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Martin Grossman

The following post was written by a lawyer who wishes to use the moniker “Jew for Justice”

You can not go more than 10 feet in the Orthodox Jewish community without bumping into a poster or hearing an announcement about the efforts to save Martin Grossman’s life. As a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, and as someone who has spent years working on behalf of death row inmates and someone who is very much against the death penalty as practiced, this massive effort on his behalf sickens me.

I am going to break this argument down into parts so that people can follow it and then address the points I make if they so desire:

1) The death penalty as practiced in the USA is racist and ineffective. There are three main arguments that are made in favor of the death penalty: (a) that it is a deterrent against future crime, (b) that we should not have to pay to keep someone in jail for life and (c) that it fills some need in society for justice/revenge/closure. If these arguments were borne out by the reality then I would probably favor some use of the death penalty. However, many studies have shown that the death penalty has no deterrent effect and that it costs much more to execute someone than it would to keep them in prison for life. Now, advocates of the death penalty would claim that the only reason it costs so much to execute someone is because we give them so many appeals and so much procedural due process. However, we do live in a country that operates on the maxim “better ten guilty go free than one innocent get punished” and therefore it is especially appropriate when imposing the highest form of punishment which has such finality that we do everything we can to ensure that we are not punishing someone who is innocent or undeserving. In terms of the argument that this fills the need for justice, studies have shown that there is little correlation between the people who are executed and the heinous nature of their crime as compared to other similarly situated criminals. The death penalty is really just a punishment for being poor and black, not for committing the most terrible crimes.† The death penalty tends to also be used differently in different parts of the country, so the area where you go to trial is a huge factor in determining of whether or not the prosecutor will seek and get the death penalty (even on the federal level – so it goes beyond whether or not the state has the death penalty). In addition, although the Supreme Court has ruled that individuals with Mental Retardation are not eligible for the death penalty, there are many people on death row right now that arguably may fit the definition of being mentally retarded (especially once the Flynn effect is applied to the score.† For example, Martin Grossman’s score of 77 may be within the range of mental retardation, which for all intents and purposes starts at 75 once you allow for the standard error of measurement, after accounting for the Flynn effect. The court system tends to not be on the forefront of the scientific literature and research in this matter. In addition, even people who may be able to make a good case for MR based on adaptive behavior and IQ scores are† not given the chance because of procedural bars to their making a successor 2255/2254 habeas corpus petition. The standards and time lines have been tightened considerably under the AEDPA (Anti-terrorism and effective death penalty act).† Many poor convicts had little or no effective representation both at the time of trial and throughout the state and federal appeals process. Often times there was little effort made to put on an effective mitigation case until much too late, and factors which would have influenced the jury’s decision (such as possible mental illness, dysfunctional childhood, etc) are never presented to them. Racial factors are also at play in many prosecutions in the USA. The end result is that people with resources and white people will often manage to avoid getting the death penalty even if their crimes were much more heinous and deserving of the ultimate punishment. Does a system that works in such a manner serve the need for justice and retribution? This is why people like Alan Dershowitz, who has made statements which are quoted on all the Martin Grossman advocacy websites, are so against the death penalty.

2) Therefore, any Jewish person should be anti-death penalty and should advocate and work to prevent any and all executions. So why do I think its gross that all this effort is put forth for someone who seems to present a good case for clemency? Because it is just another situation where Jewish people seem to think that the rules and regulations which are good enough for the rest of the world should not be applied to them. Martin Grossman is not being helped because he is the most deserving but because he is Jewish. I know of many poor black people on death row who are more deserving of help. Will all of these Jewish people donate money and work to save them? No they wont. Because, at the risk of being incredibly offensive “who cares about a schvartzah that killed some people – let them fry”. This is the attitude that I usually get in shuls and yeshivos when I discuss the death penalty. But, Martin Grossman is a Jew. And Jews don’t deserve to get the death penalty! I think that the massive mobilization on his behalf is viewed by the public as a chillul hashem and a desire for special treatment and will backfire. And when he is executed, as he unfortunately probably will be, all of these Jewish people will move on and not pay any attention to the injustice that the death penalty represents in this country.

Now, I know that many Jewish people will try to argue that this case is somehow unique or that we have a special obligation to help our own. I will attribute the first of those arguments to the fundamental attribution error – when Jews steal, when Jews are caught in Japan smuggling drugs, when frum people sell kidneys or otherwise commit fraud, all the advocates come out of the woodwork and proclaim innocence, mitigating factors, naivety, etc. When non-jews commit such crimes there is little sympathy for them in the Orthodox Community and people tend to attribute their bad behavior to fault of their own. As far as the special obligation to help our own – I agree, but you need to pick your battles. There are many people suffering and I do not believe that we should be raising money and advocating and irking the general public for something like this (or, even worse, the criminal actions of the Rubashkin family).

We live in a country with a great, albeit imperfect, justice system. We live in a country that affords us more protections, more rights and more respect than almost any other country in the history of the world. There are issues that can be worked on and areas that can be improved, but I suggest that we focus on out internal behaviors and internal flaws and direct community money and efforts in that direction. I also suggest that when we attempt to work on greater problems in society, like the injustice of the death penalty, we don’t do it as Jews but as American citizens who happen to be Jewish. This will be much more effective and will not raise the spectre of undue influence and disparate treatment.

{ 171 comments… add one }
  • Appreciative February 17, 2010, 12:20 AM

    Thank you for posting The Truth. I hope people will see the light from this.

    Amazing post.

  • MissShona February 17, 2010, 12:23 AM

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post; I could not agree more! Yasher koach! ūüôā

    • Michael Shemano February 19, 2010, 1:57 PM

      you whore you slut you pritzusdika shiksa

      • Anonymous February 21, 2010, 5:45 AM


  • Alex February 17, 2010, 12:26 AM

    I believe that even if a jew had taken the life another jew, and was subsequently facing execution as a result of his crime, there would have been the same expression of opposition to the death penalty. There is no double standard. Capital punishment, in talmudic days, was carried out very rarely. Numerous conditions and stipulations had to be fulfilled before an execution was carried out. Obviously, a jew tends to speak out more when a jew is being executed because there is a shared bond, as is the case with all ethnicities.

    If you research this case more – the recanted testimony of Charles Brewer – you will see something wrong and crooked with the way the prosecution went about this case.

    • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 12:44 AM

      I never made any remark about the ethnicity of the victim so you mentioning your conjectures about that does not address or refute my point in any manner. I dont think the sympathy for Martin Grossman is because he didnt kill another Jew but rather because he himself is Jewish.

      I fully agree that this case, like many others, raises serious issues. However, I have not seen any statement anywhere to the effect of Martin Grossman proclaiming his own innocence. Can you point me to any article that you have in that vein, I would really appreciate it. Because the recanted testimony wouldnt mean much unless there was an actual innocence claim put forward. Prosecutors are often disgusting and unethical but that doesnt mean that in every case in which they act in that manner the person accused is innocent. I do agree that procedurally we need to “punish” the prosecutors for their errors by letting the criminal go free so that we dont reward such behavior and encourage it in the future. However, when dealing with whether or not there is a gross miscarriage of justice it does matter whether the person in making an actual innocence claim. My understanding is that Martin Grossman was more of an appeal for clemency based on mitigating factors in his background and the nature of the crime.

  • MissShona February 17, 2010, 12:37 AM


    With the Torah as our guide, Jews are actually not the same as others; we should have a heightened sensitivity to all of Hashem’s creations and all of his people. Why must we be drawn down to ethnic-favoritism pettiness? Not to mention that Jews are not a simple ‘ethnicity’ (sorry to get hung up on semantics here).

    I would rally behind Jews looking to eradicate the death penalty in general; not only for one Jew who we have no place to judge as guilty or innocent either way.

  • Finally February 17, 2010, 12:42 AM

    For the last week, I’ve been bombarded via email, news, Facebook, Twitter about this situation. And never once did I hear anyone argue the points you did so effectively. This is the only time I’ve walked away without feeling beyond horrified and disgusted.

  • Lakewood February 17, 2010, 12:49 AM

    I have read quite a few comments on VIN about this and most share the underlying theme of cynically twisting their views on the death penalty because the killer is our own.This hypocrisy is nauseating.I thought I was immune to the stupidity of my community but this huge orchestrated effort to spare the life of a Piece of sh*t like Grossman is truly f*cked up .If I were a non -Jew following these efforts and reading these comments I would probably start hating Jews.I saw a few comments calling for Governor Crists death,comments rationalizing what Grossman did because “he was about to go back to jail”,comments blaming the “anti-semitic Government” and tons of other revolting opinions. All I can say is we as a community are screwed.

    • Lakewood February 17, 2010, 12:53 AM

      Just saw this truly sick comment on Vin: “Kudsha Brich Hu wanted Martin next to HIM”

      /what the flying f*ck????

    • Michael Shemano February 19, 2010, 1:59 PM

      burn in hell you jew hater

    • Anonymous February 22, 2010, 8:55 PM

      You clearly already do hate Jews.

      • Lakewood March 2, 2010, 12:09 AM


  • E. Fink February 17, 2010, 1:06 AM

    Great post. I hope you continue to submit guest posts!

    You raise good points about the inequity of the death penalty. I actually wrote about this from a Rabbi / law student perspective on my blog a few months ago. It generated quite a discussion across multiple blogs. It is my belief that it is immoral for a government to kill its own criminal citizens when they could be incapacitated in prison. You can read the post on my blog: A Moral Argument Against the Death Penalty.

    In addition the issue of tribalism is valid. But should be noted, it is natural. We all care for our own more than we care for people whom we do not know. I wrote about this also when I found people had different reactions to a tragedy when they found out the victims were Jewish. You can read about that in this post on my blog: What is the Appropriate Reaction. The thing is, we all strive to care about everybody, but we all start with the people closest to us. Martin Grossman was our brother and it is fair for us to care more about him than other inmates on death row. But I think it is imperative that those whose knee-jerk reaction was to support the death penalty and other potentially discriminative doctrines saw the “other side” of the issue and opposed the death penalty for Martin Grossman NOT forget how they felt and continue to oppose the death penalty for everyone, not just our own.

    • Meir February 17, 2010, 1:13 AM

      Hey, I’d be happy if frum Jews were to oppose the death penalty for everyone solely as a stop-gap to prevent execution of other Jews.

      • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 1:47 AM

        Please read this comment back to yourself and see whether it strikes you are offensive.

        • Meir February 17, 2010, 10:46 AM

          Oh, my hope would obviously be that this whole thing would cause anyone upset by it to rethink their views on the death penalty entirely.

          However, if it would help end the death penalty (or restrict it severely to say, Tim McVeigh or more unconscionable) in this country, I’m perfectly okay if the rationale behind it is something I might find distasteful.

          As for the comment being offensive, yes, it’s definitely an offensive sentiment, and it shows how jaded my opinions are that I would potentially ascribe such a view. My point was just the ends justify the means sort of thing.

          • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 10:53 AM

            I apologize, I misunderstood what you were saying. I thought that you were saying that you are happy when people oppose the death penalty in general because the end result would be that no Jews would be executed and if that is what it takes to prevent the execution of Jews than so be it. What you were saying is actually the polar opposite.

            I would agree with you, but I will state that most of the people writing and advocating on his behalf view him as a special case and still support the death penalty for everyone else. Critical thinking was not employed much in this case.

  • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 1:28 AM

    some proof as to the negative impact of this, from an article reposted on VIN no less!


    This article also mentions the fact that Grossman takes responsibility – ie, admits he actually did it – which kind of makes the Jewish community look foolish for harping on the recanted testimony.

  • Bassy February 17, 2010, 1:45 AM

    I don’t agree with you on capital punishment at all, but I do agree with you on your point that Jews are being hypocritical for wanting to spare Grossman’s life while screaming for the death of guilty non Jews. That is just wrong. Thank you for writing such an intelligent post. Believe me, after the stuff I’ve read tonight, it’s a breath of fresh air, and I never thought I’d be saying that to someone who is anti-death penalty!

    It’s so embarrassing, such a chillul Hashem, and is making me want to leave Orthodox practice quite honestly. I am beyond embarrassed by these lunatics.

    And E. Fink, let me just say, it doesn’t matter what is “natural.” We Jews are SUPPOSED to be a light unto the nations, and lead by example, and take the higher road, remember? That means that we are supposed to uphold moral law for everyone, including our own. To do less is to invite the well-deserved animosity of the world.

    • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 1:50 AM

      Bassy: Thank you for the comment, reading some of the posts on this topic on VIN or YWN is enough to make anyone want to leave the fold.

      I would love for you to explain why you disagree with my point about the death penalty not being effective. I am always curious as to why people would be pro death penalty and would greatly appreciate any insight that you may have. If you could clearly identify why you think any or all of my arguments against the effectiveness of the death penalty are flawed or incorrect, that would be very much appreciated too. Thanks!

      • Bassy February 17, 2010, 2:45 AM

        I agree with you that the death penalty is meted out unfairly, for a variety of reasons that you stated (perhaps prejudice, perhaps subjectivity of the jury/judge, perhaps regional norms, perhaps bad defense, etc). Rather than do away with the death penalty, I would try to make sentencing more consistent. I know I’ll sound like a bloodthirsty freak here, but basically it comes down to this: kill more, not less, then do some studies and I’ll revisit the issue based on the new data.

        As to the deterrent aspect, I am not yet convinced that it is not a deterrent, but let’s assume it is not. I wonder if it is not a deterrent because it is not meted out consistently. A criminal knows that he can commit murder and will most likely NOT be put to death for it. I just read a statistic that only 1% of death row inmates are actually ever executed. Of course it’s not a deterrent under these circumstances. But if it were more of a sure deal, I believe it absolutely would make a few criminals think twice.

        Execution of a criminal does prevent him from committing more crimes and taking more victims or more lives. Too many inmates get out on parole, even after committing heinous crimes, even after serving a tiny fraction of their sentence. It happens. So even if the fear of the death penalty is not a deterrent to a first crime, the death penalty itself does become an absolute deterrent to subsequent crimes.

        I believe that if more criminals were given very harsh sentences with NO chance of parole, you would see fewer of us clamoring for the death penalty. There is a perception out there, and I think it’s an accurate one, that a significant percentage of criminals are not removed from society effectively.

        Instead of focusing your arguments on the injustice of capital punishment, you might win more converts if you shifted focus to supporting longer sentences with no parole, ever. Start being a strong voice for crime control and criminal lock-up instead of a voice for kindness and mercy to criminals. People are afraid, and they should be. Appeal to their fears rather than to their conscience. (But don’t make empty promises or be deceptive, cause that would be wrong.)

        Costs: the lengthy appeal process needs to stop. There needs to be an agreed upon period of time for this to occur and if it fails to occur in that time, too bad, so sad. Living for 25 years (or more) after being given a death sentence is not a death sentence. That’s not fair to the victim.

        I believe with the use of DNA and advanced forensic technology and expertise, we can now be pretty sure who’s guilty in most cases.

        Lastly, while I don’t personally think there is anything wrong with revenge (one author called it “wild justice”), I think it’s disingenous to paint death penalty advocates as merely vengeful. After all, if I were really vengeful, I’d be pushing for a lifetime sentence of daily torture of the most unimaginable kind! That would be a sick revenge, not healthy for anyone. I support the death penalty because I want dangerous criminals to be gone from this earth, for good, forever. I want their evil spirit to be extinguished so that their energy is not floating around, and not influencing younger criminals who are not yet so hardened and who might have a chance to turn their lives around. Our prisons are overcrowded as it is, and a swifter death penalty would make more room for less violent/dangerous criminals.

        A life sentence is also not that reassuring when you look at Haiti’s earthquake and how it toppled the prison there, leaving criminals free to scurry off like so many cockroaches! Scary. I would be afraid that murderers would somehow find a way to escape or would be released.

        I don’t believe that ALL killers should necessarily get the death penalty. I do believe there must be certain considerations. I am not an attorney so this is admittedly an uneducated response — but basically I would ask whether the killer was a risk to others or not. A law abiding family man who kills his neighbor whom he caught molesting his child – he should surely be punished to discourage vigilantism but I wouldn’t kill him. He is not a risk to society (unless you rape his child). A serial killer, a mass murderer, a terrorist, a sadist who tortures and rapes, a child killer, a cop killer — these are the ones who are scary and who should “be gone.”

        Hope that answered your question.

        • Frumsatire Fan February 17, 2010, 11:01 AM

          kill more, not less, then do some studies and Iíll revisit the issue based on the new data

          Wwwwwhat? No, rather than bloodthirsty freak you sound like the Evil Scientist type. You realize that what you propose is, basically, experimenting with human lives. Maybe I’ve got you wrong, but it strikes me as pretty sick.

        • RK February 18, 2010, 12:21 PM

          Execution of a criminal does prevent him from committing more crimes and taking more victims or more lives. Too many inmates get out on parole, even after committing heinous crimes, even after serving a tiny fraction of their sentence. It happens.

          All states but one have life without the possibility of parole. In fact, many of the last few states to implement LWOP were states that make frequent use of the death penalty like Texas (which implemented LWOP last year), presumably because the death penalty would be more popular with juries if there wasn’t an LWOP option.

          As it stands today, though, this is a non-existent concern, though it persists in the popular imagination (as your comment demonstrates). LWOP means the prisoner isn’t getting released.

          • Bassy February 18, 2010, 12:37 PM

            Don’t tell me it exists in my imagination — almost every week I read on the news about some heinous crime committed by an animal who was “out on parole.”

            • RK February 18, 2010, 12:43 PM

              Um, are you suggesting that parole be abolished for all crimes? Yes, some people commit crimes while out on parole. Virtually none of them were paroled for a capital crime. If you commit a capital crime, you’re almost always going to either get death or LWOP.

              And yes, I would suggest that you be wary of facts “everyone knows.” For instance, polls have shown that large majorities of Americans perceive that crime has been increasing for the last several years. In reality, of course, we’ve had one of the sharpest falls in violent crime in history over the last couple of decades.

      • Bassy February 17, 2010, 2:55 AM

        After all that, I forgot to address the common concern about racial prejudice. I would like to know whether it is really true that black men receive the death penalty more often than white men who committed the same type of murder — or whether more black men receive the death penalty because more black men commit murder. We know that blacks have a much higher crime rate, including murder, than whites. Therefore, is it deceptive and misleading to say that blacks receive the death penalty more often?

        • MissShona February 17, 2010, 9:25 AM

          Bassy, you might want to read this article that talks a bit more about the numbers behind “crime statistics”. The majority of prisoners incarcerated are not there for violent crimes. Nevertheless, the word “crime” is very general. Think of “white collar” crime…embezzelment and misuse of public funds. Is that worse or not as bad as selling some ounces of cocaine on the street? If they are in fact equal (as in a crime is a crime) then why are “white collar” criminals less likely to serve “hard time”. A lot has to do with the quality of legal defense that you can afford. A greater percentage of Black Americans are poor. And while being poor does not justify committing crimes, being poor can prevent you from being able to hire your own legal defense. Anyway I could go on and on about this. Let’s just say there is a lot more to those numbers!

