Death Penalty Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old death penalty quotes, death penalty sayings, and death penalty proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.

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
Death row is a nightmare to serial killers and ax murderers. For an innocent man, it's a life of mental torture that the human spirit is not equipped to survive. John Grisham
Death penalty is the number one killer of killers. Mokokoma Mokhonoana
The death penalty is discriminatory and does not do anything about crime. Bobby Scott
More prisons, more enforcement, effective death penalty. Jerry Weller
First of all, it does not deter crime, the death penalty. Patricia Cornwell
I support the death penalty because I believe, if administered swiftly and justly, capital punishment is a deterrent against future violence and will save other innocent lives. George Walker Bush
I think people would be alive today if there were a death penalty. Nancy Davis Reagan
For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists. Albert Camus
I don't think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I don't think that's right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people's lives. George W. Bush
Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. J.R.R. Tolkien
Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders. Albert Camus
To take a life when a life has been lost is revenge, not justice. Desmond Tutu
As if one crime of such nature, done by a single man, acting individually, can be expiated by a similar crime done by all men, acting collectively. Lewis Lawes
If we believe that murder is wrong and not admissible in our society, then it has to be wrong for everyone, not just individuals but governments as well. Helen Prejean
The reality is that capital punishment in America is a lottery. It is a punishment that is shaped by the constraints of poverty, race, geography and local politics. Bryan Stevenson
It should be clear that the death penalty does just the opposite of promoting decency and respect for life. It dehumanizes people and promotes murder. It can never be applied fairly. John Morrison
Can the state, which represents the whole of society and has the duty of protecting society, fulfill that duty by lowering itself to the level of the murderer, and treating him as he treated others? The forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process. Kofi Annan
I have reached the conviction that the abolition of the death penalty is desirable. Reasons: 1) Irreparability in the event of an error of justice, 2) Detrimental moral influence of the execution procedure on those who, whether directly or indirectly, have to do with the procedure. Albert Einstein
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Mohandas Gandhi
There has never been any evidence that the death penalty reduces capital crimes or that crimes increased when executions stopped. Tragic mistakes are prevalent...It is clear that there are overwhelming ethical, financial, and religious reasons to abolish the death penalty. Former President Jimmy Carter
I now understand that the death penalty is an ineffective, cruel and simplistic response to the complex problem of violent crime. Our limited resources could be better spent on programs that focus on stopping violence before it starts, such as preventing child abuse and drug addiction-programs that will prevent another child from becoming the next [murderer]. Darryl Stallworth
If we could do away with death, we wouldn't object; to do away with capital punishment will be more difficult. Were that to happen, we would reinstate it from time to time. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Many of us do not believe in capital punishment, because thus society takes from a man what society cannot give. Katharine Fullerton Gerould
Capital punishment is our society's recognition of the sanctity of human life. Orrin Hatch
The death penalty is a poor person's issue. Always remember that: after all the rhetoric that goes on in the legislative assemblies, in the end, when the deck is cast out, it is the poor who are selected to die in this country. Sister Helen Prejean
Capital punishment is as fundamentally wrong as a cure for crime as charity is wrong as a cure for poverty. Henry Ford
Capital punishment would be more effective as a preventive measure if it were administered prior to the crime. Woody Allen
Despite the courts efforts to fashion a death penalty scheme that is just, fair and reliable, the system is not working. Innocent people are being sentenced to death......It is no answer to say that we are doing the best that we can. If this is the best our state can do, we have no business sending people to their deaths. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Moses Harrison II
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. Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold
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
There is a certain right by which we may deprive a man of life, but none by which we may deprive him of death; this is mere cruelty. Friedrich Nietzsche
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 State is not God. It has no right to take away that which it cannot give back, if it should so desire. Anton Chekhov
In any case, frequent punishments are a sign of weakness or slackness in the government. There is no man so bad that he cannot be made good for something. No man should be put to death, even as an example, if he can be left to live without danger to society. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Since I was a law student, I have been against the death penalty. It does not deter. It is severely discriminatory against minorities, especially since they’re given no competent legal counsel defense in many cases. It’s a system that has to be perfect. You cannot execute one innocent person. No system is perfect. And to top it off, for those of you who are interested in the economics it, it costs more to pursue a capital case toward execution than it does to have full life imprisonment without parole. Ralph Nader
Death row what a brother know / So quick to execute before they give a new trial / That's capital punishment American style / They've done it once they'll do it again / They'll execute an innocent man. Tree
I can recall the punishment of detention. I can make reparation to the man upon whom I inflict corporal punishment. But once a man is killed, the punishment is beyond recall or reparation. God alone can take life, because He alone gives it. Mahatma Gandhi
A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I …appeal…for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary. Pope John Paul II
I do not think that God approves the death penalty for any crime, rape and murder included. Capital punishment is against the better judgment of modern criminology, and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God. Martin Luther King Jr.
I certainly feel no hatred, nor is my position on capital punishment motivated by some 'eye for an eye' concept. It is true I believe we must retain capital punishment, and I believe there is backing for this is in the Scriptures. However, this must be thought of in the light of a preventive to murder. Ronald Reagan
It is fairly obvious that those who are in favour of the death penalty have more affinity with assassins than those who are not. Remy de Gourmont
If we are to abolish the death penalty, let the murderers take the first step. Alphonse Karr
As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder and assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the taking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by legalized murder. Coretta Scott King
The people doin' the thinkin' and the people doin' the murderin' are two separate sets of people. Sister Helen Prejean
What right does any church have even attempting to approve of lifestyles or certain acts for which God prescribed the death penalty in the Old Testament? Billy Graham
Capital punishment strikes directly at democracy and due process. It can't be coincidence that it is used most frequently in countries that consider the citizen to be the property of the state. Christopher Hitchens
My case against capital punishment is simply this: The state does not have the right to decide life and death questions. Christopher Hitchens
The death sentence is a deterrent, and society has a right in its own defense to take the life of those who, with premeditation and planning, commit murder. I don't like to use the term 'capital punishment,' because in my opinion we should emphasize the self defense idea and not think of the penalty for murder as punishment alone. Ronald Reagan
Murder is not the cure for murder—lying and stealing will not cure lying and stealing. The old doctrine was; "An eye for an eye—a tooth for a tooth'—but that was the doctrine of a by-gone age and generation, and not of this one of light, intelligence and reason. Frederick Douglass
Are there any unpleasant implications of what you believe that you are unwilling or unable to face up to? If you support capital punishment, do you fully realize that it results in the death of a human being, sometimes the wrong one? Julian Baggini
Folks read about the electric chair, they hear about it—but those folks with criminal minds don't care about the law. But if they see that chair moving down the highway, it may save a life. Georgia State Senator Ronnie Walker
I support capital punishment. Where would Christianity be if Jesus got eight to ten years with time off for good behavior. James Donovan
If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks, instead of crosses. Lenny Bruce
The compensation for a death sentence is knowledge of the exact hour when one is to die. A great luxury, but one that is well earned. Vladimir Nabokov
The cure for crime is not the electric chair, but the high chair. J. Edgar Hoover
Isn't all mankind ultimately executed for a crime it never committed? Woody Allen
If the Old Testament were a reliable guide in the matter of capital punishment, half the people in the United States would have to be killed tomorrow. Steve Allen
And you know, in this country now, there are a lot of people who want to expand the death penalty to include drug dealers. This is really stupid. Drug dealers aren't afraid to die. They're already killing each other every day on the streets by the hundreds; drive-bys, gang shootings. They're not afraid to die. Death penalty doesn't mean anything unless you use it on people who are afraid to die. Like... the bankers who launder the drug money. George Carlin
The death penalty gives the feeling of control demanded by society. People are frustrated by the uncertainty of the system. They want to know for sure that Charles Manson won't ever be walking the streets again. Jack McCoy
Of course we can find cases of heinous situations, people perhaps who deserve to die. I've just never met anybody who deserved to kill. Pete Buttigieg
With every cell of my being and with every fiber of my memory I oppose the death penalty in all forms. I do not believe any civilized society should be at the service of death. I don't think it's human to become an agent of the angel of death. Elie Wiesel
I believe [...] that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. Neil Gaiman
The pivotal question instead is whether a system of justice can be constructed that reaches only the rare, right cases, without also occasionally condemning the innocent or the undeserving. Scott Turow
Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme means of safeguarding the common good. Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption. Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide. Section 2267 of the Cathecism of the Catholic Church