Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

Fight the Death
Penalty in USA

Comments from visitors - 1998

Date: Fri, 02 Oct 1998
From: Mia Campos, USA
I believe the DP is a tremendous detterant to mainstream society. It specifically refers to those who commit the act's with clear premeditation and will continue to be a threat to society - at least in TX. Whether this is "proven" at the accused's trial is sometimes a flaw in our judicial system. Because these trials are turned over to ordinary citizens, I agree that most of the DPs handed down are due to an emotional reaction. I believe we show our basic humanity by our emotions. This includes my thought that a majority of murders are "crimes of passion" and would not fall under the Texas DP.
I also believe that there are victims on both sides, the loved ones of both the murered and the murderer. Grief is a personal journey and whether revenge/justice is served and benefits those victims, is for those involved to decide for themselves.
I only recently became seriously interested in the DP and all its ramifications. This was after attending the rally outside the prison walls on Feb.3, 1998 before and during Karla Faye Tucker-Brown's execution.
I put together a page on Karla's execution. Please feel free to visit.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my personal views.
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your mail.

Date: Fri, 02 Oct 1998
From: keith byrne
What other action, other than execution is moral and ethical when dealing with the defective brutes who savage innocent people?
If a rabid dog is shambling down a street full of families and playing children,what do you do??
Sit and wring your hands and agonize over the dog, and how it got in such a state?? Think of ways to spare it and take it alive??
No. You grab the nearest rifle and kill it. Kill it as quickly and humanely as possible. Not for vengance, but because it represents an unacceptable danger to every living thing around it.
Not to kill it would be the immoral and unethical choice. To do otherwise is to play games with the lives of innocent people.
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your mail.
First, I fail to see the similarity between a rabid dog and a human being.
I am aware of USA's great tradition for comparing human beings like negroes and indians with animals, but I don't agree, and I think it's about time that USA as one of the last countries in the civilized world acknowledges that there is only one species of human beings and that human rights apply to all members of it.
This does not mean that I don't think that offenders should be punished - but not in medieval ways like you do.
And even if I accepted the parallel with the rabid dog, none of the death row inmates are "shambling down a street full of families and playing children".
Being placed in high security prisons I fail to understand how the poor bastards can represent a continuing threat to a society like the great USA which is able to send people to the moon.
It is ok to do almost whatever it takes to prevent somebody from committing henoius crimes, but when he is caught, cuffed and pacified it takes nothing less than a coward or a sick person to execute him.

From: Flores, Carlos E
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 11:54:24 -0800

Yes your right, there is a new book out, called the new testament. Why dont you read it sometime. Jesus said to forgive those who do harm to you, 70 times 70 if need be, but he never said that that would void all responsibility of the individual. If a person takes anothers most precious gift, which is life, than he/she too should lose that precious gift. I dont know you but I would be willing to bet that you have never been a victim of a brutal crime. And I hope to God you never are, but ill also bet anything that if you ever have the misfortune of having a family member being a victim, you will see things very very differently.
Not enough is said about the victims, everybody is so worried about the garbage in the death rows.... give me a break. Plus the fact that you dont live in the US is disturbing.
Come on over here and see all the brutality that goes on here, and you might change your mind. Examine yourself, you know that the death penalty is a necessary tool and thank god for it!!!
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your mail.
It is many years ago since I read the bible, yes.
The reason for that is that I trust my own common sense, instead of being dependent on the bible or other substitutes you might suggest - and abuse as you prefer to.
Yes, I would probably seek a cruel revenge right after I or a family member had been the victim of a brutal crime.
Therefor I am grateful to live in a modern society, where these issues are being dealt with by the authorities and not by the individuals.
I am also grateful to live in a society which is more concerned about providing a long-term and efficient support for the closure of the victims and their families, instead of pretending to support them by offering them a revenge, which to my knowledge has never helped any of them on the long term.
If you really care so much for the victims I suggest you save all the money being spent on death penalty cases and use them for the help of the victims instead. This crap about the concern for the victims is nothing but an excuse to satisfy your own bloodthirst. I haven't seen any dp-supporters come up with any suggestions for an effective support for the victims.
I don't need to go to USA to learn about the brutality there, I read and heard enough of it already. This is depressing - but it is even more depressing that no-one seems to be interested in doing anything efficient about it.

