Capital Punishment and The Pennsylvania Prison Society

Published date01 April 1973
AuthorRendell A. Davis
Date01 April 1973
DOI10.1177/003288557305300107
Subject MatterArticles
72
Capital
Punishment
and
The
Pennsylvania
Prison
Society
By
Rendell
A.
Davis
The
debate
on
capital
punishment
is
not
a
ncw
one.
William
Penn,
Dr.
Benjamin
Rush,
and
William
Br-1dl’<>rd
all
spoke
and
wrotc
in
opposition
to
the
death
penalty
during
the
eighteen
ccntury.
In
1796,
in
Stephen’s
Philadelphia
Directory,
Thc
Pennsyl-
vania
Prison
Society
(then
known
as
The
Society
tor
Alleviating
the
Miseries
of
Public
Prisons),
commenting
on
an
anlclldlncllt
to
the
penal
code
of
the
Commonwealth,
stated
that:
&dquo;The
punishment
of
death
ought
never
to
be
inflicted
when
it
is
not
absolutely
necessary;
there-
fore
that
punishment
is
abolished
in
all
cases
except
for
murder
of
the
first
degree.&dquo;
The
Society
went
on
to
speak
of
the
inconsistencies
of
punishmcnt
in
the
past,
&dquo;...a
petty
scoundrel
is
often
condemned
to
the
gallows
for
a
theft,
a
forgery
of
a
few
pounds,
where-
as
a
more
cunning
rascal,
after
a
few
months,
or
perhaps
weeks
confinement,
is
set
at
liberty
with
vast
property
which
he
has
swindled
from
thousands,
and
again
commences
his
devastations
on
society.&dquo;
_
Finally,
they
concluded,
&dquo;In
Pennsylvania
things
of
this
sort
can
no
longer
happen;
life
can
only
be
forfeited
for
life;
and it is
probable
that
the
time
is
not
far
distant,
whcn
naankind
becoming
more
humanc,
tvill
even
Ù¡
i
this
case
not
dare
to
deprive
a
fellow
creature
of
that
God
alone
catt
give&dquo;.
(Italics
mine.)
Presentation
by
Rendell
A,
Davis,
Executive
Director.
Pennsylvania
Prison
Society,
to
’I’he
Governor’s
Study
Commissiun
on
Capital
pzmishmcnt-
Philadelphia,
Pa., June
29,
1973

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT