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Ep. 51 Hannah Cox Tells Conservatives Why They Should Oppose the Death Penalty

Hannah Cox is National Manager of the organization Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. She is conservative/libertarian on standard policy issues, and is a strong advocate of the 2nd Amendment, but even so–perhaps surprisingly to some–she is also very alarmed with the State’s abuses in the criminal justice system.
Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:

The audio production for this episode was provided by Podsworth Media.

About the author, Robert

Christian and economist, Chief Economist at infineo, and Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute.


  1. Murphy Stuff on 08/22/2019 at 4:59 PM

    […] Ep. 51 of the Bob Murphy Show features Hannah Cox explaining why conservatives should oppose the death […]

  2. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 3:33 PM


    I will rebut all of Cox’s points, as I have rebutted Cox and CCADP over the years, with no counter from them, because they cannot.

    CCADP is owned and controlled by a well known liberal anti death penalty group – Equal Justice USA.

    That doesn’t make them wrong. It just so happens, they are.

    CCADP’s anti death penalty points are either false, misleading or the pro death penalty positions are stronger, as detailed.

  3. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 3:37 PM

    Rebuttal of Cox’s anti death penalty points, in order.

    I have previously rebutted Cox on most if not all of these.

    1) Cox: Limited Government Advocates Must Oppose Death Penalty

    Reply a) Death row represents about 0.045% of all criminals under active government oversight

    b) The modern death penalty may be the most limited of all government programs.

    Since 1973, it has been applied to about 8700 capital murderers, over that 46 year period, or 190 per year.

    The death penalty, by a huge margin, is applied to the fewest crimes and criminals, within the criminal justice system, having the smallest budget of any criminal justice sanctions..Now, there are nearly 2 million incarcerated with nearly 4 million on parole or probation.

    c) proper management, as with Virginia, has resulted in 113 murderers being executed within 7 years of full appeals on average – a protocol, very likely, to be much less costly than capital LWOP cases.

  4. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 3:50 PM

    2) Cox: Murder Victims Family Members Oppose The Death Penalty

    a) Non scientific polling shows about a 95% support for the death penalty by loved ones of murder victims in capital crimes

    b) proper management, as with Virginia, has resulted in 113 murderers being executed within 7 years of full appeals on average – a protocol, very likely, to be much less costly than capital LWOP cases and one which honors justice but not causing irresponsible delays.

    c) Rep. Cushing (NH) started the first anti death penalty victim survivor group in the US

    Cushing’s Denial of Other Victim’s Choices

    The murderers of Rep. Cushing’s father received the maximum sentence available for the crime, life, yet Rep. Cushing wants to deny that same option to other loved ones who wish to seek the maximum sentence in their cases, when they are death eligible murders.

    My condolences to Rep. Cushing, for the two murders in his family, neither of which were death penalty eligible, as with many, if not most, of those in these organizations.

    Why do these survivors, like Rep. Cushing, wish to deny other murder victim survivors a maximum sentence, when Rep. Cushing had the benefit of a maximum sentence in his case?

    Cushing and CCADP fought to repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire.

    The only person on NH death row was the murderer of on-duty police officer Michael Briggs.

    Brigg’s wife implored the NH legislature not to repeal the death penalty. They did.

    Cushing, Cox, CCADP and murderers were overjoyed.

    It seems an unfortunate way for survivors to treat survivors.

    Why can’t Rep. Cushing, et al, say:”We disagree with the death penalty, but we will defend the moral/legal right of other murder victim survivors to pursue the death penalty in their cases.”

    Instead, Rep. Cushing and other anti death penalty folks want to take that moral/legal right away, harming the cause of pro death penalty murder victim survivors.Why?

    They need all murderers to live, which they find much more important than the wishes of the loved ones who find the death penalty the most just sanction, as does Cox.

    My condolences to all those faced with the murder of a loved one and any of those affected by any violent crime.

