“Jitka Vesel, 36, was stalked and murdered by a rejected boyfriend from Canada who, before killing her, did research to determine that Illinois had ended the death penalty, according to DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.” (1)


“Dmitry Smirnov, 20, of British Columbia, met Vesel three years ago through an Internet dating site, moved to the Chicago area but returned to Canada after she ended their brief relationship. From there, Smirnov harassed Vesel, returning to the United States two weeks ago, buying a handgun in Seattle, gluing a GPS device to Vesel’s car to stalk her and surprising her in Oak Brook on Wednesday, when “he began shooting, he reloaded and he shot her some more.” (1)


“Smirnov said ‘he researched whether Illinois still had the death penalty and he researched it as recently as the morning of the murder,’ Berlin said.” (1)


“The abolitionists had their celebrations. Now, however, it appears repeal has claimed its first victim.” (1)


No surprise.


Of course the death penalty deters.  A review of the debate.
Dudley Sharp


1)  Anti death penalty folks say that the burden of proof is on those who say that the death penalty deters. Untrue.  It is a rational truism that all potential negative outcomes deter some – there is no exception. It is the burden of death penalty opponents to prove that the death penalty, the most severe of criminal sanctions, is the only prospect of a negative outcome that deters none.  They cannot.


2) There have been 27 recent studies finding for death penalty deterrence. A few of those have been criticized. The criticism has, itself been rebutted and/or the criticism doesn’t negate no. 1 or nos. 3-10.


3) No deterrence study finds that the death penalty deters none. They cannot.


4) About 99% of those murderers who are subject to the death penalty do everything they can to receive a lesser sentence, in pre trial, plea bargains, trial, in appeals and in clemency/commutation proceedings. Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life. No surprise. Would a more rational group, those who choose not to murder, also share in that overwhelming fear of death and be deterred by the prospects of execution? Of course.


5) There are a number of known cases of individual deterrence, those potential murderers who have stated that they were prevented from committing murder because of their fear of the death penalty. Individual deterrence exists.


6) General deterrence exists because individual deterrence cannot exist without it.


7)  Even the  dean of anti death penalty academics, Hugo Adam Bedau, agrees that the death penalty deters .. . but he doesn’t believe it deters more than a life sentence.  Nos. 4-6 and 10 provide anecdotal and rational evidence that the death penalty is a greater deterrent than a life sentence. In addition, the 27 studies finding for deterrence, find that the death penalty is an enhanced deterrent over a life sentence.


8) All criminal sanctions deter. If you doubt that, what do you think would happen if we ended all criminal sanctions? No rational person has any doubt. Some would have us, irrationally, believe that the most severe sanction, execution, is the only sanction which doesn’t deter.


9) If we execute and there is no deterrence, we have justly punished a murderer and have prevented that murderer from ever harming/murdering, again. If we execute and there is deterrence, we have those benefits, plus we have spared more innocent lives. If we don’t execute and there is deterrence, we have spared murderers at the cost of more innocent deaths.


10) Overwhelmingly, people prefer life over death and fear death more than life.


“If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call.” 

John McAdams – Marquette University/Department of Political Science





(1) Repeal of death penalty backfires

2 thoughts on “Repeal of death penalty backfires in Illinois

  • April 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Outstanding posting, all of this is very similar to a blog that I publish. Please check it out and feel free to leave me a comment on it and tell me what you think. I’m always looking for feedback.

  • September 24, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Mr. Dudley Sharp, there are many reasons to support abolition: it’s barbaric and it creates a brutalizing effect–an effect that you deny, even when its been well documented. Have you ever discussed this brutalization effect with Dr. Joanna Shepherd or Dr. Allen Ault…people who are actually considered experts? Continue cherry picking the data, Mr. Sharp. The direction of progress is against state-sponsored killing.


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