Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Legislation on Capital Punishment Issues

From Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice (

2009 Legislative Update: Capital Punishment

The United States Supreme Court has said that any criminal punishment, including the death penalty should reflect the “conscience of the community,” and its application should be measured against society’s “evolving standards of decency.” Events in our state in 2008 should trouble the consciences of Mississippians. In the past year, we have seen:

· the exoneration of Kennedy Brewer, an innocent man who spent 13 years on death row;

· the exoneration of Levon Brooks, another innocent man who was convicted of murder and imprisoned for 16 years;

· the execution of Earl Berry, a mentally retarded man;

· the execution of Dale Bishop, a mentally ill man who was merely present during a killing while the actual murderer received a life sentence; and

· the forced resignation of Dr. Stephen Hayne, the de facto State medical examiner whose testimony has been crucial in condemning many of the prisoners on Mississippi’s death row.

Thoughtful Mississippi must contemplate the absurdity of continuing a system that has delivered such horrific injustices. Proposals expected to be introduced in the 2009 Legislative Session address these issues.

Compensate the Innocent. More than 120 people have been freed from death row since 1973, after their innocence was vindicated by DNA analysis and other proof. Polls show that the American public is deeply concerned by the prospect of sending more innocent men and women to their deaths. Many are skeptical of such claims, but in the wake of the State’s admission that Kennedy Brewer was innocent of the charges that held him on Death Row for 13 years, we are faced with the likelihood that there are others like him in Parchman.

State Representative Willie Perkins has introduced House Bill 189 and House Bill 200. These bills would compensate people wrongly convicted of crimes. Mississippi is one of the few states without such a system; we send wrongly incarcerated people home with only an apology. To be certain, compensation will never fully redress the wrong inflicted on innocent prisoners and their families, but it will reflect a measure of repentance for that wrong. It may also serve to hold the State’s agents – whether prosecutors, law enforcement officers, or appointed defense counsel – accountable for their misconduct.

Both of Rep. Perkins’ bills have been referred to the House Corrections and Appropriations Committees. They can be followed at:

Stop the Executions of Those Who Do Not Kill. The bipartisan outcry against the unfairness of executing Dale Bishop, a mere accomplice, while the actual killer in the case was sentenced to life, proves that Mississippians do not support the arbitrary application of the death penalty. Of the over 1,100 prisoners executed in the United States Since 1976, Bishop was only the eighth person to be executed who was not either the actual killer or the payor in a murder-for-hire.

As the Clarion-Ledger reported in July 2008, neighboring States such as Louisiana or Alabama would not permit a mere accomplice to be executed. Representative John Mayo has introduced House Bill 29, which would adopt this rule in Mississippi. It has been referred to the House Judiciary En Banc Committee. It can be followed at:

Moratorium. These two proposals, of course, are merely the beginning of a moral response to capital punishment in Mississippi. Those who work with Death Row prisoners know that capital punishment does not deter crime; most persons who commit murder are seriously mentally ill, high on drugs or alcohol, or desperately impoverished. They do not undertake a “cost-benefit” analysis before killing their victim.

The death penalty is not needed to prevent repeat murders. Society is more than adequately protected by incarcerating murderers for life without parole. In that event, if later proof shows the prisoner is actually innocent, he would be alive and could be released and compensated. That is certainly not the case today. And the families of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment can continue to visit their loved ones; when a prisoner is executed, his or her family suffers as well.

If deterrence and the protection of society are insufficient to justify the death penalty, why keep it? Some argue that the families of victims deserve retribution. This is doubtful both factually and morally. Although the cost per execution varies from state to state, the fact that prosecuting, appealing and inevitably executing those sentenced to death costs much more per case than that of those given a life without parole sentence is indisputable. With 64 death row prisoners in our state, can we afford to continue such a costly and fallible practice?

Spending that same money on assisting the families of murder victims, such as college funds established for minor children of murder victims, low interest mortgage loans, retribution payments, would be a far more Christian response than fostering revenge.