          • Bassy February 17, 2010, 12:58 PM

            You’re right about the use of general term “crime.” While crime is an important societal issue that shouldn’t be ignored, I guess my focus is more on violent crime. Most of us can cope with our car being stolen, but a violent rape is a lot harder to bounce back from (not to mention the devastating impact of something like a mutilating assault or murder). Whenever I speak about crime, I’m usually speaking about violent crime, but I will be more careful to note that in the future.

            It’s true that those who can afford a better defense will most likely get a lighter sentence, if not acquitted altogether. I still wonder, though, if we look only at violent crimes — do blacks commit more offenses than whites, and could that be the sole explanation for why they are incarcerated more often and executed more often?

      • FarFrumIt February 17, 2010, 8:18 AM

        “Thank you for the comment, reading some of the posts on this topic on VIN or YWN is enough to make anyone want to leave the fold”
        Goes to show how logical you are. Because a small community of “orthodox” anonymous bloggers write some insulting material, its enough to leave the fold? Oh well, at least you can convince yourself that you’re intellectually honest.

        • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 10:58 AM

          Calm down and read what I said. I said its enough to make any want to leave, not that its enough to actually make someone leave. I hate to say it, but the comments on VIN and YWN are fairly representative of what I hear in shul and in the Orthodox community on a regular basis. Its not just a few people online, its an epidemic. And the bottom line is that if the people who claim to be the strongest adherents to a certain philosophy are gross and unpalatable then why would it be attractive to participate in the lifestyle that they claim to represent? I think that is a fairly logical reaction. I am sick and tired of people saying “those people are not representative of the Jewish population as whole” and “look at Judaism, not the Jews”. Regarding the former – please show me the people who these idiots are not representative of, because they tend to be few and far between. These idiots do represent a very large portion of the Jewish world and at some point you just have to give up and accept that mainstream Charedi Judaism = the commenters on VIN and YWN. Regarding the latter, I think it is perfectly fair to judge the value of a religion and a belief system by the ethics, morals and lifestyle of those who claim to adhere to it. If Jews want Judaism to be attractive they need to start acting in a more attractive manner. That is what kiddush/chillul hashem is all about.

          • Bassy February 17, 2010, 1:08 PM

            I agree with you and thanks for stating it. I have been in the Ortho community for 15 years and these sorts of views are rampant. I visited a seminary in Crown Heights for one week and was treated to a drash on how gentiles have an animal soul and how they do bad things because they don’t have the Torah . . . whereas Jews have a higher soul and even when they do bad things, they are still holy. Blech! I should have turned and run then!

            You don’t see this kind of nonsense perpetuated in Modern Orthodox places of learning (for the most part anyway) and among educated rabbis and rabbanit, there are ways to discuss troubling aspects of our ancient laws and literature without simplistically embracing them.

            Faranek Margolies (sp?) wrote a wonderful book called Off the Derech in which she gently but firmly calls Ortho Jews on the carpet for their immoral thoughts and behaviors. I believe there is another book by a Brooklyn rabbi whose name I cannot remember but I think the book is called Eyes To See. I think he pretty much got blackballed for calling attention to the sins of the haredi community. I plan to find it and read it soon. I need some reassurance that Judaism is still the right place to be!

            I also feel I have to go out into the gentile world and do damage control when stuff like this happens.

    • Lakewood February 17, 2010, 2:10 AM

      Don’t judge Judaism by the Jews and all that…..If you would abandon your beliefs because we’re a community of idiots,what does that say about your intellectual honesty?

      • Bassy February 17, 2010, 2:47 AM

        LOL! Okay, I’m not really sure if you’re being sardonic or serious (or both . . . ) Help!

        • Lakewood February 17, 2010, 3:27 AM

          Huh? I’m serious.

      • OnionSoupMix February 17, 2010, 11:59 PM

        Sure, Lakewood. I won’t judge judaism by the jews when you decide that you won’t judge islam by the muslims.

        Seriously, people say this type of this and it is quite dumb. What else are we supposed to judge a belief system by, if not the behavior of its adherents?

        • Lakewood February 18, 2010, 12:16 AM

          Nice assumption ,I’m from Lakewood,so I’m a typical frummie Neanderthal that hates Islam …alrighty. Judgmental much?

          • Onionsoupmix February 19, 2010, 1:52 AM

            yeah, bad day yesterday. Here are my apologies so please accept them:)

    • E. Fink February 17, 2010, 11:48 AM

      I never said anything that contradicts what you said.

      It is natural to care for own more than others. It is our job to expand the horizons of our concern for our own to care for all.

      (Read the link I posted)

    • Torah Jew February 22, 2010, 9:13 PM

      “Itís so embarrassing, such a chillul Hashem, and is making me want to leave Orthodox practice quite honestly. I am beyond embarrassed by these lunatics. ”

      You are clearly already looking for reasons to leave Orthodox practice. I suggest you stop judging Judaism by the Jews who live life not as the Torah intended, but instead, you focus on living your life the way the Torah intended. If your morals are that weak and shallow that the hypocracy of others – mind you, every human being is a hyprocrite in some way or another, Jewish or not – can drive you away, you don’t stand for very much.

      You can spend your whole life finding reasons why you shouldn’t do something just to justify to yourself why you just don’t want to do something.

  • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 1:55 AM

    I was wondering whether it would pay to set up a website and letter writing campaign for Jews to express their sympathy to the family of his victim.

    • Heshy Fried February 17, 2010, 1:56 AM

      I think that is a great idea

    • Bassy February 17, 2010, 2:46 AM

      I think it’s a great idea too, and I was just trying to find some contact info for the family.

      • OnionSoupMix February 18, 2010, 12:01 AM

        Weirdly, the mother of the victim lives a few blocks from my home. I keep thinking about contacting her and apologizing for all the stupid frummies.

        • Bassy February 18, 2010, 12:39 PM

          Please do. Pleeeeeez . . .
          I would if I could.

        • Torah Jew February 22, 2010, 9:20 PM

          OR you could just apologize for the fact that her child was killed by one of your own, because you are truly sorry for her loss and you feel responsible because all Jews are responsible for one another.

    • MissShona February 17, 2010, 6:02 AM

      I like this idea!

  • SF2K1 February 17, 2010, 2:30 AM

    This is why I am most sick of politics in the Jewish community, because most are too busy filtering information through their presets rather than thinking about an issue. Why is Obama/Bush evil? When you boil down the excuses, it’s because he’s not our party. Who cares that any given person is complicated and usually not fully representative of you or your party?

    The same thing as this issue is the rubashkin case when talking with chabadniks. The cognitive dissonance is astounding. It’s a part of a greater problem in the frum community to limit critical thinking to the gemara.

    • Lakewood February 17, 2010, 2:44 AM

      “Itís a part of a greater problem in the frum community to limit critical thinking to the gemara.”

      That about sums up the biggest problem facing our community.

  • YitzchokAizik February 17, 2010, 3:16 AM

    You say that because you are an anti-religious, zionist comunist! Shame on you, the real Jewish people is outraged by what you just wrote!!

    (just kidding, the article is perfect – I just wonder how many comments like these you got…)

  • A. Nuran February 17, 2010, 3:44 AM


    • A. Nuran February 17, 2010, 3:46 AM

      Argh! The website doesn’t support Hebrew!

      Thanks for a thoughtful, humane, intelligent commentary.

  • B.G.C. February 17, 2010, 3:52 AM

    I agree that the current outcry is a big chilul Hashem. However, to the extent that there is reason to believes someone deserves clemency and to the extent that there is no one else to speak out for him, we should speak up. I, therefore, believe that we should be speaking out for the yeshiva boys arrested in Japan and not for the rabbis involved in the organ transplants.

  • Tova February 17, 2010, 6:30 AM

    Interesting article, but I feel that most opponents of the death penalty use emotion rather than logic to make most of their arguments. That ‘the death penalty is racist’ is a particularly specious argument.

    I am surprised that only one person here (Bassy) agrees with me, but I am not surprised that there are frum Jews who only oppose the death penalty for Jewish criminals.

    • Jew for Justice February 17, 2010, 10:45 AM

      It is a bit ridiculous to accuse me of using emotion and not logic, when that opening statement is backed up by a point-by-point set of arguments against each possible reason to back the death penalty. I tend to find that most people who support the death penalty never thought about it and do it for emotional reasons.

      I will respond to Bassy’s arguments above when I have some time later today. I respect that she took the time to actually present her case for the death penalty in a logical and reasonable manner.

    • Firefly February 17, 2010, 11:29 AM

      I agree with you (and Bassy) too.

  • Dovid Dobin February 17, 2010, 6:51 AM

    I have participated in some of the Tehillim conferences, and I think it’s admirable that we are banding together to help one of our own. However, there’s a line to be drawn. Asking God for his help is one thing, but making it political is just an embarrassment of hypocrisy. It’s possible for a Jew to be punished for reasons other than his religion. We need to accept that not all of us are perfect.

    • MissShona February 17, 2010, 9:18 AM

      We need to accept that not all of us are perfect.

      Actually none of us are perfect! ūüôā

  • FarFrumIt February 17, 2010, 8:24 AM

    As Jews, we have to understand that we ARE different and history has shown that if we do not stand up for own then no one will. Even in enlightened societies.
    While you may be right that the Jewish community had CHOSEN this case to fight the death penalty because the accused was Jewish, it is worthwhile to note that the main ARGUMENTS against execution had nothing to do with religion but rather rational grounds why Mr. Grossman was “unfit” to be executed.

