Cop killer Troy Davis executed

Convicted cop-killer Troy Davis was executed by the State of Georgia yesterday after 22 years on death row.  Anti-death penalty advocates are all a flutter over this man because of an alleged suspicion of doubt concerning his guilt.  According to the ACLU: “…the world watched Georgia take the life of an  innocent man.”

Yahoo News

Davis, 41, was convicted of the 1989 murder of Mark Allen MacPhail, an off-duty Savannah, Ga. police officer. MacPhail, who was running to the aid of a homeless man being pistol-whipped, was shot three times in a Burger King parking lot before he could draw his weapon.

Davis has always maintained his innocence, and several witnesses who testified at his trial have since recanted or backed away from their testimony, alleging they were improperly pressured by police.

But, how accurate are the reports of witness recantation?  Is there really enough doubt to have warranted a stay of execution?  The media and supporters of Davis are sure making a convincing case for doubt.  If their story is true, perhaps an innocent man was put to death.  But conservative talker Ann Coulter did some fact checking of her own.

Via Human Events

After a two-week trial with 34 witnesses for the state and six witnesses for the defense, the jury of seven blacks and five whites took less than two hours to convict Davis of Officer Mark MacPhail’s murder, as well as various other crimes. Two days later, the jury sentenced Davis to death.


Eyewitness testimony, like all evidence tending to show guilt, has gotten a bad name recently, but the “eyewitness” testimony in this case did not consist simply of strangers trying to distinguish one tall black man from another. For one thing, several of the eyewitnesses knew Davis personally.

The bulk of the eyewitness testimony established the following:

Two tall, young black men were harassing a vagrant in the Burger King parking lot, one in a yellow shirt and the other in a white Batman shirt. The one in the white shirt used a brown revolver to pistol-whip the vagrant. When a cop yelled at them to stop, the man in the white shirt ran, then wheeled around and shot the cop, walked over to his body and shot him again, smiling.

Some eyewitnesses described the shooter as wearing a white shirt, some said it was a white shirt with writing, and some identified it specifically as a white Batman shirt. Not one witness said the man in the yellow shirt pistol-whipped the vagrant or shot the cop.

Several of Davis’ friends testified — without recantation — that he was the one in a white shirt. Several eyewitnesses, both acquaintances and strangers, specifically identified Davis as the one who shot Officer MacPhail.

Now the media claim that seven of the nine witnesses against Davis at trial have recanted.

First of all, the state presented 34 witnesses against Davis — not nine — which should give you some idea of how punctilious the media are about their facts in death penalty cases.

Among the witnesses who did not recant a word of their testimony against Davis were three members of the Air Force, who saw the shooting from their van in the Burger King drive-in lane. The airman who saw events clearly enough to positively identify Davis as the shooter explained on cross-examination, “You don’t forget someone that stands over and shoots someone.”

Three recantations were from friends of Davis, making minor or completely unbelievable modifications to their trial testimony. For example, one said he was no longer sure he saw Davis shoot the cop, even though he was five feet away at the time. His remaining testimony still implicated Davis.

One alleged recantation, from the vagrant’s girlfriend (since deceased), wasn’t a recantation at all, but rather reiterated all relevant parts of her trial testimony, which included a direct identification of Davis as the shooter.

Only two of the seven alleged “recantations” (out of 34 witnesses) actually recanted anything of value — and those two affidavits were discounted by the court because Davis refused to allow the affiants to testify at the post-trial evidentiary hearing, even though one was seated right outside the courtroom, waiting to appear.

The court specifically warned Davis that his refusal to call his only two genuinely recanting witnesses would make their affidavits worthless. But Davis still refused to call them — suggesting, as the court said, that their lawyer-drafted affidavits would not have held up under cross-examination.

Unless Coulter is completely inventing facts (which is unlikely since the details are public record) we see a side of this case that is completely absent from the media coverage or activist petitions.  I wonder why the media and anti-death penalty crowd are silent on these details.   Could it be that to include them might not get people to support their “innocent man was put to death” mantra?  Talk about cherry-picking.


  1. Terrance H. says:


    But, how accurate are the reports of witness recantation? Is there really enough doubt to have warranted a stay of execution?

    For your sake, I’ll assume you had an annuerism, stroke, or something while writing that ridiculous comment.

    ,,,enough doubt…? Are you serious? If there is ANY DOUBT, a stay should have been granted until a thorough investigation was completed. We shouldn’t be talking about this after the fact.

  2. Terrance H. says:

    I read the Human Events bit and I think it’s nonsense. I rather think you have set this up as a For and Against battle, and in so doing you lose sight of the real issue: a man’s life was taken from him and he may have been innoncent.

    Consider what Bob Barr had to say:

    In 2007, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles declared that it “will not allow an execution to proceed in this state unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.”

    That is the final admirable principle standing between Troy Anthony Davis and his death by lethal injection on Sept. 21. And it is a standard the parole board should uphold, because there is considerable doubt surrounding the guilt of Troy Anthony Davis.

    Davis was convicted in 1991 of the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. But there was no physical evidence brought to trial to support his conviction: No murder weapon, no DNA evidence, no surveillance tapes.

    Nine so-called eyewitnesses testified in the trial, and it was on the basis of their testimony that Davis was sentenced to death. Seven of those witnesses, however, have since recanted or materially changed their stories. The jury, for instance, relied on two people who did not witness the crime but who testified that Davis had confessed to the shooting; both have since said they were lying.

    With the witness recantations and the absence of hard evidence, the U.S. Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of ordering a lower court to conduct an evidentiary hearing in the case.

    But the federal judge set the bar much higher than the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. Finding — astonishingly for the first time — that executing an innocent man is unconstitutional, the court then required Davis to prove that he was innocent.

    Proving one’s innocence is a far more difficult standard than establishing doubts as to one’s guilt. In fact, proving actual innocence has the effect of flipping our system of criminal jurisprudence on its head: Instead of a presumption of innocence and a requirement by the state to prove guilt.

    In Davis’ evidentiary hearing the court presumed guilt and required the condemned to prove his innocence. Even the judge deemed the standard “extraordinarily high.” Proving one’s innocence of a crime is a potentially insurmountable task — one Davis was unable to meet. But while Davis was unable to “prove” his innocence, he established considerable doubts as to his guilt, prompting the judge to acknowledge that the state’s case against him was “not ironclad.”

    I am a longtime supporter of the death penalty. I make no judgment as to whether Davis is guilty or innocent. And surely the citizens of Savannah and the state of Georgia want justice served on behalf of Officer MacPhail.

    But imposing an irreversible sentence of death on the skimpiest of evidence will not serve the interest of justice. By granting clemency, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will adhere to the most sacred principles of American jurisprudence, and will keep a man from being executed when we cannot be assured of his guilt.

    Bob Barr is a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and was elected to serve four terms in the United States Congress.


    It sounds like the people of Georgia have blood on their hands tonight, John.

