The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below


Death penalty opponents say that the death penalty has a foundation in hatred and revenge. Such is a false claim.


A death sentence requires pre existing statutes, trial and appeals, considerations of guilt and due process, extreme protections for defendants and those convicted. Revenge requires none of these and, in fact, does not even require guilt or a crime.
Unlike revenge, those directly affected by the murder are not allowed to be fact finders in a legal case.


The pre trial, trial. appellate and executive clemency/commutation processes offer much  greater time and human resources to capital cases than they do to any other cases, meaning that the facts tell us that defendants and convicted murderers, subject to the death penalty, receive much greater care and concern than those not facing the death penalty – the opposite of a system identified with either hatred or vengeance.


Calling executions a product of hatred and revenge is simply a way in which some death penalty opponents attempt to establish a sense of moral superiority. It can also be a transparent insult which results in additional hurt to those victim survivors who have already suffered so much and who believe that execution is the appropriate punishment for those who murdered their loved one(s).


Far from moral superiority, those who call capital punishment an expression of hatred and revenge are often exhibiting their contempt for those who believe differently than they do.  Instead, they might reflect on why others believe it is a just and deserved sanction for the crimes committed.


The pro death penalty position is based upon those who find that punishment just and appropriate under specific circumstances. Retributive justice as opposed to revenge.


Those opposed to execution cannot prove a foundation of hatred and revenge for the death penalty any more than they can for any other punishment sought within a system such as that observed within the US – unless such opponents find all punishments a product of hatred and revenge – an unreasonable, unfounded position


Far from hatred and revenge, the death penalty represents our greatest condemnation for a crime of unequaled horror and consequence. Lesser punishments may suffice under some circumstances. A death sentence for certain heinous crimes is given in those special circumstances when a jury finds such is more just than a lesser sentence.


Less justice is not what we need.


A thorough review of the criminal justice system will often beg this question: Why have we chosen to be so generous to murderers and so contemptuous of the human rights and suffering of the victims and future victims?


The punishment of death is, in no way, a balancing between harm and punishment, because the innocent murder victim did not deserve or earn their fate, whereas the murderer has earned their own, deserved punishment by the free will action of violating societies laws and an individual’s life and, thereby, voluntarily subjecting themselves to that jurisdiction’s judgment.


copyright 2001-2009, Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
Pro death penalty sites 



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