The fact is that more study of these issues is desperately needed. Representative Mayo has sponsored House Bill 145, imposing a moratorium on executions pending such a study. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary En Banc Committee and can be followed at:

Conclusion. These bills should be important to Mississippians who seek to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly before [their] God.” Micah 6:8. They are commended to your further study and support.


dudleysharp said...

The Death Penalty Provides More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
To state the blatantly clear, living murderers, in prison, after release or escape,  are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
Although an obvious truism, it is surprising how often  folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.
No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.
Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
That is. logically, conclusive.
16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.
A surprise? No.
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.
What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is compelling and un refuted that death is feared more than life.
Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
Reality paints a very different picture.
What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
Furthermore, history tells us that lifers have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.
In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.
The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers, The New York Times,  has recognized that deception.
To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . (1) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.
There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.
If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can, reasonably, conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.
Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
Full report -All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.
Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request
(1) The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times
copyright 2007-2009, Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
Pro death penalty sites   (Sweden)

dudleysharp said...

It is a fairly standard anti death penalty claim that the death penalty is revenge. The reality is that folks support the death penalty for the same reason all other sanctions are supported, as a just and appropriate sanction for the crime committed.

A death sentence requires pre existing statutes, trial and appeals, considerations of guilt and due process, to name but a few.  Revenge requires none of these and, in fact, does not even require guilt or a crime.

The criminal justice system goes out of its way to take hatred and revenge out of the process.  That is why we have a system of pre existing laws and legal procedures that offer extreme protections to defendants and those convicted and which provide statutes and sanctions which existed prior to the crime.
It is also why those directly affected by the murder are not allowed to be fact finders in the case.

The reality is that the pre trial, trial. appellate and executive clemency/commutation processes offer much  greater time and human resources to capital cases than they do to any other cases, meaning that the facts tell us that defendants and convicted murderers, subject to the death penalty, receive much greater care and concern than those not facing the death penalty - the opposite of a system marked with vengeance.

Calling executions a product of hatred and revenge is simply a way in which some death penalty opponents attempt to establish a sense of moral superiority. It can also be a transparent insult which results in additional hurt to those victim survivors who have already suffered so much and who believe that execution is the appropriate punishment for those who murdered their loved one(s).

The pro death penalty position is based upon those who find that punishment just and appropriate under specific circumstances.

Those opposed to execution cannot prove a foundation of hatred and revenge for the death penalty any more than they can for any other punishment sought within a system such as that observed within the US - unless such opponents find all punishments a product of hatred and revenge - an unreasonable, unfounded position

Far from hatred and revenge, the death penalty represents our greatest condemnation for a crime of unequaled horror and consequence. Lesser punishments may suffice under some circumstances. A death sentence for certain heinous crimes is given in those special circumstances when a jury finds such is more just than a lesser sentence.

Less justice is not what we need.

A thorough review of the criminal justice system will often beg this question: Why have we chosen to be so generous to murderers and so contemptuous of the human rights and suffering of the victims and future victims?

The punishment of death is, in no way, a balancing between harm and punishment, because the innocent murder victim did not deserve or earn their fate, whereas the murderer has earned their own, deserved punishment by the free will action of violating societies laws and an individuals life and, thereby, voluntarily subjecting themselves to that jurisdictions judgment.

copyright 2001-2008   Dudley Sharp, Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

dudleysharp said...

Christian Scholars: Support for the Death Penalty
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
The strength of the biblical, theological and traditional support for the death penalty is, partially, revealed, below.

(1) "Capital Punishment: New Testament Teaching", 1998, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., considered one of the most prominent Roman Catholic theologians of  the 20th century.   See bottom.

 "There are certain moral norms that have always and everywhere been held by the successors of the Apostles in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Although never formally defined, they are irreversibly binding on the followers of Christ until the end of the world." "Such moral truths are the grave sinfulness of contraception and direct abortion. Such, too, is the Catholic doctrine which defends the imposition of the death penalty."

