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Death Penalty Executions Hit 1,000

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executions by blue state and red state

Updated 2 December 12.05 am, EST
North Carolina Governor denies clemency and both the US Supreme Court and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reject final appeals. Kenneth Lee Boyd (NC) will be executed at 2 am; he will be the 39th person executed in North Carolina and the 1,000th in the US since 1976.

In the almost 30 years since the Supreme Court lifted the moratorium on capital punishment in 1976, federal and state governments have executed 999 prisoners. Texas leads the nation in executions; Department of Justice data ending in 2003 showed Texas with 44 percent (318) of those executions. The US joins China, Iran and Vietnam in leading the world in executions; it is estimated these four account for 97 percent of all executions in the world (overwhelmingly, most are in China, and those numbers are estimates).

If you live in a red state, you are more likely to face the death penalty and execution than if you live in a blue state: the odds are 9-to-1.

Should NC Governor Mike Easley grant clemency, the distinction of being number 1,000 shifts to South Carolina inmate Shawn Humphries, who is also scheduled to be executed on Friday. The milestone brings heightened media attention to the topic. More than 1,000 religious leaders have called for the abolishment of capital punishment:

We join with many Americans in questioning the need for the death penalty in our modern society and in challenging the effectiveness of this punishment, which has consistently been shown to be ineffective, unfair, and inaccurate…

With the prosecution of even a single capital case costing millions of dollars, the cost of executing 1,000 people has easily risen to billions of dollars. ..

As people of faith, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our opposition to the death penalty and to express our belief in the sacredness of human life and in the human capacity for change.

However, a majority of Americans support capital punishment, in part because of a belief that it serves as a deterrent but more because of the concept of retribution. Other Gallup research suggests that most Americans would not support capital punishment if it did not deter murder. A majority also believes that the death penalty is applied fairly. Conversely, a 2004 Texas study suggests most (64 percent) Lone Star State residents support halting executions to explore questions of fairness and accuracy.

See also The Death Penalty (Capital Punishment) in the United States and Executions by State and Method of Execution; Public Attitudes Toward Crime (DOJ).

From Around About:
Death Penalty: The Only Justice for Killers?,
Race and the Death Penalty – Is the Life of a White Person Worth More?,
Recent Legal History of the Death Penalty in America,
Top 10 Capital Punishment Videos

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This article first appeared at uspolitics.about.com

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About Kathy

  • Baronius

    Interesting topic (obviously). I notice that the polls you cited contradict each other regarding deterrence as well as fairness. That’s probably accurate, though, since emotional issues often yield contradictory responses.

    I hope that this topic gets a lot of comments. It should be pretty heated, considering the big execution in Calif. coming up, and the Virginia case (which would have been the 1000th execution) in which the governor granted clemency.

  • GoHah

    Red states have it right. In my particular blue state, we’ve had Stanley “Tookie” Williams in the death row pipeline for 24 years for a December 13 execution. Despite forensic and witness evidence that irrefutably proves that this Crips cofounder murdered four people, and despite the usual Hollywood leftist crowd crowing for clemency, and despite the dubious Nobel Peace nomination for childrens books (written “with”–read that “written by, most likely, someone else), I don’t care if he’s the 10,000th death penalty-bound sociopath. Try this: think of the violence and myriad of decades-long murders committed by the Crips gang by this cofounder. And in general, including the cases you’ve cited, think of the families of the murder victims of these animals. Where’s you’re “sacredness of human values” argument fit into this?

  • GoHah

    and I forgot: in regard to the California Tookie Williams case–the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the most liberal (and thankfully, the most overturned) court in the country has even refused to hear the case again. There’s your writing on the proverbial wall.

  • steve

    They should have an assembly line to get rid of all of those “people” on death row.

  • Housing revolting killers for their lifetime seems a cheap price to pay for our not becoming killers by proxy ourselves.

    I prefer to leave the Judgment of Death in the hands of Fate or the Universe rather than becoming a premeditated killer myself.

    And what do you do if you find out you had the wrong DNA after they fry? Say “Whoops”?