    • Bassy February 17, 2010, 12:01 PM

      The arguments the haredim put forward regarding Mr. Grossman’s level of mental fitness were for the benefit of the gentile community; that is not the real reason they banded together to try to save his life. They tried to save his life only because he was Jewish and a baal tshuva (I doubt they’d have been so enthusiastic if he didn’t go along with their tefillin laying every day). Let’s face it, while the haredi posters on VIN and YWN may be stupid, the Jewish leaders are not, and they know better than to send out public notices and letters to politicians stating the truth in their hearts “Please don’t kill him because he’s a holy Jew, and we think we are above the law.”

  • kissmei'mshomer February 17, 2010, 10:23 AM

    Excellent post!
    Reflects my exact thoughts, only much more coherently than I could express them.
    I get especially annoyed when appeals to save Martin Grossman talk about him as a “ba’al teshuva who puts on tefilin.” I’m against the death penalty, but whether or not a person wears tefilin is a moot point in this debate.

  • Dave February 17, 2010, 10:29 AM

    I am a lubavitcher, and a death-penalty supporter, and I completely and whole-heartedly agree with you. Death penalty comes down to a choice, and is terribly imperfect. But the point is that whatever side of the choice you fall on, you have to be principled. You can’t support capital punishment just because the victim was a jew, and you can’t oppose it just because the criminal is a jew. There is one law for everyone, and until we get our heads out of our tuchises, we’ll keep making a major chillul Hashem.

    • Bassy February 17, 2010, 12:02 PM

      Dave, what is the word going around in your community? Because it looks like Chabad started this whole thing.

      I’m glad to see at least one Chabadnik who has his moral priorities straight. Thanks for posting!

  • Phil February 17, 2010, 10:42 AM

    I’m all for the death penalty, just not in it’s stupid state of costing taxpayers a fortune. They’ve figured out that the costs of trials, appeals, etc surpass the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it costs to keep someone imprisoned for life.

    In a society run by my rules (Phildom), convicts would be executed within 1 week, just enough time to pump up a big time pay per view event of the execution. That way, the deterrent aspect of the death penalty is clear for all to see, and the lawyers / judges fees would all be paid for by the millions that would surely tune in to watch.

    Heck, maybe violent murderers should get violent death penalties, kind of like what they used to do in Rome to fill their stadiums.

    Israel should definitely do so with all those imprisoned terrorists instead of freeing them as goodwill gestures.

    As for this particular Jewish guy on death row, it’s more than likely that he deserves to be there, but Jewish law stipulates that Jews have a moral obligation to free or ransom captives from non Jewish captors.

    However, I’m not sure if it applies only to people imprisoned because they are Jewish / kidnapped for ransom, or if it applies to criminals as well.

    • Meir February 17, 2010, 10:54 AM

      Iím all for the death penalty, just not in itís stupid state of costing taxpayers a fortune. Theyíve figured out that the costs of trials, appeals, etc surpass the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it costs to keep someone imprisoned for life.

      This was exactly the rationale that led New Jersey to repeal its death penalty; the laws were such that

      Phildom doesn’t sound like a nice place to live, though, and might well not be in line with halacha, given the significant number of people who have had been later exonerated (a not insignificant number of whom have been on death row, though thankfully our drawn-out legal process seems to have caught these mistakes before it was too late, as there is not an instance of someone executed since 1976 who has later been exonerated) http://www.innocenceproject.org/know/Browse-Profiles.php

      • Phil February 17, 2010, 11:42 AM

        Phildom is based entirely on it’s governement controlling vices for profit instead of using taxation as most countries do.

        In addition to pay per view executions, it believes in the government controlling and taxing alcohol, drugs, prostitution and gambling. Place would be rampant with pubs, high class crack and whore houses, casinos, in addition to offering similar services on TV and Online.

        It would cater mainly to tourists, citizens wouldn’t pay a dime for in taxes and likely have free healthcare, housing, possibly even food.

        Yeah, not your typical Lakewood or Boro park type area, definitely wouldn’t want to raise a frum family there.

    • Frumsatire Fan February 17, 2010, 11:08 AM

      Great idea! Violent murderers, we could tie them to a vertical pole and build a little bonfire around. Perhaps give them a special uniform to wear on their way to the execution. Oh, and the ones that repent at the last moment, we could show them mercy by garotting them before burning. The President should witness all executions, definitely. Hmm, only problem is convictions within 1 week, I think even the Spanish Inquisition took a bit longer and did all those appeals yadda yadda yadda.

      • Phil February 17, 2010, 11:14 AM

        FS fan,

        No reason to feed them longer than the time they take to generate pay per view sales. If it’s 2 weeks, so be it.

        When the Chinese wanted to solve their opium crisis in the early 1900s, anyone caught high was sentenced and shot in the head on site. The families waiting nearby were responsible for getting rid of the body.

        • Phil February 17, 2010, 11:16 AM


          I was thinking more along the lines of cage fights with lions or bears…

          • spidey February 17, 2010, 1:10 PM

            Brilliant. Why don’t you just make them gladiators in the old-school fashion? It would be the best reality show on TV.

            • Phil February 17, 2010, 1:21 PM


              We already have the UFC, this would take it to the next step. From the picture above, this guy doesn’t look like he’s in any shape to be a gladiator.

              I can’t see him being any competition to a real fighter, though it would be interesting to have inmates from different states fight to the death. Then you’d have the home state rooting against their candidate instead of for him (or her).

              • spidey February 17, 2010, 1:29 PM


                Good point about the shape he’s in. However, an element of comedy can only attract more viewers. I think the UFC would collapse if this goes happened; they have too many regulations that make it easy for the fighters to just grapple. There’s just not enough blood or action.

                How about this- add a racial element to the games. Make it white on black, or any other combination you can think of. That’s gauranteed to attract viewers.

                • Phil February 17, 2010, 1:40 PM


                  The race cards is great. Imagine, the big fat k*ke that murdered the nice young women, against the lean and mean ni*** that shot the clerk, etc. Amazing way to pay for those outrageous court related fees, and those expensive cardio machines and juicy steaks they serve in jail.

                  You and I should get together and run in the next elections…Oops, I’m Canadian, your racist constitution won’t allow it.

                  • spidey February 17, 2010, 1:54 PM


                    I’m reasonably certain that there are no cardio machines in prison; just look at the huge cons coming out of prison. That muscularity can only come from heavy lifting. In my opinion prisons should get rid of the weight pile as they are producing more dangerous criminals. For cardio prisoners often do hundreds of burpees. As for prison food… I just can’t figure out how he could be so fat in prison.

                    Interesting that you consider Canadians a race. I had always suspected that their low I.Q. and high levels of politeness was a racial characteristic.

                    • Phil February 17, 2010, 2:03 PM


                      Low IQ’s??? Them is words of war!

                      Friend of mine did some time in the US, he bulked up big time to protect himself. He kept kosher as much as he could, lived off tuna and peanut butter, but the other guys in their got meat on a regular basis. I’m guessing most of them ate better on the inside than on the outside.

                      Add the cable TV, internet access, free education, etc. to the cost of paying guards and maintaining the prisons, as well as all the court, public defendants and judges fees, you start to realize that my plan make good sense (and dollars).

                    • spidey February 17, 2010, 2:15 PM

                      For some reason I am not able to reply to your comment.
                      According to the pbs the US government spends 62 billion a year on the correctional system. I think you have a point…

                    • Phil February 17, 2010, 2:56 PM


                      Now just think, 62,000,000,000 in the pockets of the taxpayers or those that need it most, in addition to all the PPV profits.

                      It’s really a no brainer.

                  • Yochanan February 18, 2010, 7:46 PM

                    You could really up the ante and have them dress up as Shylock and a Voodoo priest, respectively.

                    • Phil February 18, 2010, 8:23 PM


                      I wasn’t thinking of guy dressed in a shtreimel with fake peyos walking in to hava nagilah ro some fiddler on the roof thing, vs. the black dude dreesed in one of those hip hop pimp costumes with da hos dancing to some hip hop or soul train type thing.

                      Then you’d get the intro reading off all their rap sheets ever since they were in pre-school, up until the time they got convicted.

                      Let’s get ready to rumble and it’s a no holds barred fight to the death, maybe give them crude objects like forks or plastic knives to use as weapons.

  • Anonymous February 17, 2010, 11:05 AM

    1- your argument against the death penalty – black ,and poor people will get the death penalty more the rich white people – is an argument against the entire justice system. Anyone that can afford to hire a more competent lawyer obviously stands a better chance of being acquitted of crime more then a poor person who’s appointed a lawyer. This does not mean we should do away with the death penalty. I personally believe that this argument is flawed. I happen to be apposed to the death penalty in any circumstance, because i don’t believe that any human should be given the authority to take a life that G-D created.
    2 – you argue that it is a Chillul hashem. WHen it comes to saving a jews life i don’t believe that you can use the “chillul hashem” card. It’s a very poor argument, and one I guarantee will be refuted by ant respectable halachik authority.
    3- The reason Jewish people fought for him is the same reason anyone would fight for their brother their friend their neighbor, or anyone that they have some sort of bond with. I don’t know about you but I have more feelings for a jew then i do for a random person who is not jewish. Is this bad. Is there something wrong with having more feelings towards someone who shares the same religion as you. If a Catholic organasation organised a campaign to save a catholic inmate on death row would call them racists? no. you wouldn’t even bat an eye lash at the news story.
    4- i didn’t get anything asking me for money. They asked me to write an email that took 1 minute to write. Is that so much to ask for? Did i waste my time when i could have been organizing a collection fund for people in Haiti? No. I would not have been doing anything else anyhow.
    5- People don’t care about the “schvartzah that killed some people” the same way Joe Smith doesn’t care about some Jew that killed some person. Believe it or not there are many people who don’t care what someone they have no connection to, do. But for a Jew, whom we have some connection to” we do care.
    6- Why is everyone always playing the race card. There is nothing wrong with caring for a Jew More then any random person. It is not racist. It’s normal. Just like caring for a relative more then a random person.
    7- I know alot of Jews that refused to get involved because “you kill you get killed”. They only changed thier mind because they heard more of the facts like he is mentally handicapped and it wasn’t premeditated, etc. I am sure if they heard the circumstances of every death row inmate, and it was the same, or even more, as Martin Grossman thay would feel the same way. They just don’t care because not everyone cares about everyone else. Jews and non jews alike.

    • MissShona February 17, 2010, 11:45 AM

      It may be “natural” for you to care more for one of your own; but Jews are not into doing “natural” things! Is keeping kosher “natural”? Is donning tefillin “natural”? Is taharas hamispacha “natural”? No! We do these things because we have specific direction from Hashem. Similarly we also have specific direction from Hashem to “not murder” and that the goyim must set up civil courts of law to deal with criminals. No where does it say that Jews are to be exempt from the laws of the goyishe lands Jews find themselves in…quite contrary!

      Boy, we really, really need help apparently — we’ve gotten so far off track!

      • Bassy February 17, 2010, 12:08 PM

        Beautiful response Miss Shona. I was reading that and just shaking my head. How can anyone justify championing a murderer? And no, I DON’T feel a kinship with this fat, ugly, brutal pig — I feel a kinship with the 5’2″ park ranger, cause I’m also 5’2″. No, seriously, I feel more of a kinship with good, decent, innocent people, like Peggy Park.

      • FarFrumIt February 17, 2010, 12:52 PM

        No one ever said Mr. Grossman should not be executed because he is a Jew. The arguments were that he is mentally disabled (IQ in the 70s) and it wasn’t premeditated. The fact that he was a Jew just made other Jews know about it and feel the urge to call – it had nothing to do with being exempt from the law.

        • OnionSoupMix February 18, 2010, 12:08 AM

          He wasn’t mentally disabled. His IQ was not 77. Stop drinking the kool aid. Did you see his poetry page on the prison personals?

          • FarFrumIt February 18, 2010, 12:09 PM

            So even though all reports (and case files) say his IQ was 77, you know better?
            Because he can write poetry?
            Please, even dummies can write (or for that matter comment without thinking).

            • Onionsoupmix February 18, 2010, 9:44 PM

              There’s only one report. And it doesn’t say his IQ level. In fact, if you read the report carefully, it says an IQ test was done but it manages to avoid giving the results.

              Have you ever worked with mentally handicapped adults? I spent half of my career in special ed., giving IQ tests and interpreting them. Have you worked with individuals whose IQ is below 80? Have you seen Martin’s letter that he wrote before his death, half of it whited out by YWN? People with an IQ of 77 cannot write like that. They can barely spell & write on a 2nd grade level, at most.

          • Jew for Justice February 18, 2010, 12:38 PM

            I dont know anything about this case in particular, but I will say that having strengths in any one area does not preclude a definition of MR. Pointing to poetry that he wrote is pretty irrelevant. I suggest that you do a little research into how MR is determined before you post comments as to whether or not someone can possibly have MR. (currently its IQ under 70 (or 75 with standard error) AND adaptive behavior components in some areas – there are different schools of thought in how to classify areas, etc – AND existing before the age of 18).

            • Onionsoupmix February 18, 2010, 9:55 PM

              I’m gonna venture that my school psych program, years of IQ testing and report writing and experience as a special ed director should be enough research into how MR is determined. I’ve diagnosed MR quite a few times so I’m pretty familiar with the process as well as with the functioning levels of those with cognitive delays.

              People with a 77 IQ ( above the MR line, as you stated) have global deficits in functioning, generally across the board. These individuals ( termed “borderline”) have considerable difficulties in communication- writing poetry at that level would not be possible with that IQ. Likewise for the letter than YWN is claiming he wrote- not possible with an IQ of 77.

              The only exception to the above could possibly be an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome, but even that is highly unlikely here.

        • RK February 18, 2010, 11:44 AM

          Of course, those aren’t legal defenses, but just mitigating factors that are (and have been) present in many, many other cases, none of which raised the collective ire of the Jewish community. That’s why it’s hard to avoid the impression that the campaign to save Grossman was motivated by the fact that he was Jewish. The nature of the death penalty in the U.S. is simply such that most people who are executed have many mitigating factors, in one way or another.

          • FarFrumIt February 18, 2010, 12:15 PM

            You missed the point. How is the Jewish community supposed to find out about some of the “many, many other cases” that you claim exist?
            Furthermore, no one ever claimed his innocence, only that he was not deserving of execution – as per “many, many other cases.”
            Jewish people should be at the forefront of justice for all, but you cannot realistically expect them to take up every single cause. And like any other community in the world, things that affect them personally are paid more attention to.

            • RK February 18, 2010, 12:30 PM

              I know nobody ever claimed his innocence. I’m not even suggesting that the Jewish community mobilize to save every similarly situated criminal defendant (though it would be nice). What I (and the OP) do object to is the fact that the Orthodox Jewish community, in my experience, tends to be broadly supportive of the death penalty despite the fact that a large proportion of those executed have mitigating factors similar or even more compelling than Grossman.

      • Anonymous February 17, 2010, 1:33 PM

        Everything a jew does because the Torah tells him to do it? Does someone love his child because the Torah says to. No. You love your child because it’s natural. What does “jews are not into doing natural things” mean. Do you even think before you write?
        No one is arguing that jewws should be exempt. The argument was that it similar cases the inmate wasn’t executed.
        Why does everything get twisted. Who said that Jews should get away with murder. Have you even read the petition?

        • MissShona February 17, 2010, 9:14 PM

          Actually it may be YOU who does not think before you write. The Torah does not spell out every single human emotion and action. However it does present how a Jew is to be different than others. All humans have the natural tendency to care for their offspring. However you took the low ground and basically said “Jews are just doing what everyone else does…”, so your response here misses the point completely. MY point was that Jews are held to a higher standard in terms of sensitivity and caring ALL of Hashem’s creations. Is that clearer for you perhaps?

        • MissShona February 17, 2010, 9:17 PM

          I am not interested in reading that petition because I am not interested in the cause. If I am not on the jury, it is not my place to protest any verdict. If anything, I would protest a law, or police brutality….but a court verdict? No.

    • RK February 18, 2010, 11:40 AM

      If a Catholic organasation organised a campaign to save a catholic inmate on death row would call them racists? no. you wouldnít even bat an eye lash at the news story.

      People don’t see the Catholics as hypocritical because they (as an institution, not necessarily as individuals) oppose the death penalty for everyone, not just Catholics. If they did just mobilize for Catholic prisoners, then yes, that does seem pretty hypocritical.

      • FarFrumIt February 18, 2010, 12:17 PM

        Yawwwn. This had nothing to do with opposing the death penalty. Just basic facts that would normally preclude an execution: low IQ and not premeditated.

        • RK February 18, 2010, 12:25 PM

          You know that those are two of the most common mitigating factors, right? I’ve done death penalty work, and it’s extremely common for death-row inmates to have low IQs (but not low enough to qualify under Atkins), and for premeditation to be contested. Grossman is hardly atypical.

          • FarFrumIt February 18, 2010, 12:56 PM

            “Iíve done death penalty work, and itís extremely common for death-row inmates to have low IQs”
            Mr. Grossman was borderline mentally retarded.
            Less than 5% of all executions ever since 1976 (accurate records) happened to people with such low IQs (up to mid 70s).
            Total people executed per year averages to around 36. Which means that the executed MR per year is at around 2.
            And this is from all over the US.
            How can you seriously expect Jews to find out about these cases and attempt to stop an execution? This makes Mr. Grossman the Jew very atypical.

            • RK February 18, 2010, 1:20 PM

              Where did you find such detailed data on IQ and executions?

              There are figures for people who are classified as mentally retarted under Atkins: about 200-300 such people were on death row in 2001. But this is a class of people that is more impaired than Grossman: under post-Atkins definitions of MR, the IQ cutoff tends to be 70 (there’s some variation here) and some impairment of adaptive functioning needs to be shown as well, both from before the age of 18. The class of people who, like Grossman, suffer from some intellectual disability but who aren’t MR for legal purposes is, I suspect, larger than 5%.

              Again, I didn’t say that the Jewish community should mobilize to this extent in favor of every similarly situated defendant, but simply that their campaign in this case is hard to square with the broad support for, or indifference to, the death penalty I’ve found in the Orthodox Jewish communityóa death penalty that is not infrequently applied to people who suffer from intellectual disabilities (but not MR, under the various legal definitions). Additionally, even if it’s not feasable for the entire Orthodox community to agitate against the death penalty, it’s certainly possible for Orthodox Jewish organizations to take public stands against it (as the URJ and the Catholic Church, among others, do). And yet, while the Agudah takes positions on a variety of political issues, they don’t take any public stance in this area. Neither does Young Israel.