I find the correspondence right under here with an Virginian male quite interesting. Instead of removing the submission as requested I removed name and e-mail address to ensure the anonymity of the hero.
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 14:11:36 +0000
From: ---
E-mail: ---

Where do you reside? If not in the USA, then you really have no basis for arguing about how our system works.
If you are in Europe, you have to realize that our country is a whole different world. We are bigger, more populated, and more industrialized than your part of the world.
With this comes more crime. We have to deal with crime the way we see fit.
If your country doesn't agree with the DP, then don't enforce it.
Obviously, we feel it is a just punishment for someone who has needlessly taken another's life. So be it.
We recently had a man put to death in Virginia. He said that his children shouldn't be subjected to a life without their father, so his execution should be stopped... for the sake of HIS children. What about the two daughters of his victime who he tied up and made watch while he sexually molested and stabbed their mother repeatedly until she died. Sorry.
Comments from Niels:
I live in Denmark, but I think I have a much better knowledge of the American "justice" system and how it works than does the average american.
Besides that, Human Rights is not only a national, but also an international issue. I think you as an american should know that after all the times your country has forcefully invaded other nations, pretending to defend democracy and human rights.
But I do not suggest that others do the same to USA - I believe that words and argumentation are more appropriate methods than weapons - not least when we are dealing with democracy and human rights.
Your fatalistic way of blaming the American industrialization for the crime rate might work where you come from. Industrialization is a good basis for conflicts and social problems.
But the degree of industrialization is not the only difference between USA and for instance Europe.
Another difference is that USA has a social policy, an education policy, a health policy and a culture policy which most Europeans would be ashamed of. This could be the reason for all your social problems and your high crime rates.

Have you asked the two daughters of the victim whether they feel better now that the daughter of the murderer has lost her father?

Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 17:34:47 +0000
From: ---
E-mail: ---
thank you for your response. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I still feel the same way. Please take my E-Mail off your site. I didn't realize it would be posted on your site. I would rather not have it there. thank you.
So what you're asking for is the chance to regret - which you won't grant the inmates on death row?

Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 18:08:17 +0000
From: ---
E-mail: ---
No, sir. I don't regret my comments and besides, I didn't murder anyone. I just thought this was a mature, intelligent forum to discuss my opinion with someone who may not agree with me. I would appreciate it if you took my letter off your site, but if you would rather not, that is fine. thank you.
The degree of maturity is not a property of this place, but of the people who use it.
If ever you find the courage not to be anonymous you'll be welcome to present your opinions here.

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998
From: Tom Brown
I'm really not sure what to write. I am a twenty-one year old student at the University of Buffalo researching the death penalty.
My course is taught by a man who was on death row for several years and then was released. He is very bitter and pretty much attacks every part of the US criminal justice and political systems which i have much belief in.
I am pro capital punishment, or at least I think I am. He has made many points opposing my beliefs and has somewhat broadened my horizons on the subject.
But any way I am doing a paper on the death penalty and I would love to include anything that you have to say about it.
God Bless
Tom Brown
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your mail.
It's a little difficult for me to know what to answer - not least because I don't know what kind of research paper you are supposed to write, what your field of study is etc.
It is my impression that most people who support the dp do so mainly or exclusively on an emotional basis - which also includes prejudices and lack of knowledge of the facts. Of course, this it their right, but now that you are making a research I believe it would be useful for you to ask yourself why you support the death penalty. Is it because you believe that
  • the dp has a deterrent effect and reduces crime
  • the relatives of the victims can find closure by an execution
  • the relatives and the rest of society are entitled to have revenge
  • it is unfair to let the tax-payers pay for the housing of a murderer
  • it is in accordance with the bible, koran or whatever
  • etc. etc.
What I mean is that it has no purpose to discuss the dp before you have made the premisses clear for yourself and for those you discuss with.

And I think it would be useful also to concentrate on the guy who teaches the course. You write he is very bitter and attacks every part of the US criminal justice and political systems.
You could choose to believe that he was born a very bitter man or that his bitterness is the result of a virus. But you could also choose to believe that bitterness grows out of bad treatment and that everybody would turn out to be like him if they had experienced what he has. Quite natural and understandable.
If this is the way you choose to understand him, you could go a couple of steps further:
We know that a very big majority of the inmates on death row (and among the general population in prisons) has been subject to maltreatment - like violent parents, incest, lack of love from their family, ignorant school systems, poverty, missing job opportunities etc.
They have had the feeling that no-one cares about them.
The majority of them has also been incarcerated - perhaps for many years - for minor crimes, and have probably been treated like inferior creatures by the authorities, prison staff etc.
Is it not natural that they develop bitterness? And is it so surprising that this bitterness sometimes brings them into situations where they kill? And do you believe that they in these situations even think of the possibility of being executed for what they are about to do?
I am absolutely not trying to defend their acts - only trying to understand WHY it so happens.