"Most of the Church's teaching, especially in the moral order, is infallible doctrine because it belongs to what we call her ordinary universal magisterium."

"Equally important is the Pope's  (Pius XII) insistence that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture of Christianity." " . . . the Church's teaching on 'the coercive power of legitimate human authority' is based on 'the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.' It is wrong, therefore 'to say that these sources only contain ideas which are conditioned by historical circumstances.' On the contrary, they have 'a general and abiding validity.' (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1955, pp 81-2)."
about Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

(2) "The Death Penalty", by Romano Amerio,  a faithful Catholic Vatican insider, scholar, professor at the Academy of Lugano, consultant to the Preparatory Commission of Vatican II, and a peritus (expert theologian) at the Council.

A thorough theological repudiation of Pope John Paul II's death penalty prudential judgements and of their improper inclusion into the amending of the Catechism.

"Amerio has the great gift of going to the heart of a subject in a few lines and very neatly distinguishes genuine Catholicism from imitations and aberrations." "What makes Amerio's analysis unique is that he restricts himself to official and semi-official pronouncements by popes, cardinals, bishops, episcopal conferences and articles in L'Osservatore Romano, from the time of Pope John XXIII to 1985 when the book was originally written." (1)
titled "Amerio on capital punishment ",   Chapter XXVI, 187. The death penalty, from the book Iota Unum,   May 25, 2007

About Romano Amerio

(3)  "Christian Scholars & Saints: Support for the Death Penalty", at
(4)  "Capital Punishment: A Catholic Perspective",
          by Br. Augustine (Emmanuel Valenza)
(5) "Capital Punishment: The Case for Justice", Prof. J. Budziszewski, First Things, August / September 2004

(6) Chapter V:The Sanctity of Life, "Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics" By John Murray

(7) "Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says", Dr. Lloyd R. Bailey, Abingdon Press, 1987.  The definitive  biblical review of the death penalty.

(8) "Why I Support Capital Punishment", by Andrew Tallman
          sections 7-11 biblical review, sections 1-6 secular review

 (9) "The Death Penalty", by Solange Strong Hertz at

(10)  "A Seamless Garment In a Sinful World" by John R. Connery, S. J., America, 7/14/84, p 5-8).

(11) "God’s Justice and Ours" by US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, First Things, 5/2002

(12) Forgotten Truths: "Is The Church Against Abortion and The Death Penalty"
          by Luiz Sergio Solimeo, Crusade Magazine, p14-16, May/June 2007


(13) "The Purpose of Punishment (in the Catholic tradition)",
        by R. Michael Dunningan, J.D., J.C.L., CHRISTIFIDELIS, Vol.21,No.4, sept 14, 2003

         KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER,   Catholic Answers, March 2, 2004

          KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER, Catholic Answers,, Nov. 22, 2005

Religious positions in favor of capital punishment are neither necessary not needed to justify that sanction. However, the biblical and theological record is very supportive of the death penalty.
Many of the current religious campaigns against the death penalty reflect a fairly standard anti death penalty message, routed in secular arguments. When they do address  religious issues, they often neglect solid theological foundations, choosing, instead, select biblical sound bites which do not impact the solid basis of death penalty support.

(1) Books: 'Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church', by Romano Amerio, Fr Peter Joseph (reviewer)
IOTA UNUM: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century
by Romano Amerio (English translation by Fr John Parsons)
(Sarto House, USA, 786 pp)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 9 No 8 (September 1996), p. 14

70% of Catholics supported the death penalty as of May, 2oo5, Gallup Poll, Moral Values and Beliefs. The May 2-5, 2005 poll also found that 74% of Americans  favor the death penalty for murderers, while 23% oppose.

copyright 1999-2009 Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Anonymous said...