  5. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 3:54 PM

    3) Cox: Police find the death penalty the least effective tool in their arsenal

    What Cox omitted.

    a) 92% of the police chiefs support the death penalty (figure 5, fn 1)

    b) The death penalty HAD TO BE chosen the least effective tool, because that survey had listed 7 options, of which the death penalty had the smallest effect, by a huge margin, on criminal justice issues (Figure 1, fn 1)

    The questions and answers were set up that way by the anti death penalty group that funded the survey.

    c) I was very surprised by these results from the same survey, showing such high percentages

    . — 29% of the Police Chiefs said that imposing more death sentences was part of their cost effective priorities

    — 26% of the police Chiefs believe the death penalty significantly reduces murders

    — 30% of the Police Chiefs found the death penalty to be one of their most significant tools.

    All from: ON The Front Line: Law Enforcement Views on The Death Penalty, A Report by the anti death penalty Death Penalty Information Center, April, 1995,

  6. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:02 PM

    4) Cox: We exonerate 1 death row inmate for every 10 executions

    Reply: Such is untrue

    a) The false claim starts with the number of exonerated from death row, falsely claimed to be 166. The exonerated deceptions became well known, at least by 2000, as we knew then and now, that anti death penalty folks had, simply, redefined both “innocent” and “exonerated” as if they had redefined lie as truth. This is not in dispute

    b) The false claims are in the 70-83% range, depending upon study, so the proven innocent is about 42.

    c) the relevant factor in the ratio in not executions, but the ratio of actually innocent to total number sentenced, which, so far, is about 42 to 8700, or 1 in 207 – about 0.5% – which is how to measure error rates. All were released.

    d) One study finds that. for all violent crimes, the exoneration rate is in the range of 0.016%–0.062%.

    e) Possibly, we have unequivocal proof of innocents executed as recently as 1915, two brothers, Meeks and Thomas Griffin, from South Carolina.

    f) Innocents are much more at risk when we allow murderers to live.

    Sources:Death Row, “Exonerations”, Media & Intentional Fraud

    • Dudley Sharp on 08/25/2019 at 12:08 PM

      CORRECTION to (4)

      We should, properly, be looking at the modern era, post Gregg v Georgia (1976), meaning that, after subtracting 25 pre 1977 cases, the “exoneration” claims are 141, not 166

      \with b and c, recalculated using the lower numbers.

      b) so the proven innocent is about 34, not 42 (using an average 76% error rate, the 34 comes from 24% times 141).

      c) with the ratio being 34 to 8700, or 1 in 256 – about 0.4% – which is how to measure error rates. All were released.

      not Cox’s ridiculous 1 in 10. The true error rate is 1 in 256, with all released.

  7. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:08 PM

    4) continued

    Of course appeals and executive considerations within pardons and commutations are crucial to catching error – that is what they are designed for.

    They are an integral, important part of making the death penalty safer.

    Appeals/executive review are there BECAUSE pre trial and trial systems did not work as they should OR case facts and/or new case law occurred after pre trial and trial.

    They are an inseperable part of the death penalty due process, as everyone knows

    That is THE reason folks say the system worked as it should, which Cox dismissed, stating, “Nothing could be further from the truth” but which is, obviously, true, as Cox and everyone well know.

    Appeals time, prior to executions, in 2017, averaged over 20 years.

    Everyone knows that all human endeavors will have flaws, at some time or another. That is why safeguards are built in to most if not all human endeavors. Are those safeguards perfect? Of course not, as thousands of years of human history confirm. But, most of us are,always, trying to raise the bar.

  8. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:11 PM

    5) I, fully, agree with Cox – Ray Krone was truly innocent.

    Reply: Krone did not spend 10 years on death row, as Cox stated, but 2 years, 8 months.

    It makes a difference.

    The specific innocence at risk fear on death row is the possibility of an innocent being executed. With less than 3 years on death row, that was never a possibility.

    Appellate review worked, as with all the known, truly, innocent cases.

    Krone had a retrial and was sentenced to life, serving nearly 8 more years, prior to his innocence being confirmed.