              And yes, this does make me think that a large part of Grossman’s support stemmed from the fact that he was Jewish.

            • RK February 18, 2010, 1:33 PM

              Also, I should note that the average number of executions you give doesn’t give an accurate picture of the number of executions in recent times, since there were very few exeucutions in the years immediately following Gregg. In the last 15 years (1995-2009), by contrast, there have been an average of 62 executions a year.

              • FarFrumIt February 18, 2010, 3:22 PM

                I got the numbers from deathpenaltyinfo.org (the basic math just follows).
                By taking a stance on the death penalty, a Jewish organization is basically saying that I agree/disagree about the law, which understandably can cause hesitance on their part. (I currently am undecided with regards to this – I haven’t really given it much thought)
                But Mr. Grossman’s case had nothing to do with a specific stance on the death penalty.
                Why should the purported “broad support for, or indifference to, the death penalty Iíve found in the Orthodox Jewish community” have anything to do with Mr. Grossman’s case?
                You mention because its “a death penalty that is not infrequently applied to people who suffer from intellectual disabilities” and to that you have already agreed it is not necessary “that the Jewish community should mobilize to this extent in favor of every similarly situated defendant.”
                So basically, I am not even sure what we are really arguing about?

                • RK February 18, 2010, 3:38 PM

                  I checked DPIC as well; as I said, they only seem to have figures for people who suffer from MR, and not people like Grossman who have intellectual disabilities that aren’t legally MR. (If he had MR, he couldn’t have been executed.)

                  What I’m saying is that among the Orthodox, there has been almost complete indifference or support of the death penalty in cases where the defendant’s situation was similar or even more compelling than Mr. Grossman’s. They don’t need to mobilize in favor of every such defendant, but when they only do so in favor of one such person, who just happens to be Jewish and a ba’al teshuva, it’s difficult to take the publicly-stated reasons at face value, and hard to avoid the conclusion that the most salient aspect of the case for most of Grossman’s supporters was the fact that he’s Jewish.

                  Honestly, I’m surprised this is even controversial. You can say that this sort of thing is justified by the special concern Jews ought to have for each other. I disagree, but fine. But I just can’t believe that that the rhetoric reflected the actual motivation behind this outpouring of support.

  • Rizzo February 17, 2010, 12:05 PM

    Could it be that now in a world when all our needs come so easily we don’t really have any practice at controlling our impulses. Therefore we are reverting to a very simple instinctual man with little self control precisly becuase we don’t need to practice it much?

  • DrumIntellect February 17, 2010, 12:06 PM

    I disagree with almost everything you wrote.
    I support the death penalty in theory. It must be carried out cautiously. Even if it is never carried out, it’s still better for society to have the option than not.

    I don’t have a problem with Jewish groups advocating on behalf of this murderer. There was a nice article in the Jewish Star this week that expresses my point of view. It basically said that it’s expected that each group looks after their own. If a Italian was up for the death penalty, we’d expect Italian organizations to lobby for that person’s cause. Jews are no different.

    • Sergey Kadinsky February 17, 2010, 12:25 PM

      In fact, Orthodox Jews are divided on how to properly remember Martin Grossman. On YWN, commenters are split whether to say z”l, hy”d, or a”h. A”h seems to be the consensus.

      Personally, I support the death penalty in theory, especially towards the unrepentant terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons, hoping to be released at some point.

      • Bassy February 17, 2010, 12:46 PM

        Can someone please spell out the initials and then define what they mean? I hear these a lot but I have never know what they mean or why you choose one over the other.

        • spidey February 17, 2010, 1:19 PM

          To the best of my knowledge:
          z”l=zichrono livracha=of blessed memory
          hy”d=hashem yinkom damo=God will avenge his blood
          a”h=alav hashalom=peace be upon him

          • spidey February 17, 2010, 1:23 PM

            z”l: for deceased Jews of good character
            hy”d: for martyred Jews
            a”h: for any deceased Jew

    • Bassy February 17, 2010, 12:49 PM

      Ugh. Again, as has been said numerous times in this thread by different posters, Jews ARE different in that we are supposed to control our natural impulses and do the right thing. Standing by a murderer just because he belongs to the tribe is not the “right thing.” Do you see white people rallying around all the white murderers? Do you see Lutherans rallying around all the Lutheran murderers? No. It’s only very ignorant and primal “tribal” cultures who do such things.

      • John February 17, 2010, 4:05 PM

        Who decides what is the right thing, you? If your brother was in his shoes would you make an extra effort to help, why is our brother different, I think its right to make effort for one of our own.
        Ive got to say I was not surprised to see anti-death penalty types change their mind in this case because frummies were also against the death-penalty in this situation. i always new Frummies werent big fans of those who are less frum, but the level of hatred of Frummies by less-frum is mind-boggling and really surprised me.

        • OnionSoupMix February 18, 2010, 12:10 AM

          John, who turned in the Unabomber? Check into that, hm?

          • John February 18, 2010, 10:19 AM

            Would it be wrong for the unabobmers’ brother too try to get him life-sentence and not a death penalty. Nowhere did the frummie petition call for a murderers’ release

      • DrumIntellect February 18, 2010, 1:47 AM

        I agree with you, aside from reasons related to mental illness, he should have been put to death.
        I don’t have a problem with Jews trying to get him life in prison. (Especailly, since they see it as a religious obligation.)
        I don’t have a problem with Lutherans rallying behind a Lutheran murderer or Muslims rallying behind a Muslim murderer.
        I would just hope that in all three cases the result would be the same, as it was in this case.

    • Anonymous February 17, 2010, 1:32 PM

      The sad reality is that most Orthodox Jews are cliquish tribesmen. They are not taught to think independently and develop a principled position on anything. They are told what to think and what to accept. And so they herd, they parrot, they regurgitate, they capitulate, and they contradict — themselves. Often.

      This case is yet another example of that.

      Will the community finally take a principled stand on an issue? Will they declare their outright support or opposition to the death penalty as every other religious body in this country has done? I wouldn’t count on it. Instead they will wallow in the murky waters of ambiguity, taking either side of an issue when it becomes most advantageous, invoking the Torah when they feel it beneficial, and producing yet another generation of mindless unprincipled double speakers.

    • Yochanan February 18, 2010, 8:18 PM

      Looking after your own is one thing, but that combined with the racism and xenophobia one often finds in the Orthodox community is another.

  • A Little Sanity February 17, 2010, 1:18 PM

    “1) The death penalty as practiced in the USA is racist …. The death penalty is really just a punishment for being poor and black”

    By that logic, the whole justice system is racist, since poor blacks are disproportionately incarcerated. Ergo, we must get rid of the whole justice system, correct?

    “(a) that it is a deterrent against future crime”

    It certainly is 100% effective as a deterrent against the person executed.

    “many studies have shown that the death penalty has no deterrent effect [i.e., on other potential murderers]”

    Well, yeah, nowadays when it takes 25 years to execute someone in the most obvious of circumstances, and the state is precluded from widely applying the death penalty because of the costs and constraints imposed by the courts. Check the murder rates 75 years ago, before the Warren Court, when the death penalty was more widely applied, and you will see they were much lower.

    Long prison terms are what we give someone who commits massive fraud. To say a murderer deserves the same thing devalues life. It is the morality of Sodom.

    Oh, and by the way, what penalty would you give to murderer serving a life sentence who murders another inmate, or a prison guard, as has happened?

    • RK February 18, 2010, 12:12 PM

      By that logic, the whole justice system is racist, since poor blacks are disproportionately incarcerated. Ergo, we must get rid of the whole justice system, correct?

      It’s not clear to what extent the disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans is a result of unfairness in the criminal justice system, and to what extent it just reflects differential crime rates. The issue with the death penalty is that African-Americans tend to receive the penalty more frequently than similarly situated whites (i.e., whites who committed similar crimes under similar circumstances). Even more worryingly, it seems to vary based on the race of the victim: black-on-white murders tend to get death more frequently than black-on-black or white-on-white murders.

      Check the murder rates 75 years ago, before the Warren Court, when the death penalty was more widely applied, and you will see they were much lower.

      That’s some really careful econometric analysis right thereóas if the only thing that differed between today and 1935 was the Warren Court’s criminal justice jurisprudence. You may as well say that the fact that the 1935 murder rate was higher in Alabama than in Michigan (which had abolished the death penalty) shows that the pre-Warren death penalty caused more homicide.

      In any case, the current structure of appeals, state postconviction, and federal habeas is clearly here to stay: even conservative administrations and courts couldn’t bring themselves to overturn it when they had a chance. So your decision as to whether to continue the death penalty or not should just take that as a given, whether or not you think the original decisions were mistaken.

      Oh, and by the way, what penalty would you give to murderer serving a life sentence who murders another inmate, or a prison guard, as has happened?

      All criminal penalties prevent some sort of individualized determination, including the death penalty. If someone ends up accidentally killing someone in the course of a felony (e.g., running someone over while driving the getaway car) they’re on the hook for felony murder, which is capital in several states. That means they don’t have much incentive to refrain from shooting someone else.

      • A Little Sanity February 21, 2010, 12:02 AM

        “The issue with the death penalty is that African-Americans tend to receive the penalty more frequently than similarly situated whites (i.e., whites who committed similar crimes under similar circumstances).”

        Assuming for argument’s sake your assertion is true:

        The key words are “similarly situated” : very subjective and it would be easy to manipulate the statistics to support a desired outcome by labeling crimes “similar” when convenient.