    If the Death Penalty worked as a deterrent those people wouldn’t be there on Death Row.

    Given that in this case we can’t re-make what we break, it seems the place for the highest road. There are no errors in compassion. Wasn’t that Jesus’ point? Compassion isn’t for when it’s easy. It’s for when it’s hard. Love your enemy. Loving your neighbor and your friend is for Hallmark cards. Jesus was asking the radical — the hardest thing. As we ask for our worst sins to be forgiven, not our peccadilloes.

  • It might would be bad to give delays to a couple of bad guys, but it’d be cool if it could work out that Tookie Williams in CA on 12-13 could work out to be that big #1000. Get a big celebrity execution.


  • Number 1,000 was taken at 2 AM, as the updated story notes.

    I concur with pogblog.

  • Well, I guess Tookie will just have to settle for being another anonymous number- much like the four people he was convicted of murdering.

  • Damn, those blue states need to get cracking. I guess we know why their taxes are so much higher, housing and feeding so many who ought to be enjoying a free dirt nap by now.


  • hi, dave –

    i find your comment to be non-conducive to a civil discussion.

    however, you might want to check your data source – it costs more $ per inmate for one on death row than life sentence because of all the legal fees.


  • Unfortunately Kathy is correct. The taxpayers would save a lot of money with Death Rows eliminated. That being said, I’m not an opponent of capital punishment provided that the sentence is meted out in a completely fair way. Since there is no such thing as equal justice in America today, I’d follow disgraced ex-Governor Ryan’s moratorium. That was the one gubernatorial act he executed that I support.

  • JR

    Dave Nalle: Damn, those blue states need to get cracking. I guess we know why their taxes are so much higher, housing and feeding so many who ought to be enjoying a free dirt nap by now.

    The blue states’ taxes are higher because they are subsidizing the red states.

    …or is that what you were referring to?

  • If we are going to be a country that continues to have a death penalty, it should be an homogenous process across all the states. Let’s take the case of Timothy McVeigh. Do you honestly think he would be dead today were it not for the enormous poltical ramifications that were at stake? Granted it was a federal death warrant. It’s just a case in point of how justice is not as blind as we pretend it to be. Those that don’t have the funds and/or political connections are the ones who get the harshest punishments. Insofar as executing the death warrant, there are too many pitfalls. The process should take no more than 2 to 3 years and be far less costly to the taxpayer. When will Scott Peterson be executed? On Connor’s 12th birthday?

  • GoHah

    maybe we should set all murders free to join O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake in looking for the real killers. Because DNA evidence is paradoxically both untrustworthy and well, okay it is solid proof–but it was planted! And reasonable doubt has now become unreasonably redifined.

    Or maybe we should have the courage of our convictions (in both senses of the word) and realize that new technology practically eliminates the “oops, wrong DNA” fallacy. I don’t know what to do about our every-which-way-but-lucid juries, except to employ a higher standard with professional juries, or majority-vote, logic-based, tamper-proof rulings.

  • however, you might want to check your data source – it costs more $ per inmate for one on death row than life sentence because of all the legal fees.

    Only because of the enormous number of appeals and the large amount of time inmates are kept on death row. In cases where there is DNA evidence or video or a confession we ought to fast track the execution with only a single appeal and have them executed within a year. I do think that every state ought to have a review board like the parole board that looks at death sentence cases and either recommends commutation to the governor or fast tracks the cases. There’s no point in keeping someone on death row for a prolonged period of time. Either kill them or give them life.


  • GoHah

    I’m sure that California’s marathon decades-long appeals process isn’t an economical one. Having said that, I of course realize that money shoudn’t be an issue when it comes to decisions about someone’s life. But a close and comprehensive consideration by a review board, as Dave mentions, could and should mitigate the absurd process and length of time for justice, and due execution, to be serviced.

  • Justin Berry

    Thank God, Yes I said God (please dont call ACLU) that we have Texas. I am thinking of moving there. I know some Texans and none of them have been executed. Can we extradite some of these California animals over there? Some of those people are in dire need of execution. No I am not God nor do I presume to judge anyone, all I care about is getting them to their real trial. And away from my loved ones.

