Monthly Archives: February 2014

Does the Death Penalty Deter Crime? Members of NH Law Enforcement Weigh in

Some members of law enforcement say the death penalty deters crime and that the death penalty is warranted for the killing of police officers.   Is a vote for repeal a vote against public safety? A vote against the well-being and security of our police?

I strongly believe that the death penalty does not deter crime. A vote to repeal would enhance public safety and the security of our police officers. The millions of dollars saved could help fix the broken mental health system in NH.  The money saved could be used to fund prevention and treatment centers which are almost non-existent in our state. Mental health and substance abuse issues are the major problems facing the police and the citizens they protect so well. Please remember:  Desperate people do desperate things!

 –Richard O’Leary, Retired Deputy Chief, Manchester NH Police Dept (33 years of service)

The answer is “No” on both counts. The death penalty does not deter crime and we need look no further than the state’s recent history for guidance.  In 2006, Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs was shot and killed in the line of duty.  A much publicized affair was made that the death penalty would be sought for Officer Brigg’s killer, Michael Addison.  Yet, less than seven months later, Franconia Police Cpl. Bruce McKay was shot and killed.  And just five years later, with a convicted capital murderer sitting on death row, Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney was shot and killed. Deterrence presumes careful forethought of the consequences before one commits a crime.  In my experience, criminals almost never consider consequences.  That’s why they are criminals.  They don’t think like you and me. A vote to repeal is really a vote FOR public safety and the well-being and security of our police.  Repeal would free up the exorbitant amounts of money being spent on one case for better safety equipment and training for police.  It would free up money to provide additional and better services for those whom might otherwise be following the path to a life of crime.

–Raymond T. Dodge, Retired Police Chief, Marlborough, NH (25 years of service)

It is by my cherished Catholic faith to which I am deeply committed and my conscience which is a product of this faith, that I staunchly oppose the death penalty and seek its repeal. The appropriate response to heinous crimes is stricter sentences and truth in sentencing. No one wins and nothing is gained by taking yet another life! None of this should be construed as a lack of respect and sensitivity for victims and victims’ families, nor the law enforcement community in which I proudly serve.

 –Fintan P. Moore Jr., 15-year veteran, Keene Police Department

Like the general public, members of law enforcement are not of one mind about the death penalty.  Certainly, the killing of a police officer is a terrible crime, however, there is no proof that the existence of the death penalty serves as a viable deterrent to such an act. The existing studies to date, in fact, indicate to the contrary that capital punishment is not a deterrent to violent crime. Consequently, a vote to repeal the death penalty is in no way a vote against either public safety or the safety and well-being of those in law enforcement. Rather, it is a vote to move away from the vengeance mentality of trying to deter violence with violence, to seeking more effective and morally justifiable means.

–The Rev, Dr. Cynthia T. Morse, OEF, former Parole Officer and Correctional Administrator in the Connecticut Department of Correction

A vote to repeal the death penalty will ensure that innocent persons will not be executed and is a means of ensuring the safety of those members of the public who are wrongly convicted of murder. Studies clearly show that the vast majority violent offenders do not consider potential punishment prior to engaging in violent behavior whether such behavior is directed at acquaintances, strangers or police. Any persons, civilian or police, who have ever “lost their temper” can attest to the fact that they did not consider the harm they might do to others as a result of their anger.  Therefore I do not believe that the repeal of the death penalty has any bearing on the well-being or security of police officers or anyone else.

 –F.R., Former Nashua Police Officer (14 years of service)

 I do not believe that the death penalty deters crime in any way. Repealing the death is not a vote against public safety nor the well-being or security of police officers. Individuals who kill have no conscience or moral regards towards the lives of others and are only consumed with self-survival regardless of the cost to others.

–K.C., Retired Police Officer from South Carolina (20 years of service), now living in NH


Download “Family Members of Murdered Law Enforcement” PDF

Conservatives are rethinking the death penalty

              File - The gurney in the death chamber is shown in this May 27, 2008 file photo from Huntsville, Texas. Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials say their remaining supply of pentobarbital, the single drug now used in lethal injections, expires in September. The nation

Originally published in the Daily Caller, 02/13/2014

By Marc Hyden,  Advocacy Coordinator, CCATDP

It’s been hard to escape the growing number of conservatives raising questions about capital punishment during the past year. Since launching at CPAC in March 2013, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty has been giving voice to national and state conservative leaders who are actively speaking out against capital punishment. Today, the national narrative about the death penalty is changing.

Conservatives of all ages and from across the nation and the conservative ideological spectrum are increasingly seeing the death penalty for what it is – a wasteful and expensive government program that risks innocent lives and doesn’t make us any safer. At the forefront of this national dialogue are conservative stalwarts such as media watchdog Brent Bozell, conservative litigator Jay Sekulow, fundraising icon Richard Viguerie, pro-life advocate Abby Johnson, award-winning political blogger Julie Borowski, and former presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul, to name a few. Their dedication to conservative principles drives their concerns about the death penalty.

This momentum shouldn’t surprise anyone because the death penalty is ridden with failures that run contrary to conservative thinking. Conservatives believe in limiting the power of the state and protecting innocent lives. Reconciling capital punishment with these basic conservative principles is difficult; over 140 individuals have been exonerated after being sentenced to death. Human fallibility in the criminal justice system puts innocent lives at risk, even with today’s technology. DNA evidence is available in less than 10 percent of all criminal cases, and sometimes so-called forensic science is flawed.

Conservatives also believe in putting a stop to runaway government spending, and the dramatically increased cost of the death penalty, versus life-without-parole, is antithetical to fiscal prudence. It’s widely understood that the death penalty is far more expensive than life-without-parole – sometimes as much as 10 times more costly. There’s even a lengthy history of capital punishment pushing county budgets to the brink of bankruptcy and leading to tax increases.

It’s no wonder why support for the death penalty in America has dropped to a 40 year low (Gallup 2013), and there is ample reason to believe the shift in conservative thinking is a prime reason. For example, a recent poll in North Carolina (Public Policy Polling 2013) found that 68 percent of North Carolinians support repealing and replacing the death penalty with a system of life-without-parole while the offender works to pay restitution to the victims’ families. The majority of those polled were self-described conservatives.

In fact, North Carolina is one of over a half dozen historically red states where conservatives are in the process of bringing together their own conservative groups to raise awareness of the death penalty’s failures. Their members are establishment Republicans, fiscal and social conservatives, tea partiers, libertarians, Evangelicals, Catholics, and voters who are simply ready for commonsense in government. They know the system is broken and that no matter how hard we’ve tried, it can’t be fixed. For a growing number of conservatives, the time has come to stop wasting time, money, and lives, and move on from the death penalty.

America’s discussion over the justice of capital punishment has been altered by conservative leaders who are publicly expressing their doubts about the death penalty. At one time, it may have seemed taboo for a conservative to do so, but today, the ones questioning the death penalty are some of the staunchest and most effective.

Marc Hyden serves as the Advocacy Coordinator with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, a Project of EJUSA.