        BTW, aren’t jurors selected from the voter rolls? Are all these “racist” jurors part of the electorate that recently elected a black man president? That fact would seem to indicate less prejudice in society than in the past and less reason to worry about racially discriminatory application of the death penalty, correct?

        “as if the only thing that differed between today and 1935 was the Warren Courtís criminal justice jurisprudence.”

        I never said “only”. Do I see a straw man?

        “You may as well say that the fact that the 1935 murder rate was higher in Alabama than in Michigan (which had abolished the death penalty) shows that the pre-Warren death penalty caused more homicide.”

        One might say that, except for the fact that it would be absurd.

        “In any case, the current structure of appeals, state postconviction, and federal habeas is clearly here to stay: even conservative administrations and courts couldnít bring themselves to overturn it when they had a chance.”

        The revolution is coming, my friend.

        “Me: Oh, and by the way, what penalty would you give to murderer serving a life sentence who murders another inmate, or a prison guard, as has happened?

        You: All criminal penalties prevent some sort of individualized determination, including the death penalty….”

        The Court orders the witness to please answer the the question.

        • RK February 21, 2010, 12:37 AM

          The key words are ďsimilarly situatedĒ : very subjective and it would be easy to manipulate the statistics to support a desired outcome by labeling crimes ďsimilarĒ when convenient.

          You do realize that there are standard measures of culpability in crimonology, right? Most studies use neutral measures of culpability: either the state’s own statutory aggravating factors, or assessments made by panels of attorneys from whom the race of the victim and defendant are shielded. More importantly, the results tend to be robust to changes in specification (i.e., whatever measures of culpability you control for). If you’re interested, start with this paper and work your way through the bibliography.

          BTW, arenít jurors selected from the voter rolls? Are all these ďracistĒ jurors part of the electorate that recently elected a black man president?

          Where to begin? (1) Yes, jurors are often selected from voter rolls (not always), but the final jury is hardly a cross-section of the electorate, since the prosecution and defense have wide latitude to strike jurors for a variety of reasons (including opposition to the death penaltyóa process called death qualification). (2) Many of the decisionmakers who play a role in deciding whether someone gets the death penalty, like DAs (who, after all, are the ones who decide whether to charge a defendant capitally), are not a cross-section of societyófor one thing, over 90% of DAs in counties that use the death penalty are white (3) There’s nothing inconsistent about voting for Obama and being more likely to impose the death penalty in black-on-white crimes (4) Most of the states that impose the death penalty most frequently didn’t vote for Obama anyway, for what that’s worth.

          I never said ďonlyĒ. Do I see a straw man?

          It would need to be the only difference for the comparison to prove what you want it to prove.

          Oh, and by the way, what penalty would you give to murderer serving a life sentence who murders another inmate, or a prison guard, as has happened?

          LWOP. Or not, I don’t really care. It’s like in the abortion debate, where edge cases (rape, incest) play an outsized role in the public discourse, even though they account for a negligible fraction of abortions.

          Would you be willing to limit the death penalty to prisoners already serving LWOP? If not, what’s the question supposed to prove?

          • A Little Sanity February 22, 2010, 3:00 PM

            That’s why studies funded by conservative institutions tend to come to conservative conclusions, and those funded by liberal institutions tend to come to liberal conclusions, right?
            To consider these studies somehow to be objective is pretentious at best, and dishonest at worst.
            But for argument’s sake, let’s say you’re right, and the juries of this country are staffed by evil racists who punish black defendants s more severely than “similarly situated” white ones. That would just be an argument to punish the white guys just as much as the black ones, not an argument to abolish the death penalty. Au contraire, we should administer it more often, to white defendants such as Grossman. Then it would be fair, n’est pas?

            I presume further that you would thus support the death penalty if studies showed it was administered in a racially neutral manner. If you wouldn’t, then your argument is a sham.

            “Me: Oh, and by the way, what penalty would you give to murderer serving a life sentence who murders another inmate, or a prison guard, as has happened?

            You: LWOP. Or not, I donít really care.”

            That’s true, you don’t care about or value the life of the inmate or guard killed in such a scenario. You save your compassion for the murderers. How moral you are.

            “Would you be willing to limit the death penalty to prisoners already serving LWOP? If not, whatís the question supposed to prove?”

            I would not be. And questions don’t prove things. But it did elicit the following: A. You have no effective and just punishment to mete out for the person willing to murder after he’s sentenced to LWOP. Every murder after that is a freebie.

            B. You scream to high heavens about alleged violations of the rights of undisputed murderers. As for their victims, you”donít really care.”. As I said above, the morality of Sodom.

            • RK February 22, 2010, 4:43 PM

              Thatís why studies funded by conservative institutions tend to come to conservative conclusions, and those funded by liberal institutions tend to come to liberal conclusions, right?

              Uh huh, an academic study from researchers at the University of Maryland and the University of South Carolina is “funded by a liberal institution.” Academic misconduct is a serious charge to make, and requires serious evidence. If you have a methodological critique to make, make it.

              Then it would be fair, níest pas?

              It would be fair, but not feasable given the discretion we give to prosecutors and juries. As for “evil racists,” I never suggested that the juries in question bear any overt animus towards black people. More likely it’s just an example of the implicit racial biases that economists have found among NBA referees and prosecutors seeking wiretap orders. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

              I presume further that you would thus support the death penalty if studies showed it was administered in a racially neutral manner. If you wouldnít, then your argument is a sham.

              I would support the death penalty if it were administered neutrally, and if there was strong evidence that it had a deterrent effect. So yes, my opposition is informed by pragmatic, utilitarian considerations. Now you tell me: What would have to be shown for you to oppose the death penalty? Would you oppose it if it were shown to your satisfaction to be imposed in a racially disparate manner?

              Thatís true, you donít care about or value the life of the inmate or guard killed in such a scenario. You save your compassion for the murderers. How moral you are.

              Such a murder would be a terrible crime, and an unimaginably painful experience for the families of the victims. Not that it’s any business of yours, but I’ve had a close relative murdered, and I’ve worked with the families of victims through restorative justice programs, and I think it’s just disgusting for you to suggest that I lack compassion for crime victims. Kindly stick to the arguments; if I want mussar, I’ll ask for it.

              You have no effective and just punishment to mete out for the person willing to murder after heís sentenced to LWOP. Every murder after that is a freebie.

              What punishment would you impose for someone on death row who kills another inmate or a guard?

              • A Little Sanity February 22, 2010, 8:56 PM

                “Academic misconduct is a serious charge to make”.

                I’m alleging bias, not misconduct. [No doubt unconscious, like the refs, jurors and wiretap prosecutors]. I doubt you’d find many conservatives among the organizers of the great majority of the studies you list.

                “If you have a methodological critique to make, make it.”

                I have read of studies finding no significant racial bias. And, as stated, even if there were such bias, that’s just a good reason to execute more white murderers.

                “I would support the death penalty if it were administered neutrally, and if there was strong evidence that it had a deterrent effect.”

                So if it could be proved that the entire criminal justice system was not administered [racially] neutrally, and that the threat of imprisonment did not deter crime, you would advocate no imprisonment either, right?

                “Iíve had a close relative murdered”

                Please accept my sincere condolences.

                I still contend that your position on this issue will lead to many more dead victims than mine. Hence the vehemence of my argument.

                “Now you tell me: What would have to be shown for you to oppose the death penalty? ”

                I would oppose it in any particular case where it could be shown that there was some bona fide and reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant actually committed the murder.

                “Would you oppose it if it were shown to your satisfaction to be imposed in a racially disparate manner?”

                No. I would work to see the white murderers executed too.

                “What punishment would you impose for someone on death row who kills another inmate or a guard?”

                Electrocution or hanging in lieu of lethal injection. Whichever would be more painful. I would also minimize the chances of such an occurrence by keeping the inmate confined 24 hours per day.

                • RK February 22, 2010, 9:40 PM

                  Iím alleging bias, not misconduct.

                  And the whole point of econometric techniques is to eliminate the author’s bias, as far as possible, and to avoid just comparing numbers without any effort to disentangle lurking variables. Your position is essentially that academic papers are presumed to be biased, without knowing anything about the author’s actual views, and without being able to identify a methodological problem. Take a look at Table 9 in the paper I linked, and tell me which confounding variables the authors left out to falsely imply that defendants were similarly-situated when they actually weren’t.

                  (Of course, earlier you implied that the results were due to the fact that the problem was that it was too easy to “manipulate the statistics,” which is misconduct.)

                  I have read of studies finding no significant racial bias.

                  Well, go ahead and link them. We can look at the methodology, and we might get somewhere. So far these arguments seem pretty evidence-free.

                  And, as stated, even if there were such bias, thatís just a good reason to execute more white murderers.

                  And what’s your plan for eliminating racial bias from the system? How much are you willing to spend on this plan?

                  So if it could be proved that the entire criminal justice system was not administered [racially] neutrally, and that the threat of imprisonment did not deter crime, you would advocate no imprisonment either, right?

                  Really, no deterrent effect? If that were in fact shown, then yes, I think that would necessitate a major rethinking of our criminal justice system, including probably vastly less (and possibly no) incarceration. I’m not that worried about this happening, though.

                  I would oppose it in any particular case where it could be shown that there was some bona fide and reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant actually committed the murder.

                  Really? Then I’m not sure why we’re even discussing this, since your answer seems to imply that you’d support the death penalty no matter how racially skewed the application, how feasible and expensive it would be to fix it, and how low the deterrent effect. (Perhaps even negativeósome papers have claimed to find a “brutalizing” effect where the death penalty appears to cause more violent crime. In my opinion, though, those papers have serious methodological problems.)

