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Capital Punishment Debate A Dramatic Hearin –Death Is So Final’ \(Continued From Page prison,” Reid replied. McGregor pointed out that it costs the state’s taxpayers more to take care of a prisoner “than it does to get a room in a hotel with three meals a dayit costs about $12 per man per day.” ‘Not a Fair Shake Fred Schmidt, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, said he appeared with a “mandate” from delegates to the 1959 and 1960 state labor conventions, who had gone on record against capital punishment. The death penalty should be opposed “not only on moral, spiritual, philosophical, and ethical grounds,” he said, but also “because it’s not a fair shake there is a difference between our standards and our norms of justice. “When we see the arithmetic weighed so heavily against those with a small ability to pay” for capable legal counsel, “with _inadequate education, with the wort -A possible cultural backgrounds, it’s logical reasoning to question the norms that prevail,” he said. Warden Laves of Sing Sing, Schmidt said, wrote “that he had walked the last mile with hundreds of condemned men and that he never walked it with a rich man.” If the legislature passes this bill, Schmidt argued, it will contribute “to the progress of the whole course of human history.” Rep. Tom Andrews of Aransas Pass said: “You argue there’s a direct ratio between the ability to pay and the death sentence. As a lawyer, I know this state goes to great lengths” to provide lawyers for indigent defendants. Schmidt said he believed in all cases there was “a direct ratio between the ability to pay and the quality of counsel in our courthouses.” Then fellowed a lengthy exchange between McGregor and the witness. McGregor asked if it wasn’t true “that the crime rate for capital crimes is largest among lower income groups?” Schmidt said he was willing to believe Dugger Joins Maverick AUSTIN Observer contributing editor Ronnie Dugger took a leave of absence beginning last Tuesday to accompany Senate candidate Maury Maverick, Jr., as a press aide. The Senate race has five weeks to go, plus another four if there is a runoff. Dugger said the matter of his joining Maverick’s campaign came up first last Sunday, and he decided to do it Monday. He will continue to do pieces for the Observer during his leave, but not, of course, on the Senate race. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 8 March 4, 1961 Now Available The Inaugural Edition of Profiles in Courage, the Pulitzer Prize winning book by the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. Harper .$3.95 The Strategy of Peace by John F. Kennedy. Foreign policy speeches and statements on defense, peace, national security and related domestic issues as edited. by Allan Nevins. Hardcover ..$3.95 Harper Paper $ .95 Harper Send your order for ANY book to DEPT. B, Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas. this was true for armed robbery. “For one thing,” he said, “there are more people in the lower in-. come bracket.” But he said he was sure this would not be true “in cases of crimes of passion 7-like murder.” “Isn’t it true the people in lower economic brackets are usually the unemployed and have more time for crimes of passion?” McGregor asked. Schmidt said the same statement could be made “about people who are retired or so rich they don’t have to work for a living.” McGregor said that a trial, a unanimous verdict, appeals and the entire judicial process are involved. “By the time you cross all these hurdles, it’s not easy to get the death penalty.” Schmidt argued that “it still happens” and said the provision for “swiftness and sureness of being caught and punished” would be a reliable substitute. Harold Kilpatrick, executive director of the Texas Council of Churches, listed the religious groups which had gone on record against the death penalty: the Texas Council of Churches, the American Baptist Convention, the International Convention of Christian Churches, the Episcopal Church of the United States, the Quakers, “all branches” of the Jewish faith, the Presbyterian Church of the United States, and “most of the Methodist conferences in Texas. “The race of man has become more civilized,” Kilpatrick said. “We dropped infanticide, banishment, human slavery. We’ve dropped brutal practices. That’s why capital punishment is on the way out.” McGregor argued that man has not become more civilized. He mentioned “psychological warfare, communist prison camps, brainwashing so strong that no person could withstand it and bird colonels turned traitor,” and Japanese and German atrocities. McGregor added: “You mentioned quite a few churches, but not the Southern Baptist convention.” Kilpatrick said the Southern Baptist Convention has a commission studying the problem. McGregor replied that “some of us Southern Baptists don’t have much business with that Convention.” Ray Worley, the next witness to argue for the bill, drew laughter when he identified himself as working for the Southern Baptist Convention. He added, however, that he was testifying “only as a person.” Worley said he spent two years at Princeton Theological Seminary doing research on capital punishment. Silber Testifies Then came Dr. John Silber, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas and president of the Texas Society to Abolish Capital Punishment, who presented a one-hour statement on the history and statistics of the death penalty. “I come equipped with the findings of the Royal Commission, the support of 90 percent of all prison wardens, as well as virtually every criminologist in the world, most psychiatrists and psychologists, moral philosophers, and theologians. “We’re not emotional sobsisters,” the facts simply do not support the necessity of the death penalty, he said. Nine states have abolished capital punishment and only sixteen states actually resorted to execution in 1959, he said. Twenty states have not used the death penalty in more than ten years. It has been abolished in most of Europe and South America. Presenting detailed statistics on the occurence of murder in the states which have abolished capital punishment in comparison with those who have not, Silber said “some remarkable facts stand outfirst, the homicide rate in abolition states is consistently less than half as large as in death penalty states, and second,. the average number of executions per year in the ‘last four years has decreased to less than one third of the average in the 1930’s, although the population has increased by 40 million. “If the death penalty were a necessary deterrent,” he testified, “we should expect murders to increase as the number of executions decrease, and we should expect the homicide rate to be higher in the states having abolished capital punishment than in the states having retained’ it. But precisely the opposite has happened.” “Studies have shown that the poor, the ignorant, the mentally