    • WHat kind of physical evidence would there be? DNA from who, the man stood over an officer and shot him. There were 34 witnesses, many of the witnesses actually knew Davis personally. The vast majority of the witnesses never changed their testimony at all, including people who knew Davis.

      Davis was not required to prove his innocence at trial. After the trial, at appeals and other hearings AFTER ALREADY BEEN PROVEN GUILTY, the process is much different than a trial.

      Anti-death penalty people are grasping at straws trying to make a mountain out of a molehill in regards to “questionable” circumstances.

  3. I am against the death penalty because of the risk of killing an innocent person. But at the scene of the crime, if the criminal has a gun pulled, I think police should feel free offer the death sentence right then and there.

    I have not followed this case, but with that measure of doubt, I see no moral calculus that justifies the execution.

    • The measure of doubt is non existent. Lets say for example that 34 people said they saw something, and then only a couple (because some of the 7 only changed a few inconsequential details) people changed their mind after giving very detailed accounts. But on top of that the 2 people who actually had substantive changes, were not allowed to testify in court on behalf of the defendant? But why wouldnt they? because the defendant wouldnt allow them to.

      Hmm So we have at least 27 witnesses who saw very clearly the event take place, and 7 who said they saw it the same way the other 27 did, but for one reason or another changed their mind. Does that create enough doubt? No. Perhaps if there were only a few witnesses and then 2 or 3 changed their mind, sure. But thats not the case.

      Capital cases are not decided lightly. There needs to be as close to certainty as you can get, and every court that looked at ALL the OTHER evidence saw guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. This is a group of activists who have overblown the facts in an effort to gain support for their side.

  4. Again, I am against the death penalty because:
    (1) There is the risk of killing an innocent person.
    (2) We don’t want the right of execution in the hands of a corrupt government. (as if there is anything else — it is a matter of degree). Governments change easily, and often subtly. You don’t want to make it easy for them.

    For those two reasons alone I am against the death penalty. I think those reasons are suffice so as to avoid discussing the particulars of any person’s case.

    So, the inverse of that: If you are pro-death penalty (as I use to be), you must:
    (1) Be comfortable with the killing of innocent people
    (2) Trust that governments don’t become corrupt and we can depend that ours won’t become corrupt.

    BTW, I used to work in a security prison where my patients (I was the medical provider) were only murders and child molesters with life sentences. That adds no weight to my arguments, but it is to show you that my opinion is not an armchair decision. Trust me, I had very good reasons and feelings to want most of my prisoners patients executed. You did not dare read their criminal record.

    • No, I don’t have to be ok will executing innocent people. So far I am unaware of any person who it was shown by evidence and not speculation that they were in fact innocent. The standard of certainty for capital cases is so stringent and rigorous that it is nearly impossible to execute an innocent person.

  5. Most civilized western countries have no death penalty, and wha’d’ya know, their crime rate is also lower than in most countries that have the death penalty.

    It is not such a strong a deterrant, because the criminals either do not think they are going to be caught, or do not care. For example in this case the shooter did what he did, while he propably knew he was seen to do it by several witnesses.

    Lifetime prison sentence is a lot harder for the convict, than death sentence. Death sentence may even be seen as some form of release by a tormented person who is actually ready to commit as heinous act as the one described in this case.

    Death sentence is allwasys final. There is no removing it, if new evidence presents itself.

    • Rautakyy

      That also assumes that the crime rates in western countries are determined by capital punishment. There are many other factors in America that tend to give confidence to criminals. Like a good portion of the country that views criminal as victims of society, and that they cannot help it.

      I think a lot of people opperate under the impression that there is only one trial, and maybe one appeal. In fact there are many for someone convicted of a capital crime. And many States where it is legal, the death row inmates rarely if ever have their sentence carried out, except for maybe Texas and Florida. So it is no wonder people are not afraid of the death penalty.

      You know, in the Arab countries where the death penalty is swift and brutal, their crime rates are lower. We in western countries and America tend to coddle our criminals, as though what they really need is a hug.

  6. @ rautakyy
    I agree with John, (1) crime rate difference can’t be considered a result of death penalty policy. Also, (2) Using the word “civilized” is trying to sneak emotion and not evidence into your argument.

    @ John
    (1) I strongly agree that the US unnecessarily cuddle their criminals. I would change those aspects too. Indeed, I think many “pro-death” penalty folks would be comfortable with “life” sentences if they knew parole was not an options and prisoners were not coddled.
    (2) So, how many innocently executed people would you need evidence for before you were willing to say — “Wow, it is far less that perfect. I agree that given *that* number, I would have to say that the death penalty may not be the best policy.” ?
    (3) Do you link your religious beliefs with your death penalty policy or do you see Christians as being able to be consistent in their orthodox theology and being able to hold contradictory opinions on this issue?
    (4) What do you feel about keeping this tool out of corrupt government’s hands (you spoke of Arab countries). You did not address that reason I gave.

    I numbered these to help you avoid answering a question. Remember — four (4) questions. :-)

    • I haven’t seen evidence of an innocent person being executed. But for that matter, there are very few innocent people actually in jail. But I also don’t think one instance would turn me any more than an over turned life sentence is overturned makes me want to do away with life sentences. For me I think I’d need to see the number hit 3% of death row inmates convictions overturned before I’d consider a review of my position.

      My view on capital punishment is not driven by my religious views, but it is consistent with my religious views.

      The US government may be corrupt in that they are beholden to lobbys and special interest groups, the it is hardly corrupt to the degree that it would either knowingly allow an innocent person to be executed or not provide opportunity to appeal. The US government is in no way comparable to Arabic Muslim governments.

      Btw, you only asked 3 questions even though you used 4 numbers. The first one is a statement. :)

  7. The western countries that do not have the death sentence have all had it once. However, giving up on it did not increase their criminal rates, or the amount of violent murders. If there is even a doubt that any innocent people were executed, then the capital punishment only serves as a symbol for injustice.

    Sabio, yes, I think emotion is something to be considered here. Are there other than emotional reasons to carry out executions?

    John Barron Jr, some arab countries also have even a stronger deterrant against criminal activity by mutilating people. Yet, I bet you would not support that system in your own country, would you?

    • I wouldn’t support mutilating convicts. But you have to admit it is a strong deterrent. I would strongly support stocks on the town green and things like caning or public humiliation.

  8. Laughing — ooops, right, 3 questions. Sorry.
    (1) So am glad you have put forward that you’d be willing to sacrifice 3% of prisoner population even if innocent so that you could kill the bad guys. Which contradicts your earlier statement of “No, I don’t have to be ok will executing innocent people.

    I think many people would agree with you. Many folks are willing to sacrifice innocent folks for the good of the many, especially if it is not someone they could even imagine being inside their circle of friends — be that for socioeconomic, racial, religious or other reasons.

    • I’ll assume you are misunderstanding me rather than misconstruing me. I am not saying I am willing to sacrifice 3% of innocent people. What I am saying is, up to now with the number executions that take place with no evidence that exonerates an executed man thus far, one innocent would be a travesty, but wouldn’t show a flaw in the system. I am saying if it were to become prevalent enough that convictions are being overturned to the tune of 3% posthumously that would be significant enlightenment that we couldn’t chalk it up to anomalies in particular cases.

  9. But it does seem that you are willing to take some non-zero risk (we won’t debate numbers) of killing the innocent so that you can have the government also kill the bad people for you. Is that not correct?

    For it sounds like you would not even be willing to reconsider your position if I could should only 0.5 percent wrong convictions. Correct? I am not trying to miscontrue you . I am actually trying to be careful and state things as they are. So I am open to correction.

    • The reason I chose 3% is because I think that would serve to show a defective system rather than an anomaly in an otherwise effective system.

      We cant expect absolute perfection. It’s not that I am willing to accept innocent men being put to death, what I am saying is we don’t revamp an entire system due to a single anomaly.

      Your argument could also be used to argue against life with no parole sentences, because surely someone could die in prison but after their death be exonerated.

      I believe the death penalty is a just and proper punishment for the crimes people commit to receive it.

  10. John, you said, “It’s not that I am willing to accept innocent men being put to death, what I am saying is we don’t revamp an entire system due to a single anomaly.
    That clearly translates as killing an innocent man for your desire to see the “proper punishment” dealt out to the guilty.

    I dislike when pro-choice folks say that abortion is not killing, likewise, it seems by calling an event an “anomoly” you are minimizing a horrible thing. I think you can still have your opionion and hold it consistently, but I do think it is important to see what we are truly saying.

    • Let me ask you this, do you think the general public should be allowed to fly on commercial airlines? If yes, there is a possibility that the plane might crash. Now you are willing to take the chance that innocent people will die in a fiery death?

      Just because a system like capital punishment might accidentally execute an innocent man is not enough to halt the system all together. Sure you could guarantee no innocents will be executed by eliminating it, but you could also guarantee no one dies in plane crashes too.

      I get what you’re saying, I just thinking you are making my position more pregnant than it really is.

  11. John,
    Your question is very good. But, in dialogue I find it more productive to settle one question at a time. So, am I correct in assuming from all this dialogue and your last statement: “Just because a system like capital punishment might accidentally execute an innocent man is not enough to halt the system all together.
    You are willing to accept accidental execution of an innocent person because of the benefits of the system.
    We can move on to your question after that.

    • I am willing to accept that our justice system is not without absolute perfection. I am willing to accept that the lack of absolute perfection may result in wrongful convictions. I am willing to accept that some of those wrongful convictions might (although have yet to demonstrate) allow an innocent man to carry out a sentence he did not deserve.

      The benefit is to society. That justice is served to those who commit the most heinous of crimes. It is unfortunate that someone might get caught up in it, but it is worth it. Especially since there is a complete lack of evidence that demonstrates an innocent man has been executed in the last 30-50 years.

  12. OK, but we have made progress. You ARE willing to accept wrongful executions to benefit society. You would want them very small, of course, BUT you ARE willing.
    So I think we have shown that your statement that said, ““No, I don’t have to be ok will executing innocent people.” was inaccurate.

    You are willing , if you feel the chances are very small.
    You have faith in our Government.
    You have faith in the fairness of our legal system.
    And you are willing to risk other people’s lives on that faith.
    That is pretty clear.

    We don’t have the same faith.

    Now to your question. Concerning flying in planes and dying risks. Those are individual choices. Big difference — so the analogy does not work.

    I think making your position clear is not making it “more pregnant” than it is.
    It is important to point out where the differences lie.
    You’ll note I have not criticized your position, but just made it clear.
    To criticize your position I would have to tackle the following trust/faith items:
    (1) No innocent people have been executed in the USA
    (2) The US Government makes good decisions for all her people
    (3) Our legal system is fair

    And I would have to show how any assault on those are pertinent to executions.
    I don’t have the time or inclination to do that, but coming this far in laying forth the positions I think is useful.

    Other anti-capital punishment folks may take positions such as:
    Killing is always wrong (many Christians take this positions, as well as Buddhists.
    I don’t agree with this position. I just don’t want governments to have the power to execute.

    • You keep parsing my statement as though I said and/or mean “I understand that wrongful executions do and will continue to take place currently, but that fact is tolerable in order to secure the death penalty for the truly guilty”. And frankly, I am annoyed that you keep doing that. So far, in the last 30-50 years, there are no documented instances where it was proven with evidence that an innocent man has been executed. I’m not talking speculation, I’m talking the convicion was evidentially overturned after the execution.

      So lets stop spinning my statement please.

  13. (1) Instead of going into the historical records (which would be a very long discussion and not the basis of my argument), haven’t you admitted that *even if* there were an accidental execution or two, over the last 50 years, you’d tolerate it?

    (2) Oh I am not sure if I am clear on *why* you want the executions. Are these any of your reasons:
    (a) They deserve it
    (b) It deters crime
    (c) God wants us to kill murders and rapists

    (if you have other reasons, could you write them succinctly)

  14. I found the following information: (source)


    At least 48 people have been released from prison after serving time on death row since 1970 with significant evidence of their innocence. In 43 of these cases, the defendant was subsequently acquitted, pardoned, or charges were dropped. In three of the cases, a compromise was reached and the defendants were immediately released upon pleading to a lesser offense. In the remaining two cases, one defendant was released when the parole board became convinced of his innocence, and the other was acquitted at a retrial of the capital charge but convicted of lesser related charges.

    If these have occurred, then it is highly likely that some innocent people have been executed. For one could see that what got many of these folks out of prison could easily not have happened also.
    But please answer (1) & (2) in the previous comment before addressing this — for again, this is not my primary argument. Thanx.

    • Oh, good, I’m glad you proved my position for me. That the system works pretty darn good and that 48 people were NOT executed who were not guilty of their charges. I appreciate the help. You see, thats why the average stay on death row is so long. Just in case, it can be sorted out, just as those were. I see we are still not executing innocent people. I suppose the “what if…” will be offered, but then again, we can what if lots of things.

      I think some crimes are deserving of capital punishment. It is a matter of justice, not revenge even though some people see it as revenge. The Bible supports the death penalty.

  15. Please answer #1 clearly for me.

    • I have. I have very clearly said that I would review my position on capital punishment if the number of those executed who were proven evidentially posthumously comprised 3% of those executed. Because that would show more than an anomaly.

      You seem to want desperately to spin it as “I’m perfectly fine with innocent people dying as long as the system benefits society overall” which is a misrepresentation of my position.

      Now please continue with your point.

  16. John Barron Jr, allow me few questions and a little anecdote: What if a school shooter was arrested, and let us say, he had managed killed several students. Now it would be obvious that he planned to be shot during his attack on the school premises, but by an accident was only knocked unconscious. Would execution serve as punishment for him as his goal was a suicide, but he did not have the guts do it himself?

    What, in your opinion, is the concrete reason why execution serves justice better than a lifetime prison sentence?