    Krone received $4.4 million for his wrongful convictions. It was not, nearly, enough.

    The teeth mark forensics within Krone’s case were a complete disaster, as was the police investigation and the prosecution.

    DNA confirmed the real murderer in the case.

  9. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:13 PM

    Rebuttal of Cox’s anti death penalty points, in order.

    6 ) Cox: Forensic experts are paid more, by the prosecutors, for convictions, than in cases they do not advance.

    Reply: It is a disgusting inference that Cox is trying to make, as the interview confirms.

    What Cox,, intentionally, left out.

    Both the prosecution and the defense may hire their own forensic experts and, often, do. If the forensics is a positive, then the forensic expert will have full report which will be presented to both prosecution and defense and may very well require that forensics expert to testify at trial, which requires preparation time, as well, which, of course, raised the payments to the expert.

    I think we are all, inclusive of Cox, well aware.

    If the expert is a state or county employee they will, most likely, not get more than their regular salary. But any non governmental expert, with prosecution and/or defense, may be paid a lot more, in that circumstance, as we all know.

    If the forensics is negative, a simple report will be made and there will be no prep for testimony nor any testimony, and such may even preclude a trial, therefore less costs.

    But . . .

    As we all know, if there are conflicting forensics, there, very well may be a requirement for dueling experts, prosecution vs defense, at trial, which, if not governmental, the experts will both require pre trial prep, as well as testimony time, significantly raising costs for both sides, as we all know.

    I don’t put moral/ethical malfeasance out of the reach of some folks in any line of work. No one does.

    But in many cases, there is an honest, obvious reason why a positive or negative hit in forensics must result in more payment. As most professionals know, you’ll make a lot more money if your always right.

    All of which Cox avoided, even though fully aware. Aren’t we all? How else would it work?

  10. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:16 PM

    7) Cox: The death penalty is arbitrary in nature

    Reply: The opposite is the fact.

    None of the following are in dispute

    The death penalty/execution:

    1) applies to the fewest criminal cases, by far
    2) is pursued, as a sanction, far less
    3) Have greater review and consideration, by prosecutors, before a decision is made.
    4) have, by far, the greatest of due process protections, pre trial, trial, appeals and within executive review of pardons or commutation, over any other sanction
    5) have, by far, the greatest concentrations of judicial and legal considerations of any specific sanction
    6) is the only sanction which requires appeals, in all jurisdictions
    7) has only one other possible sanction option, LWOP, in all jurisdictions, when many other cases can have from probation all the way to life – much more arbitrary and capricious, by a huge margin.
    8) requires two defense counsels, in most jurisdictions
    9) the top prosecutors, most often, are assigned these cases
    10) because of all of the above, the truly innocent, are better protected, at all stages, in death penalty cases than in any other

    All of the above are the definition of the least arbitrary and the least capricious of all criminal cases, as is obvious.

  11. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:19 PM

    8) Cox: People with means are not getting the death penalty

    Reply: Untrue.

    About 99.8% of “poor” murderers do not get the death penalty.

    It is, totally, up to one’s definition of “rich” and ‘poor” as to whether the “rich” are MORE OR LESS LIKELY, than 0,2%, to get the death penalty or to be executed, based upon the fact that a minute number and percentage of capital murderers are “rich”, defined as having a net worth of $1 million or more, and the overwhelming number and percentage of capital murderers are “poor”, defined as those with a net worth of $20,000 or less.

    Robbery/murder is, by far, the most common capital murder. Not many rich folks found on the perp side.

    Because of better counsel, do I believe that wealthy capital murderers have a better chance of avoiding the death penalty and/or executions than poor capital murderers? Absolutely.

    Here is an extensive review of this topic, inclusive of rich and middle class murderers sent to death row and/or executed.

    Is There Class Disparity with Executions?