subnormal, and the mentally ill provide the human material for the executioner,” Silber said. A large number of innocent people have also been executed, he said. Anti-Abolition Truman Roberts, representing the District and County Attorneys Association, said: “I’ve heard the word ‘justice’ mentioned quite a bit tonight. I remember what an old judge once told me. He said ‘justice is each man’s abstract idea of how the world should be, but law is justice refined and made certain’.” He said he believed capital punishment does deter crime. When armed robbery was made a capital offense in Texas in the 1930’s, “there was a sudden decrease of robberies in the state.” There has been an increase lately, he said, adding: “People grow complacent and juries don’t give the sentence.” “Certain people aren’t fit to live in society,” he argued. “I’ve heard a lot tonight about what psychologists and psychiatrists have said, and I’ve heard a lot about being moral, but I haven’t heard the word ‘amoral’ used. The good doctor can probably tell you what ‘amoral’ people are: those are people that just don’t have any morals.” Roberts said he had talked with a district judge who served 27 years on the bench. “He retired this year, and he told me over the years he’d changed his mind. After 27 years he’d encountered people for whom the death sentence was the only proper sentence. “We’ve enacted around ourselves a fence of law.” This bill “would put a little hole in that fence,” he said. A mandatory lifesentece for violent tcriminals would not work; governors and parole boards might commute or lessen prison terms at any time. Questioned by Rep. Cole on the source of his statement that the death penalty on armed robbery established in the ’30’s caused a decrease in that crime, Roberts said he did not have the statistics, but he had talked to veteran police officers. “And you believe capital punishment is a deterrent to crime?” Cole asked. “I do, I certainly do,” Roberts replied. “Have you done any research on the question’!” No, Roberts answered, “but I’ve talked to people who’ve told me that very thing.” Rep. Stanford Smith asked Roberts if he preferred exclusion by killing or by permanent removal. Roberts replied it would be difficult to assure permanent removal. “It’s also a much more expensive proposition for the state,” he said. Chairman Eckhardt, pointing out that four men were executed last year, inquired, “Should this little savings of expense be weighed against the entire moral case?” Roberts replied that “it might not be,” but argued that such prisoners, with no hope of release, might create “a hard core of inmates in the prisons and cause a hard problem.” Rep. Pipkin asked Roberts if the testimony of prison wardens on the undesirability of the death penalty was not persuasive. “It’s quite a difference in being war’ den of a prison and engaged in actual law enforcement,” the witness replied. “Wardens would tend to view such men with more cornpassion.” Dr. John Silber The executive secretary of the Texas Sheriffs Association, Lewis Berry, said, “I don’t think the good doctor’s figures are meaningful.” To get an accurate figure, “you’d have to examine each crime closely. If the gates of hell lay in front of an insane man, that wouldn’t deter him from killing. It’s those cool, calculated premeditated crimes” that present the major problem. Berry quilted from a statement made by J. Edgar Hoover defending capital punishment: ” ‘It is my belief that that a great many of the most vociferous cries for abolition of capital punishment emanate from those areas of our society which have been insulated against the horrors man can and does perpetrate against his fellow beings . . . When no shadow of a doubt remains relative to guilt, the public interest demands capital punishment be invoked where the law so provides.’ ” Sam Roberts, assistant district attorney in Houston, argued that “for everything the abolitionists say, the same thing could be said on the other side. “Some criminals can’t be reformed,” he said. The belief that some men can be rehabilitated into society is “a naive opinion,” he said. In reference to permanent removal from society, Roberts asked if there is “any real distinction in allowing a man to die slowly, day by day, in a prison cell, and in executing him six months after the crime has been committed? The case could be made that a man without hope is dead. “If this bill passes, within five or ten years similar legislation to what we have today will be reenacted after a great wave of violence,” he predicted. Roberts then described in some detail the murders committed by prisoners whose executions are now pending in Texas. If abolition carries, he warned, “these men would escape their proper penalty.” During questioning, Eckhardt referred to an earlier statement and asked, “Are you absolutely sure of the infallibility of your office, of the judge and jury system, and of the appeal process, beyond the shadow of any doubt?” “I *am, sir,” Roberts replied. “And this system could not possibly make mistakes’!” “I wouldn’t say not possibly make mistakes,” Roberts said. Eckhardt mentioned the Oklahoma “trade-out” and asked, “I wonder if it would’ve disturbed you if that innocent man had been executed?” “I’d be satisfied after the 12 members of the jury had passed on his guilt,” Roberts said. “Even if another man confesses to the crime?” “I’ll bet if you talked to this man, if you got right down in his heart, he couldn’t tell you whether he did the murder or not,” the witness responded. “But wouldn’t it have disturbed you if this man had gotten death?” Eckhardt asked. “There are so few crimes where the death sentence is given,” Roberts said, the margin ‘of error is practically non-existent. Retribution The hearing was already into the morning hours and the crowd had thinned out to a dozen or so spectators when Rev. Robert Ingrain of Houston’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church rose to testify against. the bill. “At stake here,” he said, is the questioning of a system of justice used throughout Christianity and Western civilization for centuries. “The lack of perfection in a system isn’t per se to condemn it,” Ingram argued. “Who can say so glibly that justice constantly miscarries in Texas?” “Lex taliones is still the concept of justice for Christians,” he said, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Retaliation I don’t know if that’s the right wordretribution is an end in itself. “I know no other way of retaining our system of justice than through the infliction of punishment,” he said. “To abolish the chief punishment or to remove the authority to administer the chief punishment is to take away the power of all punishment, because it is the power to administer the chief punishment from which all other punishments derive.” . Concluding, Ingram quoted St. Paul: the state is ” ‘the minister of God for wrath.’ ” Questioned by Rep. Mauro Rojas, who said men are fallible