Ask Mr. Dudley Sharp questions like "can you tell me about the major limitations on the research you mention?" and you will get a blank from him. Ask him about the studies showing a possible brutalizing effect and he will dodge.
Ask Mr. Sharp if the US executes the people who create the most damage and he will not answer.

Jim Craig said...

If I'm not mistaken, in John 7:53-8:11, Jesus is asked to take part in an execution. The woman's guilt of the offense (adultery) is assumed by all -- in fact, Jesus tells her at the end of the passage to "sin no more." There is also no question that the lawful punishment for adultery under the Old Testament law was death.

But Jesus refused to participate, saying, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

There is no recorded statement by Jesus about abortion, homosexuality, or gambling, things considered to be sinful by many Christians. But he clearly thought that the death penalty was contrary to his teachings of grace and forgiveness.

When the Church -- any denomination -- tries to create legalisms to evade this clear teaching, they commit heresy.

dudleysharp said...

Sadly, Dahn Shaulis, aka Vegas Quixote or vegasquixote or theamericaninjusticesystem

follows me around the web, picking up new names along the way, while making false allegations.

He is obsessed, it would appear.

The reality is that I do a great deal of research and I answer all serious questions.

Dahn Shaulis, if you would like to be responsible and ask specific questions, I will try to answer. As you well know, I do not dodge. You used to ask serious questions and reut my material, but, once it became clear that I could fully respond, you started the hit and run nonsense, without any real contributions.

e happy to fully address your factual issue on the death penalty.

dudleysharp said...

To Jim Craig:

Re John 8 and and the woman caught in adultery:

Part 1

John 8 and the death penalty:
The Woman Caught in Adultery
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact infor below

1. What about the woman caught in adultery? From “Why I Support Capital Punishment”, by Andrew Tallman, sections 7-11 biblical review, sections 1-6 secular review

In John 8:1-11, the Pharisees bring Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery to see if He will authorize her execution. After He famously says, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” they all depart, and Jesus sends the woman on her way, saying, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no more.” Of all passages in the Bible, this one most clearly shows that Jesus opposed capital punishment.

First, we should note that this passage is textually dubious. The best manuscripts don’t include it, and both its placement and style controvert its authenticity.

Even so, the Christian community has long considered this an iconic story of Jesus’s mercy. So, to merely throw it out would be inappropriate. Besides, it may well be a legitimate story, just not one included in the John autoscript. Hence, an interpretation would be more helpful than a dismissal.

The trouble is that most people wildly misunderstand this story. The Pharisees’ only reason for bringing this woman to Jesus was to put Him in a dilemma. On the one hand, He couldn’t call for her execution since Roman law prohibited anyone other than a Roman court from doing this. The Pharisees proved they knew this when they later brought Jesus to Pilate rather than killing Him themselves. On the other hand, He couldn’t oppose her execution because this would have proven He was a false prophet for contradicting God’s Law. The passage even explains this in verse 6, “they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him.”

So, the Pharisees wanted to make Jesus a heretic for opposing capital punishment, but He evaded their trap. The tremendous irony is that now, two thousand years later, people who claim to love Jesus teach that He was precisely the heretic His enemies wanted to paint Him as. If Jesus was in fact repudiating capital punishment in this story, then He was neither the Divine Son of God nor even a true prophet. As I’m apparently more reluctant than others to embrace this conclusion, I can’t interpret

Jesus as rejecting the Old Testament here. Had He been, His enemies would have left jubilant rather than ashamed. There are many theories on the meaning of this story, but the one thing we must not do is use it to say Jesus overturned God’s Word as His enemies intended.

2. Even anti-death penalty activists Sister Helen Prejean, often inaccurate, get this right: "It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical proof text in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus' admonition "Let him without sin cast the first stone", when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) - the Mosaic Law prescribed death - should be read in its proper context. This passage is an entrapment story, which sought to how Jesus' wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment . Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking.