  • GoHah

    “please dont call ACLU”

    nah, ACLU is too busy defending NAMBLA or something.

    [GoHah: Please don’t use don’t use the more/less than symbols. Thanks. Comments Editor.]

  • Justin Berry

    Thanks GoHah, I feel safer now. Who is NAMBLA? maybe I need defending from them? or do I need the ACLU? whats the deciding factor?

  • GoHah

    “Who is NAMBLA?”

    North American Man/Boy Love Association–you can figure out the rest. ACLU has actually defended them.

  • Justin Berry

    I guess I better start saving for my own lawyer. Is their anyone that the ACLU will not defend? I see in the near future that PETA will start defending deathrow inmates. What do you think?

  • It drives me INSANE when I see posts like the ACLU supports NAMBLA. Don’t start that crap without the proper caveats. So, for the record, here it is directly from their statement:

    ACLU Statement on Defending Free Speech
    of Unpopular Organizations

    Date of Release: 8/31/2000


    NEW YORK–In the United States Supreme Court over the past few years, the American Civil Liberties Union has taken the side of a fundamentalist Christian church, a Santerian church, and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. In celebrated cases, the ACLU has stood up for everyone from Oliver North to the National Socialist Party. In spite of all that, the ACLU has never advocated Christianity, ritual animal sacrifice, trading arms for hostages or genocide. In representing NAMBLA today, our Massachusetts affiliate does not advocate sexual relationships between adults and children.

    What the ACLU does advocate is robust freedom of speech for everyone. The lawsuit involved here, were it to succeed, would strike at the heart of freedom of speech. The case is based on a shocking murder. But the lawsuit says the crime is the responsibility not of those who committed the murder, but of someone who posted vile material on the Internet. The principle is as simple as it is central to true freedom of speech: those who do wrong are responsible for what they do; those who speak about it are not.

    It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive. That was true when the Nazis marched in Skokie. It remains true today.

  • GoHah

    Get your distinctions right. I’m well aware that the ACLU, in their extreme pendulum swing of irrationality, does not advocate NAMBLA, but it does indeed support and defend, and therefore–despite how you want to rationalize it–at least indirectly fosters their existence.

  • GoHah: Sorry but I must disagree. The ACLU defended the constitution, nothing more. It is unavoidable in a free society that some activities, rightly or wrongly, will be seen as unacceptable. Clearly, and the ACLU get this distinction, whilst we all might agree that what NAMBLA is proposing is wrong, they still have the right to make their case.

    If we are going to start unravelling this right, then I propose we censor all people called GoHah and kill them if they post in public. Feel that creepy feeling in the back of your neck? That’s my inter-continental anti-GoHah DNA tracking nanobot locking on…

    It’s important we all understand precisely where the boundaries are in order to protect everybody’s rights. The NAMBLA people have the right to talk about their interests and so do you. Action would of course be a different matter.

  • GoHah

    Christopher: We’ll agree to disagree, and I’ll just bow out grracefully for now. Believe me, I understand the issues–I’m just not a big believer in the avalanching slippery-slope shit slide. Why make it more conducive for groups like NAMBLA to engage in their nefarious actions?

  • GoHah: Personally I’d like to see all the namblites given therapy and other treatment for as long as it takes for they clearly have developmental problems all their own, probably on a compulsory basis, just as I would any other disease.

    On the other hand, you either believe in freedom of speech or you don’t. I’m already on record as saying FoS is over-rated but nontheless it is one of the prices we pay for our freedom.

  • Oh yes, to get back to the topic of this post – the death penalty is always wrong. So there!

  • GoHah

    maybe we should execute all members of NAMBLA to better safeguard free speech for their would-be victims.

  • Believe it or not, GoHah, I’m not all that opposed to the idea. But don’t point out NAMBLA only. In my mind any adult who rationalizes the sexual exploitation of a child isn’t worth their weight in sludge and deserves nothing short of a fatal beating. NAMBLA is one of many underground groups who exploit children. In our society, we try not to discuss “heterosexual” pedophiles for some strange reason choosing to concentrate on the more nefarious “queer” ones. It’s just another example of the American penchant for duplicity and/or hypocrisy.