  12. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:24 PM

    9) Cox: Only 2% of counties have the majority of death penalty cases

    Reply: Cox’s implication is that location, randomly, determines where death penalty case are sought.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    By far, the greatest concentration of both populations and violent crimes are within major cities, as everyone, including Cox, are very much aware and those major population centers are within a tiny percentage of our counties,

    There are 3144 counties (aka as parishes & others), in the US.

    If we look at the 2% of the counties, with the highest number of death penalty convictions in death penalty states, I suspect we will be in the ballpark of having a majority (51%) of the nations capital murders,in death penalty states, with the greatest variable in executions, caused by the judges, the case managers.

    The idiotic study Cox is quoting INCLUDED NON DEATH PENALTY STATES.

    In 2002, the 75 largest counties had 51% of murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 61% of robberies and 36% of forcible rapes, nationally (1), which is in the ballpark of 60-70% of what we know as capital, death penalty eligible murders, inclusive of robbery/murders, rape/murders, police murders, multiple and serial murders, in death penalty eligible counties.

    75 is 2.4% of all counties, both death penalty eligible and not.In other words, we should expect that 2% of US DEATH PENALTY counties would account for 51% of the executions.

    Cox missed the obvious, as did many.

    Other than violence, the most significant variable, with executions, is whether the judges are pro law or anti death penalty, as detailed:

    Judges Responsible For Grossly Uneven Executions


  13. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:27 PM

    10) Cox: The attorneys in 1 out of 4 death penalty cases, in Texas, had been disbarred or disciplined.

    Reply: How many of those were disbarred or disciplined because of their work on a death penalty case?

    I am aware of 1 disbarment because of malfeasance in a Texas death penalty case, a prosecutor, out of 1400 or so death penalty trials – an attorney can be disciplined for being delinquent in paying their bar dues.

    I have never researched this, but have, now, contacted the discipline office of the Texas State Bar and will get back to this.

    • Dudley Sharp on 08/31/2019 at 3:31 PM

      10) contd

      The Texas State Bar does not track this.

      I have only found 1 death penalty case resulting in disbarment of a lawyer because of malfeasance in that case.

  14. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 4:34 PM

    11) Cox: we know the death penalty is not a deterrent

    Reply:  No you (we) don’t.

    Deterrence, Death Penalties & Executions

    Nobel Prize Laureate (Economics) Gary Becker:“the evidence of a variety of types — not simply the quantitative evidence — has been enough to convince me that capital punishment does deter and is worth using for the worst sorts of offenses.” (NY Times, 11/18/07)

    “(Becker) is the most important social scientist in the past 50 years (NY Times, 5/5/14)1)

    What we know

    The deterrent effect of severe sanctions and severe negative incentives has never been negated and cannot be.

    The evidence that some are deterred is overwhelming (1). The evidence that none are deterred is non existent (1).

    We have undisputed evidence that some have confirmed they were deterred from committing murders because of the threat of the death penalty/executions (1).

    This is known as individual deterrence. By fact and reason, individual deterrence cannot exist without general deterrence.

    If, still, unsure of deterrence, there are these risks:

    Absent the death penalty/executions, we risk sacrificing more innocent lives.

    With the death penalty/executions, we “risk” saving more innocent lives.

    Pick your risk.much more, here:

    Deterrence, Death Penalties & Executions 

    • Dudley Sharp on 09/13/2019 at 5:46 PM

      11 contd

      Anti death penalty must, falsely, negate deterrence, because its presence shows that they wish to spare more murderers lives at a cost of more innocents murdered.

      It is, impossible, to negate the deterrent effect of the death penalty/executions, as with all severe sanctions and severe negative incentives., with all the evidence very one sided, that death is feared more than life and life preferred over death, with all knowing what we fear more deters more and what we prfer more deters less.


  15. Dudley Sharp on 08/24/2019 at 5:01 PM

    12) Cox: The death penalty is $750,000- $1 million more than a life without parole case.

    Reply: My educated case is that Cox has not vetted any of the costs studies and she has no clue. Ask her.

    Let’s see.

    a) Many LWOP cases will be more costly than death penalty cases.