3. Also see - Misuse and misunderstanding of John 8:7 is quite common. See Forgery in the Gospel of John

4. Do a GOOGLE search for entrapment “John 8:7" and read the results.

Here are a couple, below.

5. John 8: The Woman Caught in Adultery - Dealing with Capital Offenses Lawfully


6. The Woman Taken in Adultery
By Rousas John Rushdoony

During the course of our analysis of the law, repeated references were made to the confirmation of the law in the Gospels. It is not our purpose here either to repeat those confirmations or to attempt an exhaustive catalogue of every reference to the law in the Gospels. One event, however, although cited in some detail earlier, deserves further attention: the story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8:1-11.

Because this particular incident has been cited as an instance of the setting aside of the law, as the prime example, in fact, it needs further attention because it in fact is a confirmation of the law. Had the incident been at all antinomian, it would have provided the scribes and Pharisees with exactly the charge they wanted with which to condemn Jesus.

The charge of Jesus against the scribes and Phari- sees was precisely their antinomianism; He had strongly denounced them publicly for their neglect of the law for tradition (Matt. 15:1-10). No answer was possible against this charge: clearly, the leaders of the people had set aside the law by means of their humanistic legal tradition.

The whole point of the attack of these leaders was to try to show that Jesus, when confronted by the hard facts of a concrete case, would be no more a strict champion of the law than they were. The culminating example of this attempt to embarrass Jesus was this incident of the woman taken in adultery. To ask for the full enforcement of the law, the death penalty, would have been to invite hostility, because the pre- vailing attitude was one of moral laxity.

To deny the death penalty would have enabled the Pharisees to charge Jesus with hypocrisy: He would then have been in the same school of thought as the Pharisees He condemned. Quite obviously, Jesus did not take an antinomian stand, because the Pharisees left, confounded, and the incident obviously confirmed Jesus as the champion of the law. A woman had been “taken in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4).

The woman was “brought unto him.” We cannot assume that she came voluntarily. She may have been dragged there, but the text does not indicate this. Apparently “the scribes and Pharisees” involved had police powers, or had, with the assistance of the authorities, used such legal powers as were necessary to compel her compliance. Having such legal authority, they were also requiring that Jesus preside at the hearing.

The man involved in the act was not brought forward; we have no knowledge of the reason for this, although it would appear that it would have aggravated the “offense” of Jesus had He either demanded the death penalty for a woman, or, on the other hand, allowed an adulterous woman to go free. More emotional reaction could be milked by the use of an adulterous woman than an adulterous man.

“Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him” (John 8:5-6). The reason for the incident is plainly stated: grounds for an accusation against Jesus were sought. Would Jesus persist as the champion of the law, or would He retreat into the use of some aspect of the pharisaic tradition? “But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not” (John 8:6). At this point, the comment of Burgon is most telling and deserves full citation:

The Scribes and Pharisees bring a woman to our SAVIOR on a charge of adultery. The sin prevailed to such an extent among the Jews that the Divine enactments concerning one so accused had long since fallen into practical oblivion. On the present occasion our LORD is observed to revive His own ancient ordinance after a hitherto unheard of fashion. The trial by bitter water, or water of conviction (See Num. v. 11-31), was a species of ordeal, intended for the vindication of innocence, the conviction of guilt. But ac- cording to the traditional belief the test proved inefficacious, unless the husband himself was innocent of the crime whereof he accused his wife. Let the provisions of the law, contained in Num. v. 16 to 24, be now considered.

