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Mr. LYONS. No. That is the only chapter, Senator Hart. There are abolition groups in other States that we have been working with very closely but that is the only chapter.
We are completely autonomous and the death penalty is the only issue that we take a position on. We don't worry about any other
The experts who preceded me here yesterday cited for the subcommittee lucid and compelling arguments against the death penalty but I have come before you as a member of a different generation to speak in behalf of the major segment of our population, those under 25.
In our schools, homes, and houses of worship the young are taught that the taking of human life is wrong. Yet a glance at any newspaper tells that killing is not frowned upon in our society because killings are carried out by the State itself.
I believe that I speak for my generation in recognizing that this conflict between word and deed can only aggravate the alienation of our youth and broaden the generation gap.
I myself could never pull the switch on the gas chamber and as I could not, I consider it immoral for me to sit idly by and allow my representative, my employee, to do so for me. If the job of executioner were to rotate like that of juror, from citizen to citizen, the death penalty would soon cease to be an issue, for only a few would voluntarily pull the switch.
Ever so often we read about a particularly offensive criminal and the letters to the editor's columns lead us to believe that there would be no problem in rounding up volunteers to pull the switch for this criminal's execution, but there are few who would blindly assent to pulling the switch to execute any of the 448 lesser known men now under sentence of death in this country. Even among those who favor the death penalty, most would only consent to pull the switch if they were personally convinced that the individual condemned man were in fact guilty and that in the opinion of this would-be executioner, he did deserve the death penalty.
In this country such judgments are properly reserved for judge and jury only and not for the executioner.
The Harris poll of July 3, 1966, reported that only 38 percent of the Nation supported the death penalty. I believe that it is only the anonymity of the device such as the gas chamber activated by a nameless, invisible executioner with no blood, no sound, virtually nothing to see or hear that allows us to feel aloof when we participate in the killing of another human being.
In the belief that all citizens have both the right and the responsibility to witness the executions which they carry out, I suggest that all executions be televised. This figure of 38 percent for the death penalty would soon dwindle if executions were televised, and any dormant deterrent value which the death penalty might conceivably possess would be exploited.
Again speaking as one who is still a legal minor, I would point out to the subcommittee that four teenagers currently condemned to death are legally old enough to be executed but are not old enough to be permitted to be witnesses at an execution.
I therefore urge that reverence for human life be made a fundamental part of our national policy by the enactment of legislation, namely, your bill, Senator Hart, S. 1760 to abolish the Federal death penalty. Senator HART. Thank you very much, Mr. Lyons.
I must confess that while among other things I am just introducing the bill, I indicated disapproval of the practice of what you call legalized murder but, it did not occur to me that here, again, this generation which is yours might find in this still another reason to question the. balance of its elders.
I did not realize that this is another thing that doesn't add up to a man under 30.
Mr. LYONS. That is true, and jurors are usually over 30.
Senator HART. You hit with considerable punch when you remind us that some of those teenagers on death row are old enough only to go in to be executed, not old enough to go in to witness.
Mr. LYONS. That is correct. You must be at least 21 in most States to witness an execution but you can be executed as young as 8 years old in many States. One of the people on death row today in Ohio is 16 years old, and was 15 when he committed murder. He was judged to be legally able to stand trial for his acts, and is currently condemned to
Senator HART. Governor DiSalle and Warden Duffy both told us that in their experience the one common denominator among men who had gone to death at the hands of the State was that they were poor. Now, that kind of discrimination, if you call it that, is offensive with respect to any age category, but when you think about a fellow-how old did you say this boy is now?
Mr. LYONS. Sixteen, in Ohio.
Senator HART. Sixteen. I am sure any bookmaker would agree he wouldn't even take a bet-if you wanted to bet-that that 16-yearold boy was a son of a wealthy family or was even very smart, probably.
Mr. LYONS. As I remember the case, Senator Hart, he was convicted of the bayonet slaying of his adopted father, and the assault with the same bayonet on his adopted mother who survived the attack and testified against her adopted son at the trial. The judge broke down in tears when he had to pass the mandatory death sentence upon the 16year-old because the jury did not recommend mercy, and the prosecutor said that he never expected the jury to bring in the death penalty. The case is still on appeal.
