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Argument: The death penalty is barbaric and uncharacteristic of a decent society

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Supporting quotations

Rudolph J. Gerber, Judge of the Arizona State Court of Appeals. - To support the death penalty as sound social policy strikes me as grossly misguided. Not only does the death penalty not deter murder, it fosters a culture of brutality, risks international condemnation, and transforms our country into a brutal pariah.[1]

Abner Mikva, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. (2002) - The more that variations on the theme are scrutinized, the more obvious it is that the real reason for executing people is the oldest of reasons: revenge, anger at the felon, the somewhat flawed interpretation of the biblical "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth." But if that is the real reason for remaining outside the fold of all Western nations who have reformed away the death penalty, then why don't we acknowledge this thorn in our legal system by its appropriate name? We should admit that we engage in legalized murder.[2]

Leah J. Sears, Georgia Supreme Court Justice (2001) - Electrocution offends the evolving standards of decency that characterize a mature, civilized society.[3]

John Paul Stevens, U.S. Supreme Court Justice - The practice of executing such offenders is a relic of the past and is inconsistent with evolving standards of decency in a civilized society. We should put an end to this shameful practice.[4]

Victor Hugo. National Constituant Assembly of the French Republic. 15 September 1848. - Death penalty is the special and eternal sign of barbarism. Where death penalty is applied, barbarism dominates; where death penalty is rare, civilisation reigns.[5]

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, from his book "Crime in America", New York Times, 7/3/1968. - Capital punishment is the element from which war, genocide, holocaust multiply. If we cannot end the death penalty, the superior capacity for violence will continue its reign over reason, freedom, and love ... Worldwide acceptance of the commandment "government shalt not kill", will be a major milestone in the long road from barbarism.[6]

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General. "Crime in America". 1970. - Our motions may cry for vengeance in the wake of a horrible crime, but we know that killing the criminal will not undo the crime, will not prevent similar crimes by others, does not benefit the victim, destroys human life and brutalizes society. If we are to still violence, we must cherish life. Executions cheapen life.[7]

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General. "Crime in America". 1970 - A humane and generous concern for every individual, his health and his fulfillment, will do more to soothe the savage heart than the fear of state-inflicted death, which chiefly serves to remind us how close we remain to the jungle.[8]

Mahavira, founder of Jainism. - Unless we live with nonviolence and reverence for all living beings in our hearts, all our humaneness and acts of goodness, all our vows, virtues, and knowledge, all our practices to give up greed and acquisitiveness are meaningless ... Indeed, the paid of others is our own, for the consequences of neglect and apathy cannot be long in coming our way.[9]

Russ Feingold, U.S. Senator, Wisconsin - It’s just really tragic after all the horrors of the last 1,000 years we can’t leave behind something as primitive as government sponsored execution.[10]

Robert Kennedy. - Whenever any American life is taken by another unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in defiance of the law ... in an attack of violence or in response to violence - the whole nation is degraded.[11]

Christian Kruger, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe. - The Council of Europe considers that there is no rationale behind, nor any justification for, the death penalty. It simply has no place in a society with a civilised penal system.[12]

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