    Death sentence is in use in Iran, USA, China and Saudi-Arabia. It is not in use in any of the EU countries, Canada, Australia, or even in Russia of late. What do these lists tell you?

    If I remember correct, the Bible also supports stoning of women for adultery. Or it has at least been used for such a purpose, now why is it we do not do that anymore in the western countries? Would that not be appropriate according to conservative values?

    • Rautakyy

      Because we don’t impose sentences for spite. The judge doesn’t say, “well, it looks like you wanted to kill yourself, but didn’t get a chance to. I was going to give you the death penalty, but now I think I should give you life in prison instead”. No, if the crime is deserving of the death penalty, thats what you get.


      The Jesus in regards to the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t let her go because it was a kinder gentler more forgiving time. He let her go because in order to put someone to death for a crime, their crime had to be witnessed by two or more people willing to testify. All the supposed “witnesses” had left and He didn’t witness the event. Additionally, did you happen to notice that though she was caught, they didn’t bring the man, who in Jewish law was just as guilty and deserving of death as she was? Sorry, the New Covenant was not yet in place, Jesus had not died and been resurrected, the old “angry” law was still in place and Jesus followed the law.

  17. Temperament informs Philosophy

    Sometimes when debating issues, we forget that in the end, we all have temperaments and often don’t share temperament qualities. But what we really don’t understand is how our temperaments have helped us choose our philosophy or theology — I write about this continually. This is a huge blind spot. I see atheists and Christians and Buddhists do it all the time — hell, we all do it. We snuggle into positions that best fit our temperament.

    Here, I think people have different degrees of natural preference (“temperament”) concerning “Justice” and likewise for some on the “Mercy/Forgiveness” scale [to keep it in the Christian ethical domain]. Some are more inclined toward retribution than others. Getting to understand our emotional reflexes and how they are part of what we think are “logic” are important.

    I think it is very difficult to argue anyone out of their temperament — their minds will reflexively avoid, defend or attack. We all do it. But sometimes dialogue can help us see our own temperament. It is important to recognize when the issue we debate is not so much the facts as it is our preferences.

  18. <b@ John

    I think our differences are clear about both how to value possible innocent lives of those convicted of crimes and the trust of the government.

    Now, to address your gloating over the released inmates:

    It should be apparent, as I wrote below that information, that “If these have occurred, then it is highly likely that some innocent people have been executed. For one could see that what got many of these folks out of prison could easily not have happened also.” <– which you did not address.

    So we see that there are many falsely convicted [what, above, you called in all caps "PROVEN GUILTY”]. And one can clearly see that the probability of undetected innocents are huge. And that some of these are on death row and are executed without their names being cleared ever seems highly probable.

    Here is another website discussing The Causes of Wrongful Convictions:
    — Eyewitness Misidentification
    — Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science
    — False Confessions / Admissions
    — Governemnt Misconduct
    — Informants or Snitches
    — Bad Lawyering

    DNA testing has been huge in revealing false conviction.

    So, it is clear that the probability of wrongly executing a person is not negligible (make it 0.05% or 2.5% doesn’t matter). It is clear that you are comfortable with this for some reason where as others aren’t.

    From the first site I sourced (Death Penalty Info) we have this information below which shows why it is clear that the number of executed innocents is not negligible:

    Since Innocence and the Death Penalty: Assessing The Danger of Mistaken Executions was released in 1993, 21 more cases have been added to the list of mistaken convictions in capital cases. Seventeen of those releases occurred after the original report’s release, and the other four were cases which would have been included in the original report had the information about these releases been known earlier. In the twenty-one-year span of the first report, there was an average of 2.5 releases of innocent defendants per year from 1973 to 1993. The 17 releases over the past three and a half years represents a pace of 4.8 releases per year, almost twice the pace of the previous report.

    For the original 48 cases, it took an average of approximately six and a half years between conviction and eventual release. With the 21 additional cases included in this report, the average time spent on death row before release is now about seven years. This length of time is important because both state and federal legislation in recent years will shorten the length of time death row inmates have before their execution. Currently, the average time between sentencing and execution is eight years5. If that time is cut in half, then the typical innocent defendant on death row will be executed before it is discovered that a fatal mistake has been made.

    • But unfortunately, you must speculate and extrapolate to make your case. The fact of the matter is death row inmates spend decades on death row. Within that time, a fraction have been exonerated. So far zero have been exonerated by any evidence post-execution. In the end that’s the bottom line. In the end your own argument serves to work against life with no parole, since someone could die and be posthumously exonerated. So to reiterate. When multiple cases start turning up that people are being executed who are evidentially exonerated, then my position will be reconsidered.

      My temperament has little to do with much. I am a very unemotional person to begin with. The most passionate issue for me is abortion, and I have yet to get so worked up I needed a break. My mind has been changed on a number of issues in the past, and I look forward to having it changed in the future. I have said many times I’d rather be begrudgingly correct, than contentedly wrong.

  19. @ Rautakyy

    (1) Retribution Culture
    I like your analogy of the shooter as a tool to understand the justification of “justice”. I think “justice” is often another word for “retribution”. And we see clearly in Ireland, Afghanistan and many other cultures where retribution is considered a strong part of the moral code that clan violence is crippling.

    (2) Argument from Majority
    I think that your argument showing which countries still hold the death penalty can show possible useful information, but just because most people do something, does not mean it is the right thing to do. But it does illustrate that one does not want execution to be in the hands of a bad government and there is not reason to keep in the hands of a good government. For as is clear from the sites I quote, all governments imprison innocent people — we need to take execution out of their tool bags.

    (3) Conflicting “Biblical” Views
    Concerning the Bible. Discussion of Bible ethics can be kept out of this conversation because Christians themselves vary widely on the issue of the death penalty. Each cherry picks verses and turns the wheels of their favorite theology to justify contrary positions on this issue and others.

    Some Christians extol the more angry Jehovah (Leviticus 21:9) who kills adulterers and fornicators and some prefer to value a new-dispensation, forgiving Jehovah who sent a son to say, it is time to not throw the stone at the adulterer. This is found in John 7:53- 8:11 which is called “The Pericope Adulterae” which is actually felt by some to be one of those verses added later to the New Testament. Much of Christian debate on execution revolves around this passage. But either way, Christians contradict each other and they all say “Because the Bible says so”. So it is hard to get in the middle of that. Thus we can keep it outside that realm to some degree.

  20. @John
    You confirmed my point about the different way Christians will spin the story. Other Christians disagree with your interpretation. I have no dog in the race, but merely to point out the different versions. Versions different that yours have influenced Christian thinking and actions for a long time. There is much variety out there. Sure, yours may be the true version, but it is important to understand that there are many others.

    It doesn’t take much web surfing to find countless examples of Christians who disagree with your interpretation that Jesus was just steppin’ in to make sure the law was carried out correctly. They think it is about forgiveness too. I’d wager to say that the majority of Christians interpret it this way — not that the Majority has to be right.
    Here is one: at Bible Commentor .com.
    Here is another: at Trusting in Jesus .com

    • Most Christians prefer a blonde haired, blue eyed, surfer hippie Jesus than the one who followed and supported the Jewish law. There are “christians” who would use the bible to support homosexuality and universalism too. So what does that mean?

      When you start with a position and seek to justify it, you can work miracles with the texts. When you start with the text and seek to form position from it, you’ll do much better.

  21. But John, I hope the Bible stuff does not sidetrack the conversation and you address the wrongly convicted [“proven”] issue above which shows that the number of wrongly executed is probably not insignificant.

    • I have addressed it Sabio, it shows the system has worked. Advocacy groups always continue to investigate cases after executions. Nothing could make them happier than to uncover a wrongful execution. But alas, none so far.

      That’s why people must resort to extrapolation and speculation, the evidence is not there. But like I said, once it is, I’d be happy to review my position.

  22. So, John, just to be clear, do you think the evidence I quoted points to the fact that there is probably a non-negligible amount of innocent people executed in the USA? If not, why?

    • Ok, for the second or third time, anti-death penalty activists are always investigating the cases of executed prisoners after they die. Nothing would advance their cause more than proving (beyond speculation and extrapolation as you are doing) evidentially that people have been wrongly executed.

      What we see are assertions based on stats like you offer and chants of “probably” rather than pointing to actual cases which prove their claims.

  23. Gottcha, you don’t believe that these stats point at actual possibilities. So you do indeed have far more faith in the system than I do.

    Would you be against the death penalty in China if you had a vote on the issue?

    • Yes I would vote against it in china because that government has already demonstrated a willingness to be corrupt to the point of killing its citizens. They show an aggressiveness in their corruption. Even with their one child forced abortion policies, they show a propensity for violence toward its own people. So I would not trust their justice system to provide fair trials and appeals.

  24. Great, it looks like we agree on China. So all you need is evidence that innocent people were executed in the USA and you’d vote against it here too.

    So my second argument was that governments change easily so that I don’t want them to have that tool in case they change for the worse. Not having that rule won’t stop them from making it, but it will be one more obstacle.
    That plus, unlike you, I feel there is always a fair chance that innocent people get executed, just as innocent people get put in prison all the time — even in the USA.

    • That there is evidence that enough innocent people (don’t go off on a rant about that either, you know what I mean) were executed.

      Second, when you say innocent people go to jail all the time, that’s not really telling the whole story. Its significantly less than 1% of people in jail (awaiting trial or plea) are innocent, and even less still are wrongfully convicted.

  25. When you said “Don’t go off on a rant.” You have successfully closed this conversation.

    • No I haven’t I am preemptively making sure we don’t rehash the misconstrual of what I mean when I say that. I have clarified what I mean when I say “not enough” and don’t want to go over it again, that’s all.

      In other words, don’t make a big deal out of my choice of wording there when I have already explained what I mean by that. That’s it.

  26. Well, I agree that death penalty should be abolished in China also. (I think their one child policy is planned for the good of their own nation, but serves us all, as the main propblem of human kind and our envarioment is overpopulation.) For the same reasons it should be abolished from everywhere. Because it is immoral. It is one thing to be innocent waiting for new justice as a life sentence inmate, than in the death row.

    No, doubt it is possible to find basic ethics from just about any old religion, but because they are so easily interpreted as what ever, they can not serve as a basis for morality in a society. We have 2000 years of experiment on that and so far it has not worked out. Hence, the Bible should perhaps not even be brought up in these conversations.

    If a death penalty is offered to a criminal who was attempting a suicide by being killed by a nother mans hand, while engaging in his/her criminal act, it serves as no punishmet at all. If that person comes from a culture in which suicide is a taboo, it only serves as a release for the criminal and that criminal might even have some form of divinal apology (as they rarely can apologize to their victims) before the carrying out of the sentence. I can appreciate your christian sence of mercy on that occasion John, for that kind of person is truly tormented, and after what he/she may have done, it might be true that he/she is truly beyond repair.

  27. “conservative talker Ann Coulter did some fact checking of her own”

    hysterically funny

    Ann Coulter and facts rarely, if ever, occur in the same sentence.

  28. I love this statement of yours “I am unapologetically pro-life.”

    Apparently not.

    There’s no way to justify your hypocritical view.

    Apart from the death penalty being inconsistent, racist, classist, killing the innocent with the guilty, not functioning as a deterrent, and being expensive, and Jesus stopping an execution (john 8:7) and speaking against capital punishment (Matthew 5:38–39) (oh, not to mention being an innocent executed by the system), what is wrong with it?

    • To start, the verses you cite say no such thing as you imply. The john passage shows Jesus following the Jewish law, which required witnesses to condemn to death. All the witnesses left, therefore she could not be put to death. Also notice they did not bring the man who would also have qualified for death for his role.

      The Matthew passage is referring to personal affronts. So context is not your strong suit. But that’s ok.

      As to racist and classist, the death penalty is not either. Brewer, the man who participated in the dragging death of james byrd was executed in Texas and he was white and not wealthy. Bit people of any wealth rarely commit the kinds of crimes that warrant the death pebalty. Or the two men from CT who killed a family, both white and one already got the death penalty and the other will lilely also. The law does not mention anything about race or class. Who ever commits the crimes can be put to death under those laws. You might (and it’s a stretch) be able to claim the application of a nonracist nonelitist law os racist. But that can be done by looking at ONLY at the proportions of skin color and excluding any other factor. But that is fallacious since convictions and sentences are determined by many factors.

      So what you have here is an activist rant with no facts. You claim innocents have been executed but cannot point to a case in the last 50 years where someone has been executed who was shown evidentially to be innocent.

    • You also fail to make a distinction between a convicted murderer and an innocent baby. Go read “one of these things is not like the other” I’ve already written on this.

  29. Yet another “I have my truth don’t confuse me with the facts” stance.

    You:”All the witnesses left, therefore she could not be put to death.”
    -so he stopped it. Ergo Jesus stopped the death penalty from being carried out due to the ‘reasonable doubt’ clause that we have in our system which was not followed out in the Troy Davis Case.

    You:”The Matthew passage is referring to personal affronts.”
    -and how is that not the same in legal cases? Case law is based on one party bringing another to court, it’s all about personal affronts. that’s why we have the justice system. Nice try on the mental gymnastics but theology isn’t your strong suit. He still rules out any “eye for an eye.” Forgiveness is the name of the game, not violence and not retribution which is what our modern justice system is founded on.

    And haven’t you heard of the pascal lamb? the whole point was the Jesus was innocent and put to death for crimes he didn’t commit. That fact alone, the basis of Christian theology, should give you some pause in this matter.

