Capital Punishment Quotes

Quotes tagged as "capital-punishment" Showing 1-30 of 62
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

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

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: A Book for Free Spirits

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

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

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

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

Anton Chekhov
“The State is not God. It has no right to take away that which it cannot give back, if it should so desire.”
Anton Chekhov, The Bet

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

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

Bryan Stevenson
“My relatives worked hard all the time but never seemed to prosper. My grandfather was murdered when I was a teenager, but it didn't seem to matter much to the world outside our family.”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Bryan Stevenson
“Being close to suffering, death, executions, and cruel punishments didn't just illuminate the brokenness of others; in a moment of anguish and heartbreak, it also exposed my own brokenness. You can't effectively fight abusive power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression, or injustice and not be broken by it.”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

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

“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

Ben Aaronovitch
“If they were ugly, Peter, would you care half so much?" asked Nightingale. "There are some hideous things out there that can talk and reason, and I wonder if you would be quite so quick to rush to their defence."
"Maybe not," I said. "But that just makes me shallow, it doesn't make me wrong.”
Ben Aaronovitch, Moon Over Soho

Kenneth Eade
“Dying is not a punishment, except for the manner of how the execution may be carried out. The extinguishment of life itself is not torment. That is why capital punishment is not a punishment at all and does not deter crime.”
Kenneth Eade, An Evil Trade

Michael Bassey Johnson
“Like water, life is precious, but most people, through their lack of empathy, prefer to waste it.”
Michael Bassey Johnson, Song of a Nature Lover

Bryan Stevenson
“We’ve given up on rehabilitation, education, and services for the imprisoned because providing assistance to the incarcerated is apparently too kind and compassionate. We've institutionalized policies that reduce people to their worst acts and permanently label them "criminal," "murderer," "rapist," "thief," "drug dealer," "sex offender," "felon," - identities they cannot change regardless of the circumstances of their crimes or any improvements they might make in their lives.”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Bryan Stevenson
“It's been so strange, Bryan. More people have asked me what they can do to help in the last fourteen hours of my life than ever asked me in the years I was coming up.”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Bryan Stevenson
“I feel like they done put me on death row, too What do we tell these children about how to stay out of harms way when you can be at your own house, minding your own business, surrounded by your entire family, and they still put some murder on you that you ain't do and send you to death row?”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

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

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

Jean Baudrillard
“Against the advice of doctors, the governor refuses to allow an incurably ill man to be put out of his misery. This is the other face of capital punishment. One day we shall have to fight for the abolition of the life penalty, as we did in the past for the abolition of the death penalty.

Shadows have always preceded us, and they will outlive us. We were dead before we were alive, and we shall be again.”
Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories V: 2000 - 2004

Bryan Stevenson
“When I first went to death row in December 1983, America was in the early stages of a radical transformation that would turn us into an unprecedentedly harsh and punitive nation and result in mass imprisonment that has no historical parallel. Today we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. The prison population has increased from 300,000 people in the early 1970s to 2.3 million people today. There are nearly six million people on probation or on parole. One in every fifteen people born in the United States in 2001 is expected to go to jail or prison; one in every three black male babies born in this century is expected to be incarcerated.”
Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Stewart Stafford
“The Damned Axe by Stewart Stafford

The axe decapitates a head,
Society's ills get quickly shed,
Can we trust what we don't see?
The masked executioner's decree.

A death by hacks couldn't be worse,
Carnifex of the jingling cutpurse,
Blood is spilt to slake the thirst,
In the name of God, the law comes first.

A pantomime of barbarity,
To lose one's head so publicly,
And then be held up mockingly,
The crowd disperses hastily.

© Stewart Stafford, 2023. All rights reserved.”
Stewart Stafford

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