Senator HART. I suppose there are those people who would say that by executing that boy you will deter your children from attacking you with a bayonet in the future.
Mr. LYONS. That is not the idea of deterrence, Senator Hart.
Senator HART. Also you happen to run counter to the judgment of several of the experts yesterday. You believe we should put the execution on television. I remember Mr. Bennett particularly suggesting that this would just run counter to our tradition and offended our instincts. Do you still think it would be a good idea?
Mr. LYONS. Well, most of the legislatures in this country, the 37 States that retain the death penalty, do so based on the theory that the death penalty acts as a deterrent and I thought that televising
executions would be in line and would be concurrent with the idea of deterrence, because as I understand the concept of deterrence in terms of crime prevention, the major components of a deterrent are swift, sure, and public punishment. We know that the death penalty is not swift. The average length of time spent on death row is almost 3 years in this country, between sentences and execution. It is definitely not sure. There were about 400 men on death row in 1967 and only two executions and there is only one in 1966, and that one in fact was of a man who wanted to be executed. He demanded the death penalty and asked his Governor not to spare his life. One of his lawyers tried to have his sentence reduced to life imprisonment and the condemned man tried to have the lawyer disbarred for trying to save his life, so the death penalty is neither swift nor sure.
The only hope left I thought was that it might be public, that people would know exactly the horrors of the death penalty. It took Aaron Mitchell 17 minutes to die in the gas chamber last April 12 and I thought if the horrors of death by gassing or by electrocution, hanging, or shooting could be brought into the living room, that this might act as a deterrent, whereas, reading objective acts of an execution might not have the same impact.
Senator HART. I must confess I have mixed feelings about it. As my questioning yesterday indicated, in the questioning of the warden and of Mr. Bennett, I have the feeling that you just expressed, that the public would cry "Stop" if they could see the cruelty and the barbarity of the State's action.
Mr. LYONS. I hope that would be the case, Senator.
Senator HART. Yes, one would hope it would be. But those two men against backgrounds of great experience and strong conviction said that the practice is wrong, and cautioned that we ought not to do it.
Mr. LYONS. One of the reasons I have been urging that executions be televised is to confront our society, to force our society to confront itself with the deed of execution, because not only is the executioner's hand on a switch in the gas chamber but my hand is on it just as much as his. He pulls the switch in my name for my protection and at my expense, and I think I have a right to see, more or less, what is being done with my money and for me. He is protecting me, after all.
Senator HART. I made a note of your comment as you went along, the suggestion that it is our hand that is on the switch in the form of our agent's hand. Do we really want that? And as you say, if the job was rotated, how many would pull it in fact? I wonder what kind of volunteers there would be. You said that if it was rotated you would find great protest. There would be some who would volunteer.
Mr. LYONS. There would be a few sadists who would come forward. Senator HART. It would be interesting to get them identified. Mr. LYONS. In Biblical times, I am sure you know, Senator, public stoning was the method of execution in which all members of the community took part, and it was public, but public executions have gone out of vogue even with the increase in so-called humane ways of executing people. As Warden Duffy pointed out, I don't think there is such a thing as a humane way of putting another man to death. But 17 minutes in the gas chamber is rather gruesome, I think, and I think the people have a right to see that, and the responsibility, which is more important, I believe.
Senator HART. On campus when groups are formed, there is usually controversy attached, the young Socialists, the young Democrats, the young Republicans, and there is always a counterforce that is at work. Did you run into any students who were critical of your effort to mobilize against legalized murder?
Mr. LYONS. Not a one, Senator. There are a few who are for the death penalty, demanding an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but if that Biblical statute were put into effect we would have many blind, toothless people on the streets. After all, we would have to cut off the hands of those who passed bad checks and we would have to burn down the homes of arsonists, and this cry of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is only raised in the case of murders. This is something that always puzzled me and I have yet to understand why.
Senator HART. I always thought that eye for eye, tooth for tooth was a harsh rule in a much earlier society. I was told only a few days ago that the eye-for-eye and tooth-for-tooth rule was established to reduce, to control punishment.