    You: “As to racist and classist, the death penalty is not either… No Facts”
    -did you click the link I provided? No? Didn’t think so. How about this “The rate at which eligible black defendants were sentenced to death was nearly 40% higher than the rate for other eligible defendants.” as well as ” In regards to class, it is a fact that 90% of the prisoners on death row could not afford to hire a lawyer.” thus Racist and Classist via
    -David Dow has represented more than 100 death-row inmates over the past two decades. In The Autobiography of an Execution and states that it’s “racist, classist [and] unprincipled,”Read more:,8599,1967233,00.html#ixzz1ZAjtaEQx
    -to state that i’m too much of an activist (what are you with the rabid pro-life and anti-gay marriage then if not an activist?) denies this balanced look from a non-partisan source:

    You: “Bit people of any wealth rarely commit the kinds of crimes that warrant the death pebalty”
    -uhhh… you sure about that? where’s the facts? what evidence do you have to support this? I’ve already provide the facts that counter this claim.

    “You claim innocents have been executed but cannot point to a case in the last 50 years where someone has been executed who was shown evidentially to be innocent.”
    -A simple google search would be helpful before making this claim. Some cases with strong evidence of innocence include:
    Carlos DeLuna Texas Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989
    Ruben Cantu Texas Convicted: 1985, Executed: 1993
    Larry Griffin Missouri Conviction: 1981, Executed: 1995
    Joseph O’Dell Virginia Conviction: 1986, Executed: 1997
    David Spence Texas Conviction: 1984, Executed: 1997
    Leo Jones Florida Convicted: 1981, Executed: 1998
    Gary Graham Texas Convicted: 1981, Executed: 2000,
    Claude Jones Texas Convicted 1989, Executed 2000
    Cameron Willingham Texas Convicted: 1992, Executed: 2004

    The prosecution rests your honor. John Barron is flat wrong and woefully misguided.

    • The cases you cite, none of those executed were exonerated due to evidence, just speculation by activists.

      If you would, since you claim that death penalty laws are racist, quote various death penalty laws where race is the deciding factor? I already granted for the sake of argument that it is possible that application could be driven by race, and even that is speculation, but the laws themselves are completely race neutral. Men comprise the overwhelming prison population, are laws sexist? Of course not. Neither are CP laws racist.

  30. You: “You also fail to make a distinction between a convicted murderer and an innocent baby.”
    -I don’t make that distinction. Both are children of God and both deserve to live. I’m pro-life, womb to tomb bud. So as one pro-lifer to another, get your facts and theology straight. We as Christians are about the sacredness of life and the ability for salvation and redemption of ALL people no matter what they have done.

  31. You: “The cases you cite, none of those executed were exonerated due to evidence, just speculation by activists.”
    -I see that in 9 minutes you wouldn’t have time to read each and every case to get the facts. We covered each one of these in a law class in college and later in a seminary ethics class. I know these cases. You don’t. Period. There’s enough doubt there, including DNA evidence that has exonerated Joseph O’Dell and Claude Jones in the list alone.

    You: “If you would, since you claim that death penalty laws are racist, quote various death penalty laws where race is the deciding factor? ”
    -So you’re criteria for whether something is racist or not is if it’s put in writing? Wow you’re privilege is showing man.

    • Right in nine minutes I have not completed your assigned homework. You are either intentionally avoiding my point, or you are not understanding me.

      I do not doubt that there may be questionable circumstances surrounding those convictions. What I am saying is beyond speculation, no executed convict has been posthumously exonerated by evidence. As in, “we now have evidence showing John Doe was wrongfully convicted and should not have been executed”. That hasn’t happened.

      Again, the racism you cite is speculation based on a raw statistical demographic. Each case is different and simply qualifying for CP is not enough to play the race card. The details of cases and mitigating circumstances need to be accounted for, not just skin color.

  32. I get your point and you’re wrong. That’s my point

    “I do not doubt that there may be questionable circumstances surrounding those convictions.”
    -Which goes against the statue of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” the law isn’t being followed and you admit that. the system is indeed broken.

    “no executed convict has been posthumously exonerated by evidence.”
    -did you miss “DNA evidence that has exonerated Joseph O’Dell and Claude Jones in the list alone.”?

    “the racism you cite is speculation based on a raw statistical demographic.”
    -AKA the Facts. what would your criteria be to say that CP is racist aside from the statement “we’re killing this guy because he’s black?” What else do you need aside from raw stats and the details of cases already presented and analyzed by the above links?

    • Any doubt at all is different from reasonable doubt.

      Second, I am at work and I am limited to what I can do from my phone during brief intervals, so I am not going scour the internet chasing down your claims. If you say those individuals have been posthumously exonerated I’ll look at it, post links to those cases specifically, not a list of “questionable ” convictions with no details other than the “trust me, they were questionable”.

      Regarding racism, “more blacks than whites” is not evidence of racism. If that’s the case I’ll start introducing asians into the mix and claim racism against whites in academia and a host of other areas where whites are rejected (discriminated) at proportionately higher rates than asians.

  33. That last comment is no excuse for intellectual laziness. You have the details and the facts provide by myself and others in this thread, all you lack is the willingness. I’ll leave you to it.

    • Ahh, I see. You assign me a task and if I don’t hop to and investigate your position I’m lazy. Sorry, you made an assertion, namely that 2 cases have been overturned by courts after executions, and because I wont look it up for you, I’m in the wrong.

      That’s just lame. I would never come to someone else, make an assertion, then demand they do the leg work. Either provide documentation for those two cases or I don’t consider them to be accurate claims on your part.

  34. Fine: here are two links which you won’t click on: Claude Jones:

    and here’s a PBS Frontline special on not only Joseph O’Dell but 3 others wrongfully executed:

    so let’s recap:
    1.) Theologically you seem confused and seem to miss the fact that Jesus was wrongfully executed.
    2.) As a pro-lifer you haven’t really thought out your stance to it’s logical conclusion. Many others haven’t either, that doesn’t make it okay.
    3.) You’re willing to have a 3% innocent death rate, would you be willing to have the same in abortion? I’m not.
    4.) Your claim that the system isn’t subject to racism or classicism is woefully ignorant:
    5.) You claim that “innocents have been executed but cannot point to a case in the last 50 years where someone has been executed who was shown evidentially to be innocent.” is untrue based on the links above as well as the “beyond a reasonable doubt” of 7 others. Whether they were innocent or not, we’ll never know, but it has been shown that enough reasonable doubt surrounds those cases and those victims should not have died.

    • Your first link yielded to conflicting reports. One said the sample was too small, and as such is highly likely to produce a false inclusion or a false exclusion. And no court decision exonerating the condemned, just speculation and assertion.

      The second pbs link highlighted 4 cases. 2 received a death penalty sentence but were exonerated BEFORE being executed. Another was executed but further tests were not done and only speculation as to his innocence persists. The last one didnt get a death penalty sentence, but rather life in prison, but has been exonerated and has been released.

      So your two links do not prove your case at all. The first offers a report that claims any test done will be very likely to produce a false result because of the small amount of hair. Then the other reports concludes exclusion of possible dna match. Your citation effectivly serves to defeat itself. The second does not show anyone who has been executed then exonerated.