You write that you have belief in the US criminal justice. I could write a lot about that (which I have also done on other pages on this website) - but I will write only this: Most of the inmates on death row have shared this belief - before they became subject of the system.
I hope you will find an easier way to revise your opinion about it than they did.
Good luck with your research.

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998
I'm a big supporter of the death penalty. I believe that everybody has the right to live if there not going around and brutally rapping, torturing and murdering innocent people. I know that not everybody on death row brutally murdered somebody. But murdering someone by running them over with your car is the same as killing them with an axe. There still dead and the murderers can't do anything except say how they "found god" and "that they our sorry" and "promise not to hurt anybody again". These murders are so full of shit.
They are just scared there about to face the same black emptiness that there victims faced. Except their ass's are going to rot in hell for ever.
I'm only eighteen years old and my words might seem strong and harsh to some of you activists, but I and millons of others don't care. We are the people with morals, not you fools that are trying to save a person that killed an innocent person. How could you honestly sit and tell friends of my family that had a long time friend killed by a woman who stabbed her seventy plus times, that the murder should be allowed to live. If you could sit there and say your sorry and that we can't bring her back but she should be allowed to live it's her right. Unless you have been through the situtation you should shut up and take a seat. The decision should be left up to the family of the victim.
I believe you guys have your right to your opinion, but I don't believe you have a right to say to anybody that has had a loved one killed that they should let the murdering ass hole live.

P.S. I hope that one of those bastards doesn't reach out and change your life or some one you know. You might just change your mind about the death penalty. You might just be hoping that you had the chance to pull that lever or to inject that poision.
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your comment.
I'm glad too see your concern for the victims families.
Have you ever considered if there could be other - and perhaps more effective - ways of helping them to find closure?
And now that you are so concerned about the relatives of the victims, have you ever thought about how it could be to be the relative of somebody being executed?

Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998
From: Jennifer Jones
I live in Huntsville, Tx and I have been reading some of the comments on your web page.
While I agree with some of your points, I am appalled at the fact that everyone seems to be forgetting about one person: the victim.
What about their rights?
They didnt have a choice on what happened to them and the person guilty of killing them should pay for their crime. They knew the consequences of their actions before they committed the crime.
Also, its not like we execute as soon as they are sentenced. Most people sit on death row for a decade or more!
They are given ample opportunity for appeals and such, money or not.
Even though I favor the DP, I enjoy hearing arguments against it so that I can better understand their side and where they are coming from. Its important in any issue to know both sides and I hope everyone can see where I am coming from.
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your mail. Nice to hear from a dp-supporter who is interested in opinions from 'the other side'.
I simply don't understand this talk about the rights of the victims. These people are dead, and that is terrible - also for their families and friends. They have the right to be remembered, respected and honored, but I don't think it makes sense to talk about other rights.
Apart from one: They should have the right not to have died in vain, meaning that we ought to respect them by saying: After this terrible incident we will do something effective to stop this meaningless killing.
But instead of that the dp supporters talk about revenge, more effective death penalty, stronger prison regimes etc. - although it is obvious that it has no positive effect at all.
This is the 'right' they are being offered - the rigth to revenge.
And the same goes for the rigth of the families and friends: They are given the right to watch the execution of the murderer, and that's it.
I think demonstrating real concern for these people - and for other victims and their relatives - would be to demand real and effective counseling for them to support their healing - without them having to pay for it. But I never hear dp-supporters raising such a request.
And when I hear dp-supporters talk about the right of victims they are concerned only about those who have been murdered and the revenge for them.
Why not discuss how we can protect the 'future victims' the thousands of people who will, statistically, be murdered in the years to come. Why not talk about effective ways of reducing violence? And it is obvious that the death penalty is not the answer to that.
Niels Graverholt

Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998
I think your page has a lot of truth and I am glad I visited your page.
I also feel that the US should Abolish the Death Penalty!
Texas Politicians all seem to want to continue with this insanity of building more prisons and continuing to murder inmates.
They have did away with any thing to rehabilitate prisoners and are taking away their medical care saying they should pay for it when they have no way to do so sense they pay most inmates little or nothing.
The ones confined in solitary can not work and often these men have serious medical problems.
Please visit my site at
Best regards
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your mail
I think the fundamental problem is that many American politicians - and apparently also the voters who support them - feel that they have the right to regard inmates as members of a special species whom they can treat exactly as the like to.
The same used to be the case earlier with colored people - and apparently still is for some individuals. And the same sometimes goes for people who are poor or out of job.
As long as these politicians and their voters don't realize that all human beings belong to the same species and are entitled to be treated as such I am afraid there will be no change.
Apparently some people are dependent on some kind of racism, being it against colored, poor or unemployed people.
The only development is that the racism changes its face from time to time.

Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998
From: "Ben \"The Kid\"

While you do make several accurate points about retarded persons executed, please realize that they almost all take place in Texas, and you can not judge the USA by the actions of this one state, as any non-texan american will gladly tell you.
America is not as bad as you make it out to be.
The presence of the death penalty varies by state, and this varies with the current governer.
My state, New York, didn't have the DP for 12 years under one governer, then when he finially got beat in the elections, a new one, Pataki, took his place and reinvoked the DP.
America is the gobal example of human rights and equality because we were and are the pioneers of this concept, something that you can not deny.
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your mail.
I do realize that Texas is the most unscrupulous state when it comes to disrespect for human rights. But as far as I know Texas is acting within the limits of the American Constitution which has been approved by citizens in all American states.
I also regret the election of Pataki and feel sympathy for his opponents, but I do not suppose that you will deny that he was elected by a majority of New York voters?
I don't have to deny that "America is the gobal example of human rights and equality". I believe there are many indigent prisoners - general population as well as death row inmates - who will do that for me. Perhaps even O.J.Simpson will admit it some day.
Finally I want to stress that of course I sympathize with all American abolitionists who fight for human rights in their country, but I think that it is striking that during my time on Internet I have met more non-Americans than Americans being concerned about the human rights situation in the USA, and the president also seems to be more concerned about human rights in other countries than in his own.

Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 15:20:30 EDT

IT'S SIMPLE STUPID, TAKE A LIFE, LOOSE YOURS HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Comment from Niels:
I envy people who have such well-developed analytic skills as yours.

From: STDCTH13
Date: September 17, 1998

From the capital of capital punishment, Huntsville, Texas, USA.
The main reason that capital punishment is used in this country is because the citizens strongly support it.
Though the system of appeal is not perfect, we give every inmate every possible chance of re-arguing the specifics of his or her case.
Moderate limits must be placed on this process or the punishment would never be carried out (too the hopes of the inmate). I do not agree that the USA should be placed along with China and the other nations named, because those countries allow minimal or no "due process" of the law.
If you check the murder rate of the US, it will be shown that as more executions are completed the lower the murder rate, overall, becomes.
There have been been numerous studies that show that there is a relationship, minor yes, between executions and the murder rate.
I am sorry you feel that the US is the worlds policeman, the majority of the people of the US do not agree with those policies. As we do not, like your people, like other countries attempting to influence their majority beliefs on us.
Your web page is a great source of facts and updated information.
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your comment.
I do not agree that the citizens strongly support the death penalty.
Giving the alternative LWOP (Life prison without the possibility of parole) a majority of the citizens (a small majority, admitted) prefer LWOP. And the latest poll in Texas (March 1998) shows that 72% favor changing Texas law to include a sentence of life without parole.

But the problem is that populistic and unscroupolous politicians find it more convenient to ignore this fact and the fact that the dp has no positive effect at all - because the "Tough on crime" is a convenient issue in political campaigns - especially for lazy politicians who are more concerned about getting power than about solving the problems of their nation.
You write that you "give every inmate every possible chance of re-arguing the specifics of his or her case". This is true - if the inmate has the money to hire an attorney. But we have seen a lot of examples where an indigent defendant was given only minimal or no "due process" of the law, almost resembling the practice in China and other similar countries.
It is not correct that more executions reduce the murder rate, many surveys demonstrate the opposite effect.
You write that you do not like other countries attempting to influence their majority beliefs on you.
I believe that people in Grenada, Chile, Uruguay, Vietnam etc. would say the same. Not to mention all the countries where the CIA has supported dictators and other criminals.
And the death penalty is not only a national issue. This is about human rights, and therefore I any civilized person has both the right and the obligation to protest when US violates international treaties on human rights, treaties that the US has signed.
If the American people do not accept this critics, it is hard for me to believe that Americans do not accept being the policeman of the world.

