avail. She had to sit down again. The assistant then wanted to take the sword from Master Valtin and strike her himself, but the master would not permit this and struck her again himself. The second blow was a little stronger and she fell from the chair. Then he cut off her head as she lay on the scaffold. The executioner received his reward as he went. He would have been stoned to death if the town guard and their arms had not rescued him. As it was, much blood was already streaming from his head. Bamberg, Germany
Until 1513, women convicted of adultery in Nuremberg were buried alive. After that, they were drowned. Schmidt advocated that they should be beheaded for a quicker, more merciful death. He got his way even though critics maintained that weak women might faint and he might be obliged to finish them off on the ground. Consequently, Schmidt took the precaution of seating the condemned woman in a chair and beheading her with his sword from behind. Nigel Cawthorne
The Lords punish evil, I execute their judgement. When I raise the sword, I wish the sinner everlasting life. Anonymous
Why, I am about doing very well, for I am preparing myself, sir, for a place where hardly any majors, and very few Lieutenant-Generals go. God save us, why should there be such a bustle about the taking off of an old grey head that cannot get up three steps without two men to support it? Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat
The following are now capital crimes against the Revolution: o impairing the purity and energy of the Revolutionary government o corrupting the public conscience o depraving morals o spreading false news o slandering patriotism France
At first, an awful silence prevailed; at length, some cries of “Vive La République!” [Long Live the Republic] were heard. By degrees the voices multiplied, and in less than ten minutes, this cry, a thousand times repeated, became the universal shout of the multitude and every hat was in the air .... Many in the crowd went to the scaffold, and soaked their handkerchiefs in the Kings blood as a souvenir of the event. L'Abbé Edgeworth de Firmont
Sire, in this new outrage I see only the last trait of resemblance between your Majesty and the God who will be your reward Henri Essex Edgeworth de Firmont
The felon would feel only a slight freshness on the back of the neck. With this machine, I chop your head off in a twinkling, and you do not suffer. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
When it came to the burning of witches, Germany was home to a kind of pre-Holocaust, where at least 100,000 people were executed for witchcraft, usually by public burning. Nigel Cawthorne
No man shall use any traiterous words against his Majesties Person, or royall authority upon paine of death. Thomas Dale
He that shall take an oath untruely, or bear false wittness in any cause or against any man whatsoever, shall be punished with death. Thomas Dale
If we as a society are willing to take human life, then we should be willing to watch it being taken. Alex Kozinski
We are not entitled to forgive the killing of our martyrs. Recep Tayyip Erdogan
It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty. Anthony Kennedy