  • GoHah

    Silas: well said, ’nuff said–thx.

  • From Name: GoHah
    Comments: maybe we should execute all members of NAMBLA to better safeguard free speech for their would-be victims.

    I certainly hope that this was intended as sarcasm.

    As others pointed out — the NAMBLA folks did not commit murder — someone else did.

    The tone of your posts suggests intolerance. Deviate from cultural norms = the gulag for you.

  • GoHah

    Kathy: You made me see the light–let’ skip the middlemen, the judges and the court, and go out and exact a little vigilante justice and kill ’em all ourselves.

    Intolerantly, Deviantly Yours, GoHah

  • GoHah

    “Oh yes, to get back to the topic of this post – the death penalty is always wrong. So there!”

    Christopher: I think I’m the one that got the topic off track (maybe hopelessly so)–sorry about that–Gordon

  • now that the u.s. has hit the 1000 1000 mark in executions,the next next one should be tookie williams. williams other than writing books for the the young brothers, he has never never admitted the crimes or nor was he a model prisoner larry

  • steve

    when are they going to finally put that “crip” in a crypt?

  • Baronius

    There was a very funny South Park episode about NAMBLA. Both of them: the North American Man/Boy Love Association and the National Association of Marlon Brando Look-Alikes. The Brando group hates the other one, by the way. But as the episode ended, and the NAMBLA guys were being dragged off to jail, the leader gave a speech about how society cannot survive as long as any group is being discriminated against, et cetera. Kyle cut in with, “Dude, you have sex with children. You have sex…with children.”

    Slippery slope and all, there’s a line you just can’t cross.

  • Stan

    Steve #35 Excellent comment. You made me laugh after reading all the bravo sierra comments off this blog. I remember this mother who had a young child that was mollested and killed by a dirt bag. She walked into the court room, pulled out a pistol from her purse, and as the bastard sat with his liberal attorney with a smile on his face shot him in the head. Now thats justice. Yes she went to jail. So would I. This mother did what our crap legal system cant do for lack of —-. Do not recall her name but hero will do.Wish the left coast still used the electric chair. We could sell cookie tookies at Christmas.

  • GoHah

    To Stan# 37: Ellie Nesler is her name, Northern California, and she’s a hero in my book, too.

  • Stan

    Thanks GoHah. Maybe California can adopt a new method of execution instead of lethal injection. For example. Stanley tookie Williams was executed last night with the newly adopted execution method (THE ELLIE NESLER) Many of the media people watching the event fainted as bits of Mr Williams brain and blood splatered onto the viewing window. Maybe Ellie Nesler would become a household word. Man im going to lay an Ellie Nesler on that sucker. Bumpers stickers, candy bars etc. Cant wait for the comments.

  • Stan, I find this attempt at humor (assuming that was the cause) warped and sick.

    FIW, Williams has appealed to the Govenor for clemancy and at this time (11.30 pacific) – no decision has been made.


    If you were serious – I’m 99% certain this would fall in the category of “cruel and unusual” punishment.


  • The cruelest and most unusual punishment is keeping death row inmates alive through a protracted appeals process. It’s cruel to the victims families and it only prolongs the anticipation of death for the death rowers.


  • No Dave, the cruelest punishment is to end someone’s life, whether it be done by criminal or the state. That’s why we don’t allow it or torture (timely topical add-on) in Europe.

  • We don’t allow torture here in the US either, but the timely administration of a humane death is not torture or cruelty. It is cruel to torture. It is not cruel to just cease to exist.


  • DAVE: I’m sorry mate but that is simply messed up.

    By our standards, everything you wrote is brutal, callous and inhumane in itself.

    IF it is true that you don’t allow torture within the USA, you’re certainly complicit in letting it happen elsewhere. Why would the USA even need places like Guantanamo or wherever outside the USA if it wasn’t to evade US law? It is laughable to pretend otherwise.

    And, “it is not cruel to just cease to exist”? Such casual brutality is simply shocking. I can’t even begin to address this deranged concept.