Capital Punishment Quotes

Quotes tagged as "capital-punishment" Showing 1-30 of 47
J.R.R. Tolkien
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Joe Abercrombie
“We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.”
Joe Abercrombie, Before They Are Hanged

George Bernard Shaw
“Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men.”
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

Friedrich Nietzsche
“There is a certain right by which we many deprive a man of life, but none by which we may deprive him of death; this is mere cruelty.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human

Victor Hugo
“But secondly you say 'society must exact vengeance, and society must punish'. Wrong on both counts. Vengeance comes from the individual and punishment from God.”
Victor Hugo, The Last Day of a Condemned Man

Bryan Stevenson
“The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, Do we deserve to kill?”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Albert Camus
“But what then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.”
Albert Camus

Robert A. Heinlein
“Under what circumstances is it moral for a group to do that which is not moral for a member of that group to do alone?”
Robert A Heinlein

Nancy Reagan
“I believe that more people would be alive today if there were a death penalty.”
Nancy Reagan

Clarence Darrow
“I would not tell this court that I do not hope that some time, when life and age have changed their bodies, as they do, and have changed their emotions, as they do -- that they may once more return to life. I would be the last person on earth to close the door of hope to any human being that lives, and least of all to my clients. But what have they to look forward to? Nothing. And I think here of the stanza of Housman:

Now hollow fires burn out to black,
And lights are fluttering low:
Square your shoulders, lift your pack
And leave your friends and go.
O never fear, lads, naught’s to dread,
Look not left nor right:
In all the endless road you tread
There’s nothing but the night.


...Here it Leopold’s father -- and this boy was the pride of his life. He watched him, he cared for him, he worked for him; the boy was brilliant and accomplished, he educated him, and he thought that fame and position awaited him, as it should have awaited. It is a hard thing for a father to see his life’s hopes crumble into dust.

...I know the future is with me, and what I stand for here; not merely for the lives of these two unfortunate lads, but for all boys and all girls; for all of the young, and as far as possible, for all of the old. I am pleading for life, understanding, charity, kindness, and the infinite mercy that considers all. I am pleading that we overcome cruelty with kindness and hatred with love. I know the future is on my side. Your Honor stands between the past and the future. You may hang these boys; you may hang them by the neck until they are dead. But in doing it you will turn your face toward the past... I am pleading for the future; I am pleading for a time when hatred and cruelty will not control the hearts of men. When we can learn by reason and judgment and understanding that all life is worth saving, and that mercy is the highest attribute of man.

...I am sure I do not need to tell this court, or to tell my friends that I would fight just as hard for the poor as for the rich. If I should succeed, my greatest reward and my greatest hope will be that... I have done something to help human understanding, to temper justice with mercy, to overcome hate with love.

I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar Khayyám. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:

So I be written in the Book of Love,
I do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love.

Clarence Darrow, Attorney for the Damned: Clarence Darrow in the Courtroom

Helen Prejean
“[T]here are some human rights that are so deep that we can't negotiate them away. I mean people do heinous, terrible things. But there are basic human rights I believe that every human being has. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the United Nations says it for me. And it says there are two basic rights that can't be negotiated that government doesn't give for good behavior and doesn't take away for bad behavior. And it's the right not to be tortured and not to be killed. Because the flip side of this is that then when you say OK we're gonna turn over -- they truly have done heinous things, so now we will turn over to the government now the right to take their life. It involves other people in doing essentially the same kind of act."

(PBS Frontline: Angel on Death Row)”
Sister Helen Prejean

Christopher Hitchens
“In effect, nobody who is not from the losing classes has ever been thrust into a death cell in these United States.”
Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

Ernst Jünger
“The (capital punishment) controversy passes the anarch by. For him, the linking of death and punishment is absurd. In this respect, he is closer to the wrongdoer than to the judge, for the high-ranking culprit who is condemned to death is not prepared to acknowledge his sentence as atonement; rather, he sees his guilt in his own inadequacy. Thus, he recognizes himself not as a moral but as a tragic person.”
Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“But here I should imagine the most terrible part of the whole punishment is, not the bodily pain at all—but the certain knowledge that in an hour, then in ten minutes, then in half a minute, then now—this very instant—your soul must quit your body and that you will no longer be a man—and that this is certain, certain!”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

S.A. Tawks
“I guess having one hundred and four condoms full of heroin in your guts and the thought of a firing squad in your head make will make most things seem insignificant.”
S.A. Tawks, Mule

Milan Kundera
“I also think of those daily slaughters along the highways, of that death that is as horrible as it is banal and that bears no resemblance to cancer or AIDS because, as the work not of nature but of man, it is an almost voluntary death. How can it be that such a death fails to dumbfound us, to turn our lives upside down, to incite us to vast reforms? No, it does not dumbfound us, because like Pasenow, we have a poor sense of the real, and in the sur-real sphere of symbols, this death in the guise of a handsome car actually represents life; this smiling death is con-fused with modernity, freedom, adventure, just as Elisabeth was con-fused with the Virgin. This death of a man condemned to capital punishment, though infinitely rarer, much more readily draws our attention, rouses passions: confounded with the image of the executioner, it has a symbolic voltage that is far stronger, far darker and more repellent. Et cetera.

