The Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional And Insane


I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases. Period.

I have many reasons. Here are a few of them.

First and foremost, I oppose it because it is immoral. That it is imposed following a jury trial and appellate review, does not wash the defendant’s blood off the jury’s hands and, by extension, our hands because state sanctioned premeditated murder is still premeditated murder. No government ever should be in the business of killing its own people.

Second, death penalty cases typically cost more than three times the cost of incarcerating a defendant to life without possibility of parole.

Third, the death penalty has no deterrent effect. It does not reduce homicide rates. In fact, the opposite is true. Homicide rates are highest in the states that have a death penalty and lowest in the states that do not have a death penalty.

Fourth, our criminal justice system is so infected with racism, corrupt, and broken that it is impossible to know for certain if any given defendant committed the crime charged and, if he did, whether he deserves the death penalty, as opposed to life without parole.

Most people do not know that under our laws there is no murder, however heinous or depraved, that automatically results in a death sentence. When a jury convicts a defendant of a death eligible offense, the case proceeds to a sentencing phase in which the jury ultimately must decide whether the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating evidence (typically the murder and the defendant’s prior record, if any) so outweighs the mitigating evidence (evidence about the defendant and his role in committing the murder) that the defendant should forfeit his life. Assuring consistency that similarly situated defendants convicted of committing similar murders are consistently sentenced to life without possibility of parole instead of death, or vice versa, has proven to be impossible within states, let alone between states.

In Callins v. Collins, 510 U.S. 1141 (1994), Justice Harry Blackmun dissented from the United States Supreme Court’s denial of review in a death penalty case stating,

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. For more than 20 years I have endeavored — indeed, I have struggled — along with a majority of this Court, to develop procedural and substantive rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor. Rather than continue to coddle the Court’s delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved and the need for regulation eviscerated, I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies. The basic question — does the system accurately and consistently determine which defendants “deserve” to die? — cannot be answered in the affirmative. It is not simply that this Court has allowed vague aggravating circumstances to be employed, see, e. g., Arave v. Creech, 507 U. S. 463 (1993), relevant mitigating evidence to be disregarded, see, e. g., Johnson v. Texas, 509 U. S. 350 (1993), and vital judicial review to be blocked, see, e. g., Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U. S. 722 (1991). The problem is that the inevitability of factual, legal, and moral error gives us a system that we know must wrongly kill some defendants, a system that fails to deliver the fair, consistent, and reliable sentences of death required by the Constitution.

He concluded,

Perhaps one day this Court will develop procedural rules or verbal formulas that actually will provide consistency, fairness, and reliability in a capital sentencing scheme. I am not optimistic that such a day will come. I am more optimistic, though, that this Court eventually will conclude that the effort to eliminate arbitrariness while preserving fairness “in the infliction of [death] is so plainly doomed to failure that it—and the death penalty— must be abandoned altogether.” Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U. S. 420, 442 (1980) (Marshall, J., concurring in judgment). I may not live to see that day, but I have faith that eventually it will arrive. The path the Court has chosen lessens us all. I dissent.

Justice Blackmun was a conservative Republican who believed strongly in the death penalty when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. As you can see, he finally reached the conclusion that it is impossible to fairly and equitably decide who lives and who dies. I reached the same conclusion, based on my 30 years of experience as a lawyer specializing in death penalty defense and forensics.

Justice Blackmun died in 1999.

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10 Comments on “The Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional And Insane”


  1. Where does the problem start? Is the prosecutor’s office responsible for turning these cases into death penalty cases?

    • masonblue Says:

      The county prosecutor decides what charges to file and whether to seek the death penalty. Counties with a large urban population generally seek the death penalty only in the most extreme cases. Rural counties with a relatively small population tend to seek the death penalty in cases that an urban prosecutor would not even consider eligible.

      Also, I was a member of Gary Ridgway’s defense team (Green River Killer) and he pled guilty to 48 premeditated murders in exchange for a life without parole sentence. If he didn’t get the death penalty, why should anyone?

      I am not arguing that he should have. I’m just saying that it’s difficult to justify sentencing someone who “only” committed 10 murders, for example, when he admitted killing 48.