The accused Woman having been brought near, and set before the LORD, the priest took “holy water in an earthen vessel,” and put “of the dust of the floor of the tabernacle into the water.” Then, with the bitter water that causeth the curse in his hand, he charged the woman by oath. Next, he wrote the curses in a book and blotted them out with the bitter water; causing the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse. Whereupon if she were guilty, she fell under a terrible penalty,—her body testifying visibly to her sin. If she was innocent, nothing followed.


dudleysharp said...

contd Part 2

And now, who sees not that the Holy One dealt with His hypo- critical assailants, as if they had been the accused parties? Into the presence of incarnate JEHOVAH verily they had been brought: and perhaps when He stooped down and wrote upon the ground. it was a bitter sentence against the adulterer and adulteress which He wrote. We have but to assume some connexion between the curse which He thus traced “in the dust of the floor of the tabernacle” and the words which He uttered with His lips, and He may with truth be declared to have “taken of the dust and put it on the water,” and “caused them to drink of the bitter water which causeth the curse.” For when, by His Holy Spirit, our great High Priest in His human flesh addressed these adulterers,—what did He but present them with living water (v. 17. So the LXX) “in an earthen vessel” (2 Cor. iv. 7; v. 1)? Did He not further charge them with an oath of cursing, saying, “If ye have not gone aside to uncleanness, be ye free from the bitter water: but if ye be defiled”—On being presented with which alternative, did they not, self-convicted, go out one by one? And what else was this but their own acquittal of the sinful woman, for whose condemnation they had shewed them- selves so impatient? Surely it was “the water of conviction” as it is six times called, which they had been compelled to drink; where- upon, “convicted by their own conscience,” as St. John relates, they had pronounced the other’s acquittal. Finally, note that by Himself declining to “condemn” the accused woman, our LORD also did in effect blot out those curses which He had already written against her in the dust,—when He made the floor of the sanctuary His “book.”1

Because this incident took place in the temple (John 8:2), Burgon’s comment is all the more to the point. The temple dust He wrote in met the requirements of the law. His action placed every accuser on trial immediately; that they were aware of this, the text makes clear, for we are told that all felt “convicted by their own conscience” (John 8:9). Charges had been made against the woman by the “scribes and Pharisees.” Their charges represented a clear-cut case against a woman taken in “the very act” of adultery. The counter-charges by Jesus, by His actions and by His declaration, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), broke them. As themselves guilty men, they suspected secret evidence on His part against them They were busy trying to collect evidence against Jesus; this made it easier for them to believe that Jesus had done the same to them. These scribes and Pharisees had preferred charges against the woman in the place of her husband; Jesus placed them in the husband’s category by invoking Numbers 5 by His writing in the dust.

If they were guilty, and Jesus knew of their guilt, then, if He invoked the death penalty, could He not charge them also? By invoking

Numbers 5, Jesus in effect placed them on trial also: did they come to judgement with clean hands? It will not do to plead the “high moral standards” of Pharisees, These men were planning the death of Jesus. In the face of their deliberate and calculating plans against God’s Messiah, the sin of adultery was a trifling matter to such men. They had no stomach for an accusation against them which could cite God’s requirement a death penalty. When Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), He was not referring to sins in general but to the sin of adultery. A general statement would mean no court of law is possible; the specific reference meant that men (1. John W. Burgon, The Woman Taken in Adultery, p. 239 f. On the evidences for the authenticity of this passage, see p. 246 ff.) guilty of a crime were not morally free to condemn that crime in another unless they condemned it in themselves.

We are told that all these scribes and Pharisees were then “convicted by their own conscience” (vs. 9). Moreover, Jesus had confirmed the death penalty; He had simply demanded honest witnesses to step forward and execute her, to “first cast a stone at her” (vs. 7). To remain as witnesses against her was to invite witnesses against themselves; to testify to a witnessed fact and confirm a death penalty against the woman was to invite a witness unto death against themselves. They left.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: Go, and sin no more (John 8:10-11).

At this point, it is necessary to distinguish between civil or juridical forgiveness. Civil forgiveness occurs when a condemned person pays the penalty for his crime, when restitution is made and the moral claims of the law are satisfied. A thief who had robbed a man of an ox and restored fivefold is thereupon forgiven. Religious forgiveness requires as a prior condition restitution, or civil forgiveness. A thief cannot be forgiven religiously if he has not made restitution. There is a similar distinction between civil condemnation and religious condemnation. Civil condemnation is for offenses against the civil law; religious condemnation is both for offenses against the civil law and for disbelief of God and His law-word.