Mr. LYONS. It used to be two eyes for one eye or three fingers for one finger, and that was seen as a reform.
Senator HART. Yes, it was a modification, a restraint on the earlier practice of overreaching, as you say.
Mr. LYONS. Exactly.
Senator HART. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Mr. LYONS. Even if we stuck to an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth there are many crimes at the State level which involve no loss of life. The Chessman case, I suppose, is the best known example. People still think Chessman killed somebody. He was not convicted of murder. The case of murder never entered the case. There are many crimes which carry the death penalty. For example, in one State the desecration of a grave carries the death penalty. There is obviously no question of taking another life in a case like that, but the death penalty is carried.
Senator HART. What State has that law?
Mr. LYONS. Georgia. Armed robbery carries the death penalty in many States. More people have been executed in this country for armed robbery than for kidnaping, which is something I just found in the "National Prisoner Statistics" a few weeks ago. I had never heard of an execution for armed robbery, even when the question of murder is not involved, where no one is killed, but armed robbery carries the death penalty in a number of States.
Senator HART. I have a large family, and I really have never despaired of your generation.
Mr. LYONS. Nor I of yours.
Senator HART. But I hope very much that you are on television in a great many living rooms tonight, and I do not want to embarrass either parents or child, but you are what parents talk about when they say they hope they will have someone whom they can very proud of. Your parents certainly are.
Mr. LYONS. Thank you.
Senator HART. They take great pride in your sensitive conscience. I know you are not alone on the Berkeley campus.
Mr. LYONS. Thank you, Senator.
Next a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and also a member of the board of community action program in Columbus, Ohio, and the president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Association of Columbus, the Reverend P. D. Hale.
Reverend, we welcome you this morning.
STATEMENT OF REV. PHALE D. HALE, MEMBER, OHIO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, BOARD OF COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAM, COLUMBUS, PRESIDENT, INTERDENOMINATIONAL MINISTERIAL ASSOCIATION, COLUMBUS
Reverend HALE. Mr. Chairman and members of the Judiciary Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to give this testimony before you concerning bill S. 1760.
As you know, Christian philosophy certainly states that where there is life there is hope. If it says anything at all to us it says that there is reverence for life regardless of one's differences in other forms of theology. We have learned that persons can change and our religion teaches us that people do, in fact, change and the practice of capital punishment demonstrates a denial of this theology.
Saint Augustine in opposition to capital punishment states:
We do not wish to have the sufferings of the servants of God avenged by the affliction of precisely similar injuries in the way of retaliation, not of course that we object to removal from these wicked men the liberty to perpetuate further crime, but our desire is rather that justice be satisfied without the taking of their lives or the maiming of their bodies in any particular, and that by such coercive measures as may be in accordance with the law they be drawn away from their insane fringes to the quietness of men in their sound judgment, or compelled to give up mischievous violence, and partake themselves to some useful labor.
Senator HART. That was Augustine, did you say?
Reverend HALE. Yes.
Many Protestant churches have taken an official stand against capital punishment. The religious argument against the death penalty generally centers around the belief that even sinful men are the objects of God's redemptive love, and that vengeance belongs to God, not man. In the words of Bishop John Wesley Lord of Washington, D.C., at a conference of the Methodist Church:
A Christian view of punishment must look beyond correction to redemption. It is our Christian faith that redemption by the grace of God is open to every repentant sinner, and that it is the duty of every Christian to bring to others by every available means the challenge and opportunity of a new and better life. We believe that under these circumstances only God has the right to terminate life.
Similarly, the following resolution was adopted in 1958 by the general convention of the Episcopal Church:
Inasmuch as the individual life of infinite worth in the sight of Almighty God, and whereas the taking of human life falls within the province of Almighty God, and not within the right of man, therefore be it resolved that the General Convention go on record as opposed to capital punishment.
In the Old Testament when Cain killed Abel, Cain was not put to death.
When the State takes a life it cheapens life, and I think, therefore, must justify its action. When the State attempts to justify its actions it