      Sorry, you’re just not producing the information you claim to have. You offer speculation and assertions, but no citations of anyone evidentially exonerated posthumously.

  35. Apparently we’re not reading the same articles. these cases all have doubts that are more than reasonable. yet saying that you’re okay with a system that kills innocents, so i guess these all fall in the 3%. how is that just? how is that okay?

    Joe O’Dell’s evidence used to convict him has largely been overturned, he has not been exonerated as of yet but that doesn’t stop the fact he’s been executed. Same with Claude Jones,

    You can keep denying that but that does not change the facts that there were and are more than reasonable doubts on these cases, not idle speculation. But you’re at work and can’t be bothered with things like details.

    You can have your own opinion on things John, but you can’t have your own facts. Your callous and ignorant dismissal shows your true colors: none of those colors are Christian or Pro-Life.

    • the claude Jones link says that the hair found was not his. he has yet to be exonerated due to this.

      And you admit O’Dell has not been exonerated posthumously, so I’m not sure of the problem there.

      And from your PBS link (four compelling cases):

      Earl Washington: On October 2, 2000 Earl Washington was finally pardoned, after the new tests found no trace of his DNA on evidence from the crime scene. After nearly 18 years in prison, Washington was finally freed on February 12, 2001.

      Roy Criner: was sent to prison for 99 years (not the death penalty)

      Clyde Charles: was released from prison on December 17, 1999

      Joseph O’dell was executed and further testing is not available due to lack of specimen.

      So what we have is no one executed who has been exonerated evidentially posthumously. Keep pounding the podium all you want. But you still have yet to produce anything more than speculation made by anti-deathpenalty activists.

    • You should have read them. None say anyone has been exonerated posthumously. The closest was “Felker was executed in 1996. In 2000, his case was reopened in an attempt to make him the first executed person in the US to have DNA testing used to prove his innocence after his execution” But says nothing of actually being exonerated.

      So, I’m still waiting.

      BTW, I’m not concerned with wrongful executions priot to about 50 or so years ago. I will concede the local and some state governments were possibly corrupt enough to allow a known innocent to die for public appearences or other reasons. No longer though.

  36. Is that the only thing that will change your mind? That one piece of evidence? No philosophical or theological reasons? Just this one thing? No the list of all those wrongfully sentenced to die? That makes no difference at all?

    “…than speculation made by anti-deathpenalty activists.”

    nope, many of those came from objective sources, including Wiki, PBS, and government sources.

    And I just figured out that i fell for a right-wing tactic. Just found that there will be NO exonerations base on the criteria you’ve set before me. if you want exhonorated, you won’t find it. Why? A corrupt system will deny the blood on it’s hands just as you are trying to do.

    Closest two are Cameron Todd Willingham: Executed in 2004 for arson and the murder of his three daughters. Conviction unsustainable 2009:

    And Ellis Wayne Felker, already mentioned, Executed in 1996 for the murder and rape of Evelyn Joy Ludlum. Conviction inconclusive in 2000.

    Yet there is plenty of proof that people have been wrongly convicted to die and your best offering is “well, we’re not perfect.” seriously? that’s your argument?

    The Innocents Database of wrongly convicted people, including more than 900 wrongly convicted of murder.

    15 people who were jailed and/or executed but found innocent:

    “No longer though.”
    -so then you must really hate Sarah Palin and the Tea Party cause according to you, our system works… when each and every one of those cases, the fact that innocent people were in jail for crimes they didn’t commit and people were executed even though the statute of reasonable doubt was not met in the least. it has been proven to be a giant waste of tax payer funds and the only thing you do is shrug, claim to be christian and prolife and ask for evidence that is simply not there.

    • Your problem is you want me to be swayed by your feelings. You think that trumps actual evidence. I’m not moving the goal posts here, if we see exonerations, I can reconsider. Courts exonerate life sentences, there’s obviously no issue there. But you speculate the other way. In place of evidence you place “maybe”. My theology justifies support of capital punishment, it doesn’t require it.

      Just admit you have no examples of anyone who has been executed but later been exonerated by a court using evidence.
      Since you aren’t willing to admit what you have already proven to be true here, I’m not sure what benefit is gained continuing the discussion.

  37. I think it is clear that John is willing to risk innocent people’s deaths albeit only to a small degree. He has faith that since no-cases of wrongful executions can be “proven”, then they don’t exist. He has faith in our present government and admits that >50 years ago that our government was corrupt but he does not distrust corruption and racism in today’s legal system.

    Life sentences avoids all these risks but John feels there are really no risks (for now). He might even except 2% mistakes. He hasn’t told us why it is so important to kill these people except that he thinks that killing a killer is the right thing to do. By this we all know he means that his theology tells him that his god tells him to kill murderers, but he does not want to discuss that here.

    That is my conclusion from reading these discussions. Seems pretty straight forward.

    • I think it os clear that I have said that it is a tragedy whenever an innocent person is put to death. The mere existence of a possibility does not negate the justice of the matter. I have never said that because a case has not been shown therefore it has never happened. I have however said that I will not disavow my support for what I believe to be a proper sentence based on speculation.

  38. I agree that you think it is a tragedy for an innocent person to be put to death. But you have made it clear that your theology demands you to take that risk for your god.

  39. So if your theology does not demand you to support CO, what does?

  40. And that’s the baffling thing to me John. I get that you can deny all the evidence and cases dismissed BEFORE people are executed…although it sometimes takes decades… and call that justice. I get that, I think it’s willfully stubborn and largely misguided, but I get that.

    Yet on a theological level, that’s what I don’t get. To call yourself a Christian, to say you follow the wrongfully executed One, the pascal lamb, and STILL support CO, that’s what I don’t get. To say you’re pro-life on top of that is icing on the cake.

  41. So I keep checking back for an answer of Sabio’s question and some justification for your stance. Should I just stop and move on?

  42. Wow, should be pretty simple, John. Just scroll up to my last entry. See my last sentence — the last question you never answered.

  43. Sabio

    There is nothing that demands I support capital punishment. I believe human life is valuable, and as such, certain crimes committed against persons should be punished by taking the life of perpetrator.

    Keep in mind too, that though it might not necessarily be the case here (i’m not going to reread all 77 comments to find out) I am instituting a policy that I’m not going to repeat myself unless I think it is necessary. Maybe I’ll link to one of my comments, maybe I wont, but thank Dan Traub for that.

  44. @ John,
    You have told us your feelings, not your reasoning — which I understand, but I was curious if you had reasons.
    You said, “my theology does not demand I support CO”
    You said, “I believe human life is valuable, and as such, certain crimes committed against persons should be punished by taking the life of perpetrator.”

    So, somehow, you believe that “Human life being Valuable” demands killing a killer. Correct?
    So, since your theology does not demand that conclusion, is there anything that does or is that just a feeling for you.
    If so, you seem to be cherry picking your theology to match your feelings.
    Or at least that is my perception.

    • First, “CO” was a typo, so you can start referencing “CP” (capital punishment).