The two kinds of forgiveness and condemnation are distinct but related. Jesus had been asked to make a pronouncement on the civil law with respect to adultery; He affirmed the death penalty. The witnesses, however, had withdrawn their charge and had disappeared. There was thus no legal case against the woman. Legally, Jesus could not therefore sustain a case: “Neither do I condemn thee.” But a moral case existed. The humility of the woman, who acknowledged Him to be “Lord,” indicates some evidence of change in her, and perhaps regeneration. But Jesus simply said, “Go, and sin no more,” an echo of His words in John 5:14, “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” It is more than possible that she was religiously a changed person, and forgiven by God’s grace. We are simply told that no ground for legal condemnation existed at the moment. This does not rule out subsequent legal condemnation; her husband, if she had one, is not evident in this episode, but he would have had grounds for some kind of action, under existing law, if he chose. This is not the concern of the text.

She was granted acquittal in terms of the evidences of the immediate “hearing.” Jesus recognized the reality of her offense by His warning, “Go, and sin no more.” The fact of this warning indicates some evidences of a change in her, since it was contrary to our Lord’s practice to warn those who would not be warned (Matt. 7:6). For Christ to tell an unregenerate person to “sin no more” is unreasonable. The particular sin referred to was adultery. She was charged with a responsibility to chastity as an aspect of her new life in Christ.

The woman addressed Jesus as “Lord” (John 8:11); the scribes and Pharisees simply called Him “Master” (vs. 4), and the disciples themselves often spoke of Him as simply “Rabbi” (John 1:49). Her con- duct here indicated a changed person. In brief, instead of any evidence of antinomianism, this episode confirmed emphatically the position of Jesus as the champion of the law, and He confounded the attempts of the scribes and Pharisees to prove otherwise. The sin of Phariseeism was thus exposed. Phariseeism, first of all, denied the necessity of conversion. Man, by his unaided free will, is able to save himself, to choose between good and evil and make himself good. Both free will and self-salvation were thus affirmed, and pre- destination and conversion or regeneration denied.2

Second, the Pharisees had, while professing to hold to the law of God, converted it into the traditions of men. Thus, they had denied the Biblical doctrines of justification and sanctification and were accordingly the particular target of Christ’s denunciation. The Pharisees, professing to be champions of God’s word, were in fact its enemies and perverters.

2. See Hugo Odeberg, Phariseeism and Christianity (St. Louis: Concordia, 1964).

I am very happy to have presented the above extended passage which is quoted from Rousas John Rushdoony’s INSTITUTES OF BIBLICAL LAW, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, The Craig Press, 1973

“I most heartily recommend this, his central and finest work, to the reader.”

Richard Eric Gunby currently resides in the central North Carolina town of Graham, located halfway between Durham and Greensboro, and approx. 35 minutes from Chapel Hill. Holding a fully accredited B.A. (1976) in Bible and Philosophy, with two years of graduate seminary work, he is a published writer of nutrition & alternative health, and Pre-Columbian studies concerned with ancient exploration.

He has also previously self-published a Biblical/Theological study on God’s Omniscience, entitled The Future. Another of his self-published works details and thoroughly documents the voyage of Prince Henry Sinclear to America almost a hundred years before Columbus, in, Little Known Facts of Gunn(by) History.

He has been in the faith since the Lord Jesus Christ brought Eric to Himself in 1972. He is a member in good standing of Beacon Baptist Church, Burlington, NC. A moderate size independent fellowship (approx. 350) that adheres to and promotes the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of grace, also emphasizes expositional preaching, discipleship, and missions.

Eric welcomes all civil correspondence:

Richard Eric Gunby
Lot 18 Sleepy Hollow<
2833 South Hwy. NC #87
Graham, NC 27253-9429
1(336) 570 – 1237

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

dudleysharp said...


