Source: American Journal of Sociology
Source type: journal
Document type: note
Document title: “Abolition of the Death-Penalty”
Author(s): H., E. C.
Date of publication: July 1902
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 1
|H., E. C. “Abolition of the Death-Penalty.” American Journal of Sociology July 1902 v8n1: pp. 143-44.|
|death penalty (abolition); anarchism (legal penalties).|
|Hans Gross; Ernst Lohsing.|
|The identity of Goldfield (referred to below) is unknown.|
Abolition of the Death-Penalty
In the Archiv für Kriminal-Anthropologie und
Kriminalistik, 9. Bd., 2. Heft, Ernst Lohsing has an article on “Abschaffung
der Todesstrafe.” Professor Hans Gross, editor of this publication, in its seventh
volume had maintained that to put to death anarchists who have attempted assassination
is to help them in the direction of their desire to die in the glory of martyrdom,
while taking along a mighty companion to the shades. He accordingly argued that,
if not for all classes of criminals, at least for anarchistic assassins the
death-penalty should be abolished.
Upon this proposition the present writer makes two comments: (1) The criminal has no right to punishment. Punishment is meant to be without the will or against the will of the criminal. Yet, as in the case of tramps who steal in order to he housed and fed in jail through the winter, crime may have punishment as its aim. (2) But if the above suggestion regarding anarchists were adopted, then any murderer who wished to escape the death-penalty would need only to make it appear that he was an anarchist aspiring to martyrdom. The writer nevertheless welcomes the reopening of the question of abolition of the death-penalty. There are cases in which the inno-  cent are condemned. Indeed, as Goldfield remarks, “earthly justice must let fall her sword if she could condemn only in cases of absolute certainty, for witnesses may lie, documents be false, confessions untrue, circumstances misleading.”
At the close of this article the editor reiterates his belief that the death-penalty is unjust, antiquated, and dangerous to public weal.