    The most expensive criminal case in history was a non death penalty case.

    In the infamous McMartin Pre-school case, pretrial to end of trial lasted nearly 7 years, 1984-1990, and ” . . . cost the government around $15 million, becoming the longest and most expensive legal case of all time.” at

    or about $34 million in today’s dollars.

    All the defendants were acquitted. There maximum sentences could have been life.

    b) Take a look at the costs in California and Texas. It will make you wonder what cost studies Cox failed to vet, if she vetted any.

    Saving Costs with The Death Penalty

    c) Plea bargains to life without parole only exist because of the death penalty.

    The cost savings of such a plea can be most of the cost of pre trial, all of trial and appeals costs, all of which accrue as a cost benefit to the death penalty side of the ledger.

    Depending upon how many LWOP pleas there are, the death penalty could be a net savings over LWOP cases that go to trial.

    No study looked at that, even though it is obvious.

    d) Without the death penalty, all LWOP sentences require a trial, increasing the net cost of LWOP.

    No study looked at that, even though obvious.

    e) With only LWOP as the most severe sanction, all pleas will be parole eligible or less than life.

    We should wonder if the cost to justice is too high to offer parole eligibility in cases that we, previously, would not have.

    f) Since 1976, Virginia has executed 113 murderers, within 7 years of appeals, on average, prior to execution.

    Good management matters.

    If Virginia can do it, all death penalty jurisdictions can, virtually, guaranteeing that full death penalty costs will cost less than full LWOP costs, which various states, likely, already are, as detailed.

    g) Lifers will have about 45 years of incarceration, with

    — some appeals lasting for 45 years
    — some maximum security cells cost as much as $174,000 per year, per inmate (see California)
    — and with geriatric care costs beginning at ages 50-55, for prisoners, the costs are catastrophic for 22 of those 45 years.

    h) Older prisoners (2005 and 2011) cost 3-9 times more than younger prisoners. (1,2).

    Sharp: That being $90,000 – $270,000 per inmate per year more.

    1. Human Rights Watch. Old Behind Bars: The Aging Prison Population in the United States.Human Rights Watch; Jan 27, 2012.

    2. American Civil Liberties Union. At America’s Expense: The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly. American Civil Liberties Union; New York, NY: Jun, 2012

    .h) If death row costs more, no death row is necessary. Neither Missouri nor Kansas have one. High security cells work fine.

  16. Dudley Sharp on 08/25/2019 at 1:26 PM

    I just found the costs the costs for the Oklahoma City Bombing case – $82.5 million

    There were two cases One McVeigh’s was a death penalty case, Nichols was not.

    McVeigh’s defense alone was $15 million

    The travel expenses for the investigation exceeded the defense costs.

    I don’t know how to break down the separation of costs for both cases, but, no matter how you look at it, it is way more expensive than the McMartin case.

    The 82.5 million is about $137 million in today’s dollars. I’ll randomly apply 80% of that to McVeigh’s case, so

    $110 million

    • Dudley Sharp on 09/13/2019 at 2:52 PM

      About 99% of death penalty cases are state cases. McVeigh’s was a fed, McMartin was state.

  17. Dudley Sharp on 08/26/2019 at 3:24 PM

    13) Cox: The death penalty does not protect the integrity of human life.

    Reply: If using a biblical timeline, there is about 5000 years of overwhelming teachings which support that the respect of human dignity and for innocent life is the foundation for executing guilty murderers.

    as detailed:

    Critical Dismay: The Catholic Church’s Latest (2018-19)
    Death Penalty Catechism Amendment

  18. Dudley Sharp on 08/26/2019 at 4:06 PM

    14) Cox: It is perverse that the prosecutor states that, in a criminal case, the crime is against the state, not the victim

    Rebuttal: As appears the norm for Cox, this reflects willful ignorance.

    It is requires for the criminal law to have such a foundation. The laws are a social contract between the state and the people, providing governance and sanction, within the due process of law, which, obviously, requires wrongdoers to answer to the state, within the law and due process.