Man is a child wandering lost—to cite Baudelaire`s poem again—in the "forests of symbols."

(The criterion of maturity: the ability to resist symbols. But mankind grows younger all the time.)”
Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel

John Grisham
“You look at the crime and you look at the criminal. If it's a dope dealer who guns down an undercover narcotics officer, then he gets the gas. If it's a drifter who rapes a three-year-old girl, drowns her by holding her little head in a mudhole, then throws her body off a bridge, then you take his life and thank god he's gone. If it's an escaped convict who breaks into a farmhouse late at night and beats and tortures an elderly couple before burning them with their house, then you strap him in a chair, hook up a few wires, pray for his soul, and pull the switch. And if it's two dopeheads who gang-rape a ten-year-old girl and kick her with pointed-toe cowboy boots until her jaws break, then you happily, merrily, thankfully, gleefully lock them in a gas chamber and listen to them squeal. It's very simple. Their crimes were barbaric. Death is too good for them, much too good.”
John Grisham, A Time to Kill

Howard Zinn
“Capital punishment could not be justified in any society calling itself civilized.”
Howard Zinn, Marx in Soho: A Play on History

Kristin Hannah
“Mr. Lundberg: "I asked you for your position on capital punishment."
Student: "Prone.”
Kristin Hannah, The Things We Do for Love

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“Not long ago I was much amused by imagining—what if the fancy suddenly took me to kill some one, a dozen people at once, or to do some thing awful, something considered the most awful crime in the world—what a predicament my judges would be in, with my having only a fortnight to live, now that corporal punishment and torture is abolished. I should die comfortably in hospital, warm aad snug, with an attentive doctor, and very likely much more snug and comfortable than at home. I wonder that the idea doesn't strike people in my position, if only as a joke.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

“Death Penalty' in rarest of rare cases, should adorn criminal justice system in India,which would operate as a detterent mechanism. Abrogation of capital punishment and it's obliteration from the law, would be a great folly. In the human rights perspective, concretising the human rights of the criminal(perpetrator of a particular offense attracting Capital punishment ) by negating Human Rights of the victim is again a murder of justice.”
Henrietta Newton Martin -Senior Legal Consultant & Author in law. (B.Com,LLB-goldmedalist, LLM-GoldM

Karl Marx
“It would be very difficult, if not altogether impossible, to establish any principle upon which the justice or expedience of capital punishment could be founded in a society glorying in its civilization.”
Karl Marx

S.A. Tawks
“Besides the pain in my gut, why shouldn't I laugh? I've almost escaped death in a foreign country.”
S.A. Tawks, Mule

Iain M. Banks
“I once visited a place where they killed people by putting them in a chair. Not torture — that was common enough; beds and chairs were very much the par when it came to getting people helpless and confined, to inflict pain upon them — but actually set it up to kill them while they sat. They — get this — they either gassed them or they passed very high electric currents through them. A pellet dropped into a container beneath the seat, like some obscene image of a commode, producing a fatal gas; or a cap over their head, and their hands dipped in some conducting fluid, to fry their brains.
You want to know the punch line? Yeah, [...] give us the punch line. This same state had a law that forbade — and I quote — “cruel and unusual punishments!” Can you believe that?”
Iain M. Banks, Use of Weapons

Brian Spellman
“If ever there was a case deserving Capital Punishment, it's for this white lie.”
Brian Spellman

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“But there is a limit, and beyond it one is no longer willing, one finds it too repulsive, to be a reasonable little rabbit. And that is the limit beyond which rabbits are enlightened by the common understanding that all rabbits are foredoomed to become only meat and pelts, and that at best, therefore, one can gain only postponement of death and not life in any case. That is when one wants to shout: "Curse you, hurry up and shoot!”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books I-II

J.D.  Crighton
“Rot! Absolute rot! Hatch was merely an alias of Holmes. He had as many as a city directory, but he used the name Hatch frequently. If Hatch did the killing, Holmes will hang for it, for Holmes and Hatch are one and the same person,' Linden said.”
J.D. Crighton, Detective in the White City: The Real Story of Frank Geyer

J.D.  Crighton
“Holmes slept like a baby his last night on earth. After a second attempt to wake him, Holmes got up and dressed. Keeper John Henry asked Holmes how he felt. “Are you nervous?” said Keeper Henry. “Not a bit,” said Holmes. He smiled and slid his arms between the prison bars and stretched out his fingers. “Look at that,” said Holmes. His hands were steady as a rock.”
J.D. Crighton, Holmes' Own Story: Confessed 27 Murders, Lied Then Died

Michelle Alexander
“Racial violence has been rationalized, legitimated, and channeled through our criminal justice system; it is expressed as police brutality, solitary confinement, and the discriminatory and arbitrary imposition of the death penalty.”
Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

R.J. Ellory
“I think he killed someone already. Capital offense an’ all that.”
Bailey tilted her head to one side. “That’s something that never made sense to me,” she said.
“What?”
“The death penalty. I mean, how does killing someone prove that killing people is wrong?”
R.J. Ellory, Bad Signs

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