No doubts about death penalty


The New York Times had to take a deep breath, but did report that approximately12 recent studies have determined that the death penalty saves lives and serves as a deterrent.

Of course, instead of the headline “Death Penalty Saves Lives,” the Times masked the clear results by titling it “Does Death Penalty Save Lives? A New Debate.” Upon reading, it is clear that all of the studies quoted showed that it does save lives, with some saying that for every execution up to 18 murders are prevented.

Once I was asked whether I was for or against the electric chair. The moderator knew the answer, but was shocked when I answered that I was against it. He asked why, and I said I opposed the use of the chair because we had waited too long. Rather, I was now in favor of electric bleachers — so we could do some catching up.

My father was in law enforcement and I have seen the worst of mankind. And it was not just at our family Thanksgiving dinners. It is very clear to me both on an intuitive and practical level that certain and swift consequences for killing (and in my view, molesting or raping) another person should be imposed by our society. In short, we simply should say that “if you kill someone, we will kill you back.” I am sure the actual statute would contain more legal verbiage than that, but the message should be the same.

Now there is always the liberal knee-jerk reaction that we, in the course of frying 1,000 of our lowest forms of life, might convict an innocent man. But in my view, that is the cost of doing business. Yet I would say to these folks that with advances in DNA evidence, surveillance cameras and other law enforcement technologies, there will be fewer mistakes in the future.

In reading Norman Mailer’s obit recently, I was reminded that this liberal icon was the toast of New York City and the media when he won the release of a convicted murderer. But there was just a small footnote: The guy murdered again within weeks of his release.

Oops! Remember, liberals want a moratorium on the death penalty just for themurderer, not his victims.

I encourage you to read about the “BTK killer” (Blind, Torture and Kill), who murdered 10 people from 1974 until 1991. If you dig past the 2005 arrest headlines that he was his church congregation president,you will discover a fact that is very telling: By his own admission he stopped in 1991 when Kansas adopted the death penalty.

If you have ever sat on a trial, you know that almost all the benefit of the doubt goes to the defendant. We, through our tax dollars, provide an inordinate amount of legal support to capital murder defendants. Just read my column on Atlanta courthouse murderer Brian Nichols called “Justice is more than a blank check to attorneys” at Millions have been spent on his defense even though Nichols shot deputies and others on camera. Believe me, if someone goes to trial for murder, there is overwhelming evidence because states cannot afford too many of these trials.

For us to be ashamed in the world’s eyes for employing the death penalty is misplaced. We have as evolved a legal system as any country in the world. For that, we should make no apologies.

I have full confidence in juries across the country to do the right thing when it comes to voting for a murder conviction (except Los Angeles). Every jury that I have sat on has given me a good feeling about the people in the community.

The profiles of capital cases are so high, and there are so many anti-death penalty groups out there that will pounce on egregious prosecutions, I feel justice is served. Yet, even if convicted, murderers sit on death row for appeal after appeal until they die of old age. Scott Peterson, who killed his pregnant wife, might be young enough to actually live through years of appeals to actually be executed on death row. I would love to pull the lever on that one.

To me, it comes down to the simple view that the most violent among us only understand the fear of such violence on themselves. Reasoning with them and “trying to understand them” just does not work.

And clearly, we have to be careful about executing minors. It is something that we rarely do, but when done, it certainly makes teenagers think twice about carrying a fake I.D.

Ron Hart is a Southern libertarian columnist who writes a weekly column about politics and life. He worked for Goldman Sachs and was appointed to The Tennessee Board of Regents by Lamar Alexander Hart is an investor in a real estate venture in Wilson County. His email: