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Let me ask our first witness, then, the former Governor of Ohio, a student in this field, and now the chairman of the National Committee To Abolish the Federal Death Penalty, Mike DiSalle, to come forward. Governor, before you start, let me offer for the record the bill, S. 1760, and an editorial that appeared in this morning's Washington Post. It is brief but very much to the point. It concludes that "Congress ought to put the Federal Government in the vanguard of the reform so that it can help in leading the way to a heightened respect for the sanctity of human life." It begins by citing the passages from our witness' book, "The Power of Life and Death." It seems so appropriate that we will put it in the record right now.
(The bill S. 1760 and the editorial referred to follow :)
90TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
MAY 11 (legislative day, May 10), 1967
Mr. HART (for himself, Mr. BURDICK, Mr. HATFIELD, Mr. INOUYE, Mr. JAVITS, Mr. LONG of Missouri, Mr. MCCARTHY, Mr. MONDALE, Mr. MORSE, Mr. NELSON, Mr. PROXMIRE, Mr. WILLIAMS of New Jersey, and Mr. Young of Ohio) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To abolish the death penalty under all laws of the United States, and for other purposes.
1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 3 That (a) no sentence of death shall be imposed hereafter 4 upon any person convicted of any criminal offense punishable 5 under any provision of law of the United States, the District 6 of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any terri7 tory or possession of the United States, and no unexecuted 8 sentence of death heretofore imposed under any such provi9 sion shall be carried into execution after the date of enact
ment of this Act. Each such provision which authorizes or 2 requires the imposition of such sentence hereafter shall be 3 deemed to authorize or require the imposition of a sentence 4 to imprisonment for life, and each sentence of death hereto5 fore imposed under any such provision which remains unex6 ecuted on the date of enactment of this Act shall be deemed 7 to be a sentence to imprisonment for life.
(b) The Attorney General is authorized and directed 9 to transmit to the Congress at the earliest practicable time 10 his recommendations for appropriate amendments to be made 11 to all such provisions of law which by their terms provide 12 for or relate to the imposition of any sentence of death in 13 order to substitute for such sentence in all such laws a sen14 tence to imprisonment for life.
IN COLD BLOOD
Every official extinction of a human life is, as Michael V. DiSalle has put it, "a killing in cold blood." As such, it transgresses the canons of civilization. It sets an example in which the community does officially precisely what it forbids its constituent citizens to do. Mr. DiSalle, a former Governor of Ohio and now Chairman of the National Committee to Abolish the Federal Death Penalty, will lead a distinguished succession of witnesses today before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee considering an anti-death-penalty proposal.
Most of the instances of capital punishment in the United States are imposed by state courts and carried into effect in state prisons. A number of states have now abandoned this barbarous form of retribution. It is shocking that it is still countenanced in the courts of the United States. Congress ought to put the Federal Government in the vanguard of reform so that it can help in leading the way to a heightened respect for the sanctity of human life.-Washington Post, March 20, 1968.
STATEMENT OF HON. MICHAEL V. DiSALLE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF OHIO, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO ABOLISH THE FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY
Mr. DISALLE. Thank you, Senator.
Senator Hart and distinguished members of the subcommittee: I thought in passing, Senator, you would be interested in an experience I had some time ago. Our mutual friend, the former Governor of Michigan, Soapy Williams, had written to me about a matter, and then asked me what I was doing. I wrote back to him and told him that I just recently had completed a book on capital punishment, and one called "Second Choice," on the vice presidency, and Soapy wrote back and asked was it a coincidence or did I really have Hubert Humphrey in mind, when I joined the two subjects.
Senator HART. In view of the confused scene at the moment I will reserve comment.
Mr. DISALLE. Senator McClellan this morning in opening this session pointed out the rise in the crime rate, and we might say that this rising crime rate has occurred in spite of the fact that 37 States of the United States still have the death penalty, and the Federal Government also has the death penalty, and so I would think that the rising crime rate in face of this type of punishment points to the need for some change in our criminal system and in our approach to crime generally.
Much has been written and said on the subject of the legislation which is before the subcommittee this morning. During the hearings today and tomorrow, the subcommittee will hear many distinguished witnesses with broad experiences in the fields of criminology, sociology, and correction. Some of the witnesses that you will hear are considered worldwide experts in their respective professions.
You will be given a very strong diet of statistical material. Consequently, as chairman of the National Committee To Abolish the Federal Death Penalty, my testimony will attempt to briefly cover the history of capital punishment worldwide, the evolution of capital punishment, and some of my personal experiences in what I feel is a most futile and barbaric exercise in the name of law and order.
My interest in the field had been largely academic, beginning with a debate as a college freshman. Later, as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, I became emotionally aroused at the kidnaping
and subsequent death of the Matson boy in the Northwest section of the country. The next day, I introduced and successfully followed to enactment a Baby Lindbergh Act for the State of Ohio which made kidnaping a capital offense punishable by death.
In years since, maturity has produced a deeper feeling of the obligations of society in establishing a civilization which takes into consideration the element of example that a people must set. If we are to command respect for constituted law and order, must we not also set an example of restraint, of sound judgment, of a few based on the recognition of the weakness in our emotional and intellectual makeup, rather than base our conduct on revenge and a reversion to certain pagan motivations of conduct?
Each time in Ohio as I faced the necessity of making a decision as to whether a human being should live or be executed by his fellow citizens, I thought of the ritual that we engaged in, in disposing of a human life. It made me wonder why we did not use the tom-toms and the wild, abandoned tribal dances which were so necessary to create the emotional pitch before pagans indulged in the lust for the taking of life.
The October 1958 issue of the "Prison Journal," published by the Pennsylvania Prison Society (a member of the United Fund of Philadelphia), in its lead editorial summarized its conclusions in opposition to capital punishment as follows:
Pennsylvania has long debated abolition. Surely the time has come to put an end to that which is―
designed to mete out justice in punishment, yet falls upon only one person for every hundred criminal homicides;
retained to deter, yet is shrouded in secrecy so that the would-be murderer has no impression of the meaning:
justified as protection to society, yet those without it are none the worse
claimed to protect and teach respect for human life while making an examples of taking a life.
Some advocates of capital punishment are of the impression that the fear of death is a greater deterrent to crime than other forms of punishment. Man, throughout history and in different parts of the world, has attempted to deter people from many types of crime even some that we might now classify as petty-by various types of horrible death.
We find the Japanese at one time resorting to a death which involved 21 cuts of the human body. The Peruvians sliced people until they had expired; the Chinese employed boiling people alive.
As late as 1777, we find people being pressed to death in England, as was the custom during the witchcraft trials in Salem in 1692. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans employed the guillotine; the Spanish had the garrotte; others used burning at the stake and breaking the body on a wheel. Crucifixion, the burying of people alive, and stoning were early forms of killing.
Now we are much more civilized-we use hanging, and there is a debate as to whether an execution by gas is not more humane than using the electric chair. In Utah we give the condemned an option. He can choose either to be shot or hung.
The world has moved steadily forward from the most gruesome of these exercises, and 73 nations have abolished the death penalty.