    That is was law, due process and the social contract mean. Cox is clueless.

    All prosecutors understand that, just as the understand and must work with victims and victim survivors in all cases. In most death penalty cases, the stories of the victims and victim survivors are crucial to a death sentences, as Cox, evidently, is unaware.

    Prosecutors listen to victims and victim survivors, but, ultimately, it has to be left up to the prosecutor, as I think most of us are aware. Some prosecutors are more inclined to victims than others. Most criminal defense counsel are inclined toward guilty criminals or, as they would say, towards due process.

    If victims and victim survivors decided the prosecution, we would be looking at hundreds of thousands sent to death row in the past 40 years, not 8700.

    The past 42 years of jurisprudence has, hugely, limited death penalty prosecutions and Cox says we should let victim survivors, not prosecutors, make that decision.

    Does anyone believe that? Of course not. Cox will say anything, even when it makes zero sense.

    In the US, btw, if you want to make it personal, it’s done in civil court That’s why it’s there.

  19. Dudley Sharp on 08/26/2019 at 4:27 PM

    15) Cox: There is not a strong biblical case for the death penalty

    Rebuttal: Truly absurd.

    Through today and for more than 2000 years, there has been Christian New Testament support for the death penalty, from Popes, Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, church leadership, biblical scholars and theologians that, in breadth and depth, overwhelms any teachings to the contrary.

    Mainstream Christianity did not start official death penalty opposition until the late 1950’s, with the Catholic Church not fully abandoning the death penalty until 2019.

    Did the bible and 2000 years of solid theology, suddenly, change in in 1950’s and 2019? Of course not. It is absurd.

    About 400 references, here, and within the links

    New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming

  20. Dudley Sharp on 08/26/2019 at 5:29 PM

    16) Cox recommends podcasts, documentaries, true crime dramas, tv shows, movies, etc., to pull the curtain back and show us how badly things really are in the criminal justice system. 

    Reply: You should ONLY rely of the judicial opinions in the case, which reviews the claims of both sides, prior to making decisions. 

    Many of Cox’s recommended viewings are as bad as she is with regard to fact and reason and only present one side – just as many of us are well aware with newspaper and TV news being just as bad. 

    I doubt there is anyone who is unaware, inclusive of Cox. 

    One of very many examples: 

    Rebuttal: “Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?”

  21. Dan on 08/30/2019 at 4:17 AM

    Anyone arguing that the government has any authority to kill people is a big government, bootlicking, copsucking Statist. It really is that simple. The State has no authority over the live of sovereign individual human beings- it is an authoritarian parasite that extorts the wealth of the private productive class in order to beat, cage, and kill any who would oppose it. It has no moral authority, no legal authority, no just authority. It is a robber, rapist, and murderer. That is it. And anyone pleading for it to have any more power to justify killing people is an idiot or a slave.

    • Dudley Sharp on 08/31/2019 at 4:14 PM


      No, it is a bit more complicated than that. We just disagree.

      The social contract must have governance, as long as humankind has guilty aggressors preying upon innocent non -aggressors, which has always and will always be the case.

      It is that simple and true, as history records.

      Without democratic governance, within criminal justice, anarchy rules, with unjustifiable aggression overwhelming the innocent.

      It is that simple and true and is what will and has occurred with your description of what you prefer, when only individuals decide what they will and will not do, with zero social governance.

  22. Jason Maher on 08/30/2019 at 7:49 AM

    Christians are required to obey God, and God Himself commanded the death penalty for murder in Genesis 9:6. This was a command to all humanity through Noah, not specifically to Israel through Moses, and so has not been superseded by the New Covenant. There is certainly nowhere in the New Testament that gives any hint of God rescinding the command He gave to Noah, and there is more than one place where the power of the sword is acknowledged. Indeed, in the oft discussed Romans 13, it is the one power specifically mentioned as belonging to civil government, in order to restrain evil.

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