For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists.
ALBERT CAMUS, Resistance, Rebellion and Death
I don’t think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I don’t think that’s right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people’s lives.
GEORGE W. BUSH, presidential debate, Oct. 17, 2000
Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
J. R. R. TOLKIEN, The Fellowship of the Ring
I support the death penalty. I think that it has to be administered not only fairly, with attention to things like DNA evidence, which I think should be used in all capital cases, but also with very careful attention. If the wrong guy is put to death, then that’s a double tragedy. Not only has an innocent person been executed but the real perpetrator of the crime has not been held accountable for it, and in some cases may be still at large. But I support the death penalty in the most heinous cases.
AL GORE, presidential debate, Oct. 17, 2000
Government ... can’t be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of its citizens to kill.
HELEN PREJEAN, Dead Man Walking
I know something about killing. I don't like killing. And I don't think a state honors life by turning around and sanctioning killing. Now, that's just a personal belief that I have.
JOHN KERRY, Wolf Blitzer Reports, CNN, Sep. 17, 1996
A humane and generous concern for every individual, his health and his fulfillment, will do more to soothe the savage heart than the fear of state-inflicted death, which chiefly serves to remind us how close we remain to the jungle.
RAMSEY CLARK, New York Times, Jul. 3, 1968
How come life in prison doesn't mean life? Until it does, we're not ready to do away with the death penalty. Stop thinking in terms of "punishment" for a minute and think in terms of safeguarding innocent people from incorrigible murderers.
JESSE VENTURA, I Ain't Got Time to Bleed
According to the L.A. Times, Attorney General John Ashcroft wants to take "a harder stance" on the death penalty. What's a harder stance on the death penalty? We're already killing the guy? How do you take a harder stance on the death penalty? What, are you going to tickle him first? Give him itching powder? Put a thumbtack on the electric chair?
JAY LENO, The Tonight Show
Death is not only an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality and in its enormity, but it serves no penal purpose more effectively than a less severe punishment; therefore the principle inherent in the clause that prohibits pointless infliction of excessive punishment when less severe punishment can adequately achieve the same purposes invalidates the punishment.
WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, judicial opinion, Jul. 2, 1976
When a juvenile commits a heinous crime, the State can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the State cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity.
ANTHONY KENNEDY, judicial opinion on Roper v. Simmons, Mar. 1, 2005
Since I was a law student, I have been against the death penalty. It does not deter. It is severely discriminatory against minorities, especially since they’re given no competent legal counsel defense in many cases. It’s a system that has to be perfect. You cannot execute one innocent person. No system is perfect. And to top it off, for those of you who are interested in the economics it, it costs more to pursue a capital case toward execution than it does to have full life imprisonment without parole.
RALPH NADER, Meet the Press interview, Jun. 25, 2000
If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by my friends the murderers.
ALPHONSE KARR, Les Guêpes, Jan. 31, 1849
I personally have always voted for the death penalty because I believe that people who go out prepared to take the lives of other people forfeit their own right to live. I believe that that death penalty should be used only very rarely, but I believe that no-one should go out certain that no matter how cruel, how vicious, how hideous their murder, they themselves will not suffer the death penalty.
MARGARET THATCHER, TV interview, A Plus 4, Oct. 15, 1984
It's just really tragic after all the horrors of the last 1,000 years we can't leave behind something as primitive as government sponsored execution.
Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and justifying their belief on an erroneous interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," their most likely response, overlooks the fact that this was promulgated by Moses as a limitation- a prohibition against taking both eyes or all of an offender's teeth in retribution.
JIMMY CARTER, Our Endangered Values