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Capital  Punishment  Quotes

Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in his own image.
Gen 9:6 WEB[1]

You shall not murder.
Exod 20:13 (The Fifth Commandment) WEB[1]

If a man schemes and comes presumptuously on his neighbor to kill him, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
Exod 21:14 WEB[1]

Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good.
Saint Thomas Aquinas[2]

As stated above, it is lawful to kill an evildoer in so far as it is directed to the welfare of the whole community, so that it belongs to him alone who has charge of the community's welfare. Thus it belongs to a physician to cut off a decayed limb, when he has been entrusted with the care of the health of the whole body. Now the care of the common good is entrusted to persons of rank having public authority: wherefore they alone, and not private individuals, can lawfully put evildoers to death.
Saint Thomas Aquinas[3]

We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless.
1Tm 1:9 HCSB[4]

Laws are made for the sake of the wise, not to prevent them from inflicting wrong but to secure them from suffering it.

We need a long-breathed struggle against permanent and prolific evils; not, indeed, to quell them, but merely to prevent their overpowering us.

That reason for punishment exists when the dignity and the prestige of the one who is sinned against must be maintained, lest the omission of punishment bring him into contempt and diminish the esteem in which he is held.
Aulus Gellius[7]

Justice is the constant and perpetual will to render to every man his due.

Every man, in the state of nature, has a power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation can compensate, by the example of the punishment that attends it from every body, and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal.
John Locke[9]

But whoever has committed Murder, must die. There is, in this case, no juridical substitute or surrogate, that can be given or taken for the satisfaction of Justice. There is no Likeness or proportion between Life, however painful, and Death; and therefore there is no Equality between the crime of Murder and the retaliation of it but what is judicially accomplished by the execution of the Criminal.
Immanuel Kant[10]

The criminal is honoured as reasonable, because the punishment is regarded as containing his own right. The honour would not be shared by him, if the conception and measure of his punishment were not deduced from his very act. Just as little is he honoured when he is regarded as a hurtful animal, which must be made harmless, or as one who must be terrified or reformed. (…) In this view of punishment it is much the same as when one raises a cane against a dog; a man is not treated in accordance with his dignity and honour, but as a dog.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel[11]

Although in requital we cannot venture upon equality of details, the case is different with murder, to which death is necessarily due. Life is the total context of one’s existence, and cannot be measured by value. Its punishment, therefore, cannot be measured by value, but must consist in the taking of another life.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel[12]

Everyone is justified in demanding as a pledge the life of another, as a guarantee for the security of his own, but not for the security of his property, for which the freedom and so forth of another is sufficient pledge. For safeguarding the lives of the citizens, capital punishment is therefore absolutely necessary. Those who would like to abolish it should be given the answer: "First remove murder from the world, and then capital punishment ought to follow." It should be inflicted even for the definite attempt at murder, just as for murder itself; for the law's desire is to punish the deed, not to avenge the result.
Arthur Schopenhauer[13]

Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
John Stuart Mill[14][15]

Much has been said of the sanctity of human life, and the absurdity of supposing that we can teach respect for life by ourselves destroying it. But I am surprised at the employment of this argument, for it is one which might be brought against any punishment whatever. It is not human life only, not human life as such, that ought to be sacred to us, but human feelings. The human capacity of suffering is what we should cause to be respected, not the mere capacity of existing. And we may imagine somebody asking how we can teach people not to inflict suffering by ourselves inflicting it? But to this I should answer—all of us would answer—that to deter by suffering from inflicting suffering is not only possible, but the very purpose of penal justice. Does fining a criminal show want of respect for property, or imprisoning him, for personal freedom? Just as unreasonable is it to think that to take the life of a man who has taken that of another is to show want of regard for human life. We show, on the contrary, most emphatically our regard for it, by the adoption of a rule that he who violates that right in another forfeits it for himself.
John Stuart Mill[16]

When we protect guilty lives, we give up innocent lives in exchange.
Edward Irving Koch[17]

I personally have always voted for the death penalty because I believe that people who go out prepared to take the lives of other people forfeit their own right to live. I believe that that death penalty should be used only very rarely, but I believe that no-one should go out certain that no matter how cruel, how vicious, how hideous their murder, they themselves will not suffer the death penalty.
Margaret Thatcher[18]

Even when it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death, the State does not dispose of the individual's right to live. It is reserved rather to the public authority to deprive the criminal of the benefit of life when already, by his crime, he has deprived himself of the right to live.
Pope Pius XII[19]

Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life. And it is this same atrophy of moral fibre that appears in the plea for the abolition of the death penalty. It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merits.
John Murray[20]

Ebony Simpson got the death sentence, the Simpson family got a life sentence and Garforth's got bed and breakfast.
Peter Simpson[21]

The legal regime whose package of crime-control instruments happens not to include capital punishment does indeed embody an explicit government policy: a policy that inevitably and predictably opts for more murders over fewer. That the victims of those murders cannot be personally identified in advance does not seem to be a morally impressive basis for favoring the regime that makes their murders inevitable.
Cass R. Sunstein & Adrian Vermeule[22]


  1. 1,0 1,1 1,2 Scripture quotations marked WEB are taken from the World English Bible®. The World English Bible® is in the Public Domain. (LINK1), (LINK2)
  2. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Treatise on justice, Question 64 – Murder, Article 2 – Whether it is lawful to kill sinners? (LINK1), (LINK2)
  3. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Treatise on justice, Question 64 – Murder, Article 3 – Whether it is lawful for a private individual to kill a man who has sinned? (LINK1), (LINK2)
  4. Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers. (LINK1), (LINK2)
  5. Seneca the Younger, On Anger, (Book II, Chapter X, Verse 8), (LINK1), (LINK2)
  6. Lento adiutorio opus est contra mala continua et fecunda, non ut desinant, sed ne vincant.
    L. Annaei Senecae philosophi Opera omnia, (LINK1)
    L. Annaei Senecae opera quae supersunt, (LINK2)
  7. Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, (Book 7, Chapter 14, Verse 3), (LINK)
  8. Iustitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius suum cuique tribuendi.
    1. Iuris praecepta sunt haec: honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere.
    2. Iuris prudentia est divinarum atque humanarum rerum notitia, iusti atque iniusti scientia.
    Corpus iuris civilis. Digesta Iustiniani. (LINK)
  9. John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, The Second Treatise of Government, Chap. II. Of the State of Nature. Sec. 11, (LINK)
  10. Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals (Metaphysik der Sitten), Part I – The Doctrine of Right (or The Science of Right), (LINK)
  11. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosophy of Right, translated by S. W. Dyde, London 1896, §100 and Addition to §99, (LINK)
  12. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosophy of Right, translated by S. W. Dyde, London 1896, Addition to §101, (LINK)
  13. Arthur Schopenhauer, The World As Will and Representation, Supplements to the Fourth Book, Chapter XLVII. On Ethics
  14. John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St. Andrews, Feb. 1St 1867, p. 36, (LINK1), (LINK2)
  15. The second sentence of this quote (in a slightly modified form) is, most likely erroneously, attributed to Edmund Burke. See: (LINK1), (LINK2), (LINK3), (LINK4)
  16. John Stuart Mill, Speech In Favor of Capital Punishment, 21 April 1868, House of Commons, Westminster, United Kingdom, (LINK1), (LINK2), (LINK3)
  17. Edward I. Koch, Death and Justice, (LINK)
  18. Margaret Thatcher, TV Interview for Channel 4 A plus 4 (Brighton Bomb), (LINK)
  19. Pope Pius XII, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 44 (1952) s. 787, (LINK1), (LINK2)
  20. John Murray, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics, (Chapter 5, p. 122), (LINK)
  21. A statement by Peter Simpson, Ebony's father († 9), to the media outside the court after the conviction of the rapist and murderer Andrew Garforth (July 9, 1993), (LINK1), (Wiki), (YT), (DM), (LINK2)
  22. Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? - Acts, Omissions and Life-Life Tradeoffs, (2005–06) 58 Stanford Law Review 703, (LINK1), (LINK2), p. 723