      Second, I suppose the qualifier innocent would be appropriate. Just because innocent human life is valuable, and human life in general has value, that does not mean that taking the life of someone guilty of capital crimes is inconsistent.

      I’m not sure what you think is cherry-picked, I can only imagine that it will fall to using a King James Bible. perhaps you can tell me where my feelings have driven my theology. You would also have to argue that my first came the feelings, then came the theology. But I was very indifferent to nearly every political and religious conviction prior to my conversion. So in my case at least, my theology has shaped my feelings, not the other way around.

  45. So let me see if I have this correct:
    (1) “my theology does not demand I support CP”
    (2) Either (a)”human life is valuable”; (b)”human life in general has value” and/or (c) “innocent human life has value”

    So I see no REASON why you believe a Murderer should be killed. Since your theology does not demand it, then something else in you must call for it. Either it is a feeling or some reason not yet put forth.

    Since it seems you are saying you had no opinion on CP prior to your conversion, and you can’t see theological pressing reasons for demanding it, I can only imagine something else is at play that you aren’t aware of.

    Perhaps your reading of the OT has given you that feeling. Zero1Ghost seems to suggest his NT reading gives him another feeling.

    Or perhaps you somehow think that it is a “Natural Law” which is clearly put intuitively in our head by Yahweh — that is, circuitry that says:

    “If someone kills an innocent person, surely they shall be put to death.”

    Or is there something else that tells you: “The US government should kill people convicted by US courts of murder.”

    For, as you said, it is not in your Bible.

    • I didn’t say it wasn’t in the Bible, It’s explicitly endorsed or commanded in both the OT and the NT. The NT has the example of Paul in Roman 13 affirming the Government’s authority to use capital punishment.

      I just don’t get what you are asking. I am certain over the course of 70+ comments I have told you why I support it. Capital punishment is a just punishment. You and Zero persistently filter your opinion through the idea that the possibility of putting an innocent person to death is the same as probably putting innocent people to death. Just because something is possible doesn’t make it probable, and all the evidence so says we havent. it is possible, but there is no evidence of it yet.

  46. @ John
    I am familiar with OT support, here is the NT you mentioned:

    Romans 8: 4-5 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

    Yeah, indeed, that passage does seems to hint at Capital Punishment as a tool of Yahweh.

    But I was curious, as I have already asked twice and now trice: that if “[your] theology does not demand I support CP”, what does demand it? You keep avoiding this question.

    One possible answer is to say, “OK, I may have mistakenly phrased that. Indeed, my reading of the Bible does demand that I see CP and a rightful tool of governments.”
    Otherwise, I am not sure what justification, if not Biblical (unless you have had special revelations which are privy to many Christians) for CP.

    And if “[your] theology does not demand I support CP”, do you think that anti-CP Christians can be reading their Bibles consistently, even if not consistent with your stances? Or must all consistent Christians agree with you?

  47. Sabio

    You keep asking “what demands…” as though I have no choice but to hold the view I do, or that I am somehow commanded to and have something that requires it. I’m not required, nothing demands, I have even said in previous comments that I don’t have to hold this view, and if I were to discover innocent men executed who are later exonerated by evidence I would reconsider my support. I have also said I do not support capital punishment in a country like China. So there is obviously nothing that demands I hold this view. You keep asking it as though I have never made any of this clear. I believe it is a just punishment for a capital crime. I believe the concept is a legitimate one. I do not believe it is immoral to take the life of a murderer. So what more can I possibly add to that to satisfy you so will you will relent with the “I see a pattern…”?

  48. “But I was very indifferent to nearly every political and religious conviction prior to my conversion.”
    -the standard in America is that the majority supports CP, some 70% according to recent surveys. Given you’d be influenced and thus start at or at least leaning toward this position of pro-CP before your conversion, what has changed afterwards?

    Fact of the matter is: Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations tend to be supportive of the death penalty (a.k.a. the retentionist position). Exceptions are the Mennonites and Amish. The Roman Catholic Church and mainline & liberal denominations tend to be abolitionist (i.e. opposed to the death penalty). (article: with further resources: I’m a ‘mainline’ pastor, you seem to be a retentionist.

    The way I see the divide is whether you believe God is vengeful, demanding death and a tit-for-tat arrangement or is God compassionate, luring souls into a love so great that no one can be considered an enemy.

  49. If Troy Davis is guilty of this crime (it’s obviously beyond a reasonable doubt in your mind) then my question is this: would you have aborted him knowing that this would happen? Would you have aborted other murderers when they were babies if you could or had direct knowledge that they would commit these crimes later in life?

    • No, I would not advocate his abortion. When he is still in the womb, he is innocent. What you are talking about is like that of “Minority Report”. But our fate is not determined. I realize this is hypothetical, but it doesn’t follow. For example, I know my oldest daughter very well. I know for a fact that if I ask her to clean her room right now, she will not do it the way it is supposed to get done. With her, if she doesn’t clean her room all the way, I take one dollar off her allowance.

      ‘I’m taking a dollar off your allowance”
      “why, what did I do?”
      “I’m going to ask you to clean your room, and I know you wont do it all the way, so I’ll just deduct it now”

      Even though I know it will inevitably happen, it would be wrong to punish her when she hasn’t yet done anything wrong.

      Similarly, it is not my place to preemptively punish someone. It is not my place to take innocent life. God has allowed us to punish with capital punishment for murders. But no one has the go ahead to punish prior to crimes. Even in the bible, God doesn’t act (punish) prior to sin being committed. Even though He knows the beginning from the end, and knows what we will do, punishment doesn’t come until after the crime.

  50. “Even though He knows the beginning from the end, and knows what we will do, punishment doesn’t come until after the crime.”
    -so that rules you out for being a Calvinist, no predestination for you.

    “God has allowed us to punish with capital punishment for murders.”
    -Yet God was an innocent who was killed with capital punishment. That counts for nothing then? That has been my argument from the start, let’s recap:

    Troy was very possibly innocent; 7 of the 9 witness against him in his trial have since recanted, citing police coercion. This was held in GA, a state seeped in racism and a judicial system that has been (The late David Baldus, a law professor at the University of Iowa, studied nearly 2,500 murder cases in Georgia, and found that defendants convicted of murdering white victims were over four times more likely to be sentenced to death as defendants charged with murdering black victims. Georgia valued white lives more than black lives.

    When the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2008 refused to hear an appeal in Troy’s case, a dissenting opinion from the Chief Justice stated “if recantation testimony, either alone or supported by other evidence, shows convincingly that prior trial testimony was false, it simply defies all logic and morality to hold that it must be disregarded categorically.”

    Former Republican Congressman and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr wrote that he is “a strong believer in the death penalty as an appropriate and just punishment,” but that the proper level of fairness and accuracy required for the ultimate punishment has not been met in Davis’s case.

    We agree on the preemptive ethic on both murders and on parental justice both human and divine (that also should mean you’re against any preemptive strikes and are sad about HOW we went to war in Iraq) and that at least is something…

Any Thoughts?

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