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The Class of '72

Laura Anthony of KGO (ABC, San Fran.) has this story on Dennis Stanworth, one of the killers freed from death row after the temporary judicial abolition of the death penalty in 1972.  As noted in posts here and here, Stanworth subsequently killed his own mother.

In 1966 Stanworth was sentenced to death for the brutal kidnapping, rape and murder of two 15-year-old Pinole teens, Caree Collison and Susan Box. Their family members are still haunted by the crime.

"He had them strip and Caree ran and he yelled at her if you don't come back, I'm going to kill your friend. She came back and he shot her in the head," a family member said.
*                                           *                                       *

Besides Stanworth, the group included Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, who murdered Robert Kennedy in 1968. Manson and Sirhan were not released, but Stanworth and 50 others were eventually set free.

Among them was Robert Massie, who was convicted of murder in 1965 and sentenced to death. In 1978 he was paroled; eight months later, he murdered a San Francisco liquor store owner. In 2001, after the death penalty was reinstated, Massie was executed.

"Even if they're rehabilitated, they've already done something that can't be undone," Parents of Murdered Children spokesperson misty Foster said. "Those people are never coming back, so how do say their life is only worth 20 or 25 years?"

The anti-death-penalty advocate's statement is typically smug and self-superior:

"I think it's hard for the public to grasp this," UC Berkeley Death Penalty Clinic Director Elisabth Semel said. "People who've been convicted of murder have a better rate of success, that is a lower recidivism rate, than individuals who commit other types of crimes."
I am really sick of this "we are soooooo much smarter than the ignorant yokels who favor the death penalty" attitude.  The public grasps it very well.  It is not about numbers.  Given that a murderer deserves death for a particularly heinous murder, any risk at all of recidivism is too much.


From the Class of '76
{i.e. 1776)

"The punishment for murder has undergone no alteration, either by Moses or
by Christ…ordinances being mutable, but the moral law always the same."
~~1st Chief Justice John Jay

(The Correspondence & Public Papers of John Jay, letters to John Murray
1816-1818, Henry Johnston, editor, 1893)


Kenneth McDuff is, likely, I hope, the most notorious of those released in the class of '72.

He was, originally, on death for murdering 3 children.

After his release, based upon the incorrect Furman decision of '72 and after multiple parole violations, for which DcDuff served almost not time, he murdered/tortured an additional 7-14 women. We'll never know the real number and none, who knew McDuff, doubt that the numbers could be higher.

I have little doubt that bribes were paid for McDuff's paroles.

Please review this chilling, thorough article on McDuff and those who so wanted to release him.


and, from John Murray:

"Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life."

"... it is this same atrophy of moral fiber 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 merit." (Page 122 of Principles of Conduct).

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I posted the McDuff and Murray posts, above.

Dudley Sharp

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