From: Lee Stauffacher
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 07:20:20 -0700

Would your time not be much better spent helping and supporting the victims relatives, young and old, rather then the vermin who commit these horrible deeds?
You have the most confused priorities!
Why not spend your time with and on someone deserving help and sympathy!
I'm sure all these animals are innocent!
And if not, they are sooooooo sorry for what they have done!
Let them pay the penalty! I have no sympathy for them! The so sad letters they write about sitting and waiting for it to come make me sick. Let's not make them wait! Why should a victims relative have to pay taxes to keep them alive and continue further court costs!
I suspect most of your ilk are lawyers.
And I think we all know the true reason you you continue the fight!!!
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your comment.
I cannot see why the fight for civilized conditions and human rights in the American judicial system should exclude the support for the relatives of the victims.
Unless of course ones imagination is too narrow to think of other ways to support them than to kill more people and hurt their relatives too.
Btw: What do you do to support the relatives?
Niels Graverholt

From: Richardson, Scott
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 15:37:52

I am an American citizen I appreciate your opinions, however I disagree with what you say.
I also don't feel you have a clue about crime and punishment in the US.
Most Americans support the death penalty. You say more people support life without the possibility of parole.
This is a joke. I know very few people that would choose life without the possibility of parole over the death penalty.
The fact is, killers are released from jail even with life without the possibility of parole. A lot of them commit horrible crimes. There is no guarantee that they will not do it again.
The only way to protect society from these people is the death penalty.
I and most people I know don't care about whether or not the death penalty is a deterant. I want murders taken out of society. Period. Prison doesn't do it.
I live in a state that has the death penalty and I am happy about it.
If you don't like McDonalds don't eat there. If you don't like American TV don't watch it (I can't stand it either). If you don't like the death penalty don't commit a capital crime in the US.
I am not proud of some of the things my country has done in the past but is your country perfect?
I am not interested in changing your country so please leave mine alone.
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for your comment.
It is correct that most americans support the death penalty if you ask them "Do you support the death penalty". But it is a fact that if you give them the choice between the death penalty and life without parole a (small) majority prefers LWOP.
I agree that I do not know what people you know think about that, but I also think that surveys among the american population is more relevant for the discussion than the answers you may have received from people that you know.
I fail to understand why a european has to explain for an american that LWOP means life WITHOUT parole, and that means that the person in question do NOT HAVE A CHANCE TO BECOME RELEASED. I suggest that you get a better insight in the laws of your own country.
It is your right not to care about whether the death penalty is a deterrant.
But what I am trying to do is to discuss how we can get rid of crime, and therefor it is important for me to discuss what kind of sanctions are relevant for this - just like it is for must people who realize that we live in the 20'th century.
No, my country is not perfect, and I am really happy to here that you are not interested in changing my country - and I think that people in a number of countries like Grenada, Guatemala etc, would have appreciated if this had been the general opinion among americans.
But here we are talking about something called HUMAN RIGHTS, and it is obvious that USA with the death penalty and the way it is administered violates international declarations which USA itself has ratified.
In my eyes this is nothing but hypocrisy.
Niels Graverholt

Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998

Most prisoners who are on death row have comitted at least one murder if not two.
The bible says, "An eye for an eye-a tooth for a tooth".
Why should they get away with ending someones life but get to keep theirs?
The death penalty is fair for the people who deserve it!!
Comment from Niels:
As you seem to base your understanding of what's happening in the world only on the bible, I can inform you that there is a new book which can be purchased in most book-shops. It's called 'The New Testament'.
Niels Graverholt

From: Bob Parker
Date: Wed, 04 Feb 1998

Hi from Australia,
I agree with what you have put on your web site, and personally believe that the death penalty is a symptom of a barbaric society.
The fact that the death penalty is so prolific in the USA shows what a basically violent and uncaring society it is, beneath the surface of mindless TV shows and fast food stores.
Australia abolished the death penalty in the late 1950s, and I cannot believe it will ever be reintroduced.
Thank you for your website, maybe it will eventually get some reasonable people thinking. Those who have left the "fry 'em" sorts of comments would, no doubt, still be pro-death penalty if they were wrongly convicted of a capital crime and sentenced to death themselves. And "pigs fly".
Comment from Niels:
Thanks for the mail