                  No. I would work to see the white murderers executed too.

                  Which would presumably involve big changes to the current structure of the criminal justice system, and widespread changes in attitudes among prosecutors, judges, and jurors. And usually it’s liberals who are accused of social engineering…

                  Electrocution or hanging in lieu of lethal injection. Whichever would be more painful.

                  It’s not clear that these methods, properly performed, are actually more painful than lethal injection. (They were largely phased out because they went wrong more often and more, uh, spectacularly. There’s some evidence that the current three-drug protocol used for lethal injections sometimes goes wrong and causes extremely painful deaths, but this isn’t visible due to the paralytic the prisoner is given initially.) Not to mention the fact that it would be pretty wasteful to maintain an electric chair for these rare cases.

                  If you simply want to cause pain, then why mess around with electric chairs and gallows? Why don’t you support torturing such prisoners?

                  I would also minimize the chances of such an occurrence by keeping the inmate confined 24 hours per day.

                  All death row inmates? Given the problems California is having housing its regular prison population, and the amount of infrastructure and labor needed to maintain 24-hour lockdown facilities, this just seems totally unfeasable given the resources of the criminal justice system. If you support this just for certain inmates (like those who commit murders while incarcerated), not only would I support this, but something similar is already done with 23-hour solitary in SHUs.

                  • A Little Sanity February 22, 2010, 10:23 PM

                    “Which would presumably involve big changes to the current structure of the criminal justice system, and widespread changes in attitudes among prosecutors, judges, and jurors. And usually itís liberals who are accused of social engineeringÖ”

                    Really? It was liberal judges who decided to remake the Constitution in the image of their own views and created the present monstrosity of a system. Now today’s liberals claim that , well, given the system, we must abolish the death penalty. It’s sort of like the guy who kills his parents and then says he shouldn’t be executed before he’s an orphan.

                    I say solve the problem with a constitutional amendment that [or the appointment of Supreme Court Justices who] will reverse the excesses of the Supreme Court since the Warren Court. [At which time, BTW, crime skyrocketed. I’m sure , though, that you can probably cite studies from reputable professors of the ivory tower showing that such crime increase was merely due to a lack of Kool-Aid in our poorest communities, forcing those unfortunates into a life of vice.]

                    “If you simply want to cause pain…”

                    I want to deter murder. I want justice.

  • Appreciative February 17, 2010, 2:08 PM

    We are far from being an enlightened civilization.

    It’s easy to say we’re for the death penalty when we don’t have to look the accused in the face.

    If you don’t stand up for everyone, when it’s your turn, everyone won’t stand up for you.

    I signed the petition to save his life and I’m a Goya.

  • RussianJew February 17, 2010, 2:46 PM

    Jew for Justice,

    While I agree with your points, I disagree with your conclusion. The criminal justice system is discriminatory in the U.S.; but saying that it discriminates against those who are poor and black is a little bit of a logical leap. It discriminates against those who are undereducated and those who do not have a support system. And it is for this reason that poor, black and the mentally retarded make up a disproportionate number of people on death row. These are most vulnerable people because they often do not know how to defend/speak for themselves and often have no one to speak for them. And just as blacks make up a disproportionate number of current death row inmates 44.4% (compared to a national population of ~12%), Hispanics don’t. The Hispanic deathrow inmate population is only 11.6% which roughly correlates to a national population of also 12%. Source: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/race-death-row-inmates-executed-1976
    My guess, and this is strictly conjectural, is that this disparity is because most Hispanics come from backgrounds of strong community ties. So that if one person gets in trouble, he has a family, vast amounts of brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, or uncles etc who are willing to come to his help. They don’t come to his help because they feel like he deserves special treatment, but because he is a member of their family and they share a special bond with him. That also does not mean that they want him to be exonerated, but because they want him to be treated fairly. Thus they are willing to show up to his trials, meet with public defenders, write to local newspapers, politicians, who ever to advocate on his behalf.

    This relates directly to your next point. Many religious Jews, myself included, see the Jewish people sort of as a big family. In a time of need, I am always willing to lend a hand of support to other Jews. This is why I give tzedaka, show my support for Israel, etc. I do not do this because I think that Jews are more deserving than other people. I do this because I recognize that I cannot help everyone (and I donate to non-jewish causes as well) but that I feel a certain connection to Jewish brethren and on the basis of this connection to I lend assistance. I support the cause of clemency for Martin Grossman, not because I feel that the government is anti-semitic, or as a Jew he does not deserve to be executed , but in the same way that I would support clemency for a brother, an uncle, a nephew, or a distant cousin. Because if I do not support them, then who will?

  • Hamdlillah February 17, 2010, 3:09 PM

    Why do you think more poor and blacks are killed than anyone else? Have you stepped into a prison lately?
    Go ahead. Label me racist.
    Better yet, say it’s the WHITE man’s fault for enslaving the Africans for so long. I might actually agree. That doesn’t free anyone from the death penalty. (“Anyone”=whites, blacks, rich, poor)

  • Please February 17, 2010, 6:19 PM


    You should get an education on crime, sociology and psychology before showing such ignorance by being lazy and asking others in an offensive manner to do it for you.

    Here are a few keywords you could look up to get started: lead, exposure, violence.

    There is no simple answer.

  • benji February 17, 2010, 7:15 PM

    I agree with you 100%
    Good for you for publishing this!

  • sharona February 17, 2010, 7:48 PM

    The reason we appear to care more about fellow Jews than we do about other groups is because we Jews are family. It’s natural for people to care more about family than others. We still care about others, but family is more close to our heart. – I’m sure most of us are more concerned for siblings than someone in colorado for ex. – Of course, we should take care of others also, besides each other. And we do, for ex, Chabad helps many diff people

    • OnionSoupMix February 18, 2010, 12:11 AM

      my family doesn’t include cop-killers. I’m sorry that yours does.

      • John February 18, 2010, 10:21 AM

        Im sorry too, and im sorry to tell you that if youre jewish then yours does to, deal with it

        • Onionsoupmix February 18, 2010, 9:47 PM

          There are some Jewish people who have committed horrible crimes. Those folks are no more my family than the people who happen to live in my city who have committed horrible crimes or the people who share my gender or career choice who have committed horrible crimes. You can choose to define your family as narrowly or widely as you wish, and you in particular seem to wish to define it to include cop killers. Oh well.

          • John February 18, 2010, 10:41 PM

            Sorry my dear onionsoupmix but you cant choose your family we are stuck with them and have to deal with them flaws and all. You can hide and try to hide from the fact that a member of our family was a cop killer but sadly its true.

  • CA February 17, 2010, 8:12 PM

    I have four words: chelek Elokah mima’al mamosh.

    • OnionSoupMix February 18, 2010, 12:13 AM

      I have four words too: Stop reading bigoted sefarim.

      • CA February 18, 2010, 10:44 PM

        Everything is bigoted. For instance, if you say that animals have nervous system and plants donít, thatís bigoted.

        • Onionsoupmix February 19, 2010, 1:55 AM

          Prejudice against animals and plants is not quite the same thing as prejudice against people, unless you are a member of PETA.

          • CA February 23, 2010, 2:46 PM

            So, if I say that men on average are taller than women, I am bigoted? Are you going to answer that being chauvinist is not the same as being bigoted against other people?

            OK, Iíll spell it out. When Alter Rebbe is saying in Tanya things that you seem to think are bigoted, he is not saying his opinion. He is saying facts from mesoira. OK, so you want to dispute that these are facts? Dispute it together with the rest of Yiddishkeit. Thatís a separate story. The idea that Jews are cheilek elokah miímaal mamosh, and non-Jews are not is no more bigoted than saying that humans have an enlarged frontal lobe, while animals donít.

            Is it bigoted to say that a kohen is not allowed to marry a divorcee?

            If you have an allergic reaction to ďmysticismĒ, Iíll explain it in down-to-earth terms: there is nothing wrong in trying to save a member of your family harder than a stranger.

          • CA February 23, 2010, 2:52 PM

            Actually, I didnít read your response quite closely. So, you do believe that saying that plants donít have a nervous system (like animals) is bigoted. You just think itís ok to be bigoted against plants and animals, not against humans. I suppose that means that saying that the moon is smaller than the sun is also bigoted.

            I donít know if I have anything to say to that.

  • ari February 17, 2010, 9:05 PM

    martin grosman killed someone. as great as it is to protect a fellow jew, he unjustly took someone elses life. i dont want to say he deserved it but he got what was coming to him

  • John February 17, 2010, 9:26 PM

    Thank you for your well written essay, I too had trouble understanding the petition, yet your second point helped me realise how right the frummies were, I regret not signing, Martin Id like to publicly ask mechila for not doing anything on your behalf. May no jew ever turn his back on a jew again

  • Lakewood February 17, 2010, 9:39 PM

    Holy sh*t I just saw this brilliant post on Matzav.com .
    I hate to give them more traffic but for all those pleading for sanity in the frum world, just check out what you’re up against.


    • Meir February 18, 2010, 2:23 AM

      On the plus side, at least the comments seem at least leaning towards calling out the idiocy of what Matzav is trying to do there.

  • Adam February 18, 2010, 1:21 AM

    Unfortunately your premise that the majority of inmates on death row and those being executed are black is false.

    The majority of those on death row as well as the number executed since 1976 is of the white skin color.

    I’d like to point out that RussianJew took the 44.4% of whites executed and attributed it to blacks.

    This is the link that RussianJew posted http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/race-death-row-inmates-executed-1976#deathrowpop
    and this is from the Florida Department of