The "120 people have been freed from death row since 1973, after their innocence was vindicated by DNA analysis and other proof."

is a blatant scam. Please fact check.

Re: fact checking issues, on innocence and the death penalty.

It is very important to take note that the 130 exonerated from death row is a blatant scam, easily uncovered by fact checking.

The Death Penalty Information Center has been responsible for some of the most serious deceptions by the anti death penalty side, includsive of this 130 exonerated and innocence scam.

Dieter and DPIC have produced the claims regarding the exonerated and innocents released from death row list. The scam is that DPIC just decided to redefine what exonerated and innocence mean according to their own perverse definitions.

Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC): defining what "exonerated" or "innocent" means.

". . . (DPIC) makes no distinction between legal and factual innocence. " 'They're innocent in the eyes of the law,' Dieter says. 'That's the only objective standard we have.' "

That is untrue, of course. We are all aware of the differences between legal guilt and actual guilt and legal innocence (not guilty) and actual innocence, just as the courts are.

Furthermore, there is no finding of actual innocence, but it is "not guilty". Dieter knows that we are all speaking of actual innocence, those cases that have no connection to the murder(s). He takes advantage of that by redefining exonerated and innocence.

Dieter "clarifies" the three ways that former death row inmates get onto their "exonerated" by "innocence" list.

"A defendant whose conviction is overturned by a judge must be further exonerated in one of three ways: he must be acquitted at a new trial, or the prosecutor must drop the charges against him, or a governor must grant an absolute pardon."

None establishes actual innocence.

DPIC has " . . . included supposedly innocent defendants who were still culpable as accomplices to the actual triggerman."

DPIC: "There may be guilty persons among the innocents, but that includes all of us."

Good grief. DPIC wishes to apply collective guilt of capital murder to all of us.

Dieter states: "I don't think anybody can know about a person's absolute innocence." (Green). Dieter said he could not pinpoint how many are "actually innocent" -- only the defendants themselves truly know that, he said." (Erickson)

Or Dieter won't assert actual innocence in 1, 102 or 350 cases. He doesn't want to clarify a real number with proof of actual innocence, that would blow his entire deception.

Or, Dieter declare all innocent: "If you are not proven guilty in a court of law, you're innocent." (Green)

Dieter would call Hitler and Stalin innocent. Those are his "standards".

And that is the credibility of the DPIC.

For fact checking.

1. "Case Histories: A Review of 24 Individuals Released from Death Row", Florida Commission on Capital Cases, 6/20/02, Revised 9/10/02 at

83% error rate in "innocent" claims.

2. "Is 'the innocence list' an appropriate name?", 1/19/03

Dieter admits they don't discern between legal innocence and actual innocence. One of Dieter's funnier quotes;"The prosecutor, perhaps, or Dudley Sharp, perhaps, thinks they're still guilty because there was evidence of their guilt, but that's a subjective judgment." Yep, "EVIDENCE OF GUILT", can't you see why Dieter would think they were innocent? And that's how the DPIC works.

3. The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times

"To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . ".

That is out of the DPIC claimed 119 "exonerated", at that time, for a 75% error rate.

NOTE: It's hard to understand how an absolute can have a differential of 33%. I suggest the "to be sure" is, now, closer to 25.


5. "The Death Penalty Debate in Illinois", JJKinsella,6/2000,


Origins of "innocence" fraud, and review of many innocence issues

7. "Bad List", Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, 9/16/02

How bad is DPIC?

8. "Not so Innocent", By Ramesh Ponnuru,National Review, 10/1/02

DPIC from bad to worse.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

dudleysharp said...


I am not sure there are many citizens skeptical of innocents setenced to death row. Regadless of sanction, most of us know that actual innocents are convicted. That is one of the important reasons we have an appellate and clemency system.

I do think I am on solid ground in claiming innocents are more at risk without the death penalty, as per the first reply.