  2. ed nelson Says:

    I don’t know if it is germaine at all to the subject, but to me, I would like to give any sentient being… aka lifer, the oportunity to request the death option. Some have.

    It should be on offer as a way to go out, save money, not have to do a life long pennance or “life” anybody should be able to say: “I want to get out of here, and give me death.”

    I would for one, ask for death, over a long sentence.

    What is your responce?

    • masonblue Says:

      I don’t know what I would do. I think I would prefer to find a way to cope and continue living. BTW, I have had this conversation with several death penalty clients.

      There are quite a lot of people who volunteer for the death penalty. The plead guilty and ask the jury to sentence them to death. Then they abandon their appeals to speed up the process. Washington State has executed five people. Three were volunteers.

  3. ed nelson Says:

    I for one, would not desire to prolong a condition of … torture.
    It is a common enough thing in nature… : See how the wasps take the spider off to be eaten. And so many other examples of that, which is so interestling, because, we are too.

    I left that just a little “cryptic” so what I mean is: we should be made aware of… that… we are like the spider… we are to be eaten alive.

    Eaten Alive….

    • masonblue Says:

      There was an Italian cannibal movie by that name filmed in the 70s.

      Eaten alive would violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the 8th Amendment and no, I don’t think we are destined to be eaten alive as the mud wasps do with tarantulas.

      • ed nelson Says:

        Thanks for the answer to my not too good comment… what I want to say is: that if … and this is… If one… found his/herself in that place… that place where you are going to stay forever: (Life in Prison ) and all that… I think it would be nice if we could have a way to go away… to pull the pin, an option.

        The system seems to have a big hatred of euthenacia, or suicide.

        That might be a subject to be studied, for reasons and ramifications…

        They don’t care about the welfare of us serfs, but they want to make sure … us serfs, will be subjected to the utmost pain, even in our dying days.

        when you know you will never see the light of day… never be free again… never be able to live a minute of normal life… you should be able to… “Pull the pin” and go to the next place.

        So what I am putting forth is, that if the system/governing/mulahs want death penalty for poor simple people who got caught up some where’s… then fine: let the many who live in the dungeons have a chance… give everbody a shot at getting a chance to die… and a way to go away, and to save the taxpayers from the ripoff, of paying for torture of those who are unfortunate.

        Death by suicide or euthanacia should be an option for long term condemned prisoners.

        The worst torture is not to be able to die.

      • masonblue Says:

        Hi Ed,

        I like your idea except for one thing. Torture is commonplace in maximum security prisons and I think the possibility of assisted suicide would motivate the torturers to attempt to drive people to commit suicide. I can even imagine guards competing with each other to see how many people they could drive to commit suicide and I would hate to see that happen.

  4. ed nelson Says:

    Here again on the subject of life in an always lighted/ never dark (for night) sound proofed box, with many unwanted sound effects pipped in, (not your favorite tunes, or more of them than you wanted,) forever and ever… on “they’re terms” not yours. Verses death:

    If I was in the hole/bottemless pit, and them were competing to see how they could move me and others to the gallows… maw or WTF
    I guess the thing to do… is, go with the best outcome for yourself, and in that place, it is a choice, which shouldn’t be too hard to consider, shall I die now, with my mind and all facalties, or should I go with the plan, and die a death of a thousand cuts…? On terms that these devils will control?

  5. ed nelson Says:

    Well Hi there Dr. and what I will put in there now is this comment, that I had prepared to send to Sibel , but come to find out that I am no longer allowed on that site, (banned) just like at the “spotty dog”, I sent some small amount of money to both, more to the spotty dog, I never got even one.

    It would hard be hard to design a better way to antagonize the whole world against a “counrd. So the word is out and the US, is using robots, to kill, that is not too kool!!!

    Now my quandry is: is that (to make Americans a periah, to make us into a monster image, Is that the desired end result…. ? I think it is, I think that is what they are happy to do, because these monsters are so bad, that there is no bottom too deep for em’.

    We are as Americans are under some weird occupation by something worse than extraterrestrials, we are under occupation by crooks/sociopathic.

    try” than what they are doing with the automated airplane drones. The whole world is paying attention, or they should. The people of the world, have been known to spread the word, the word will get out, crooks are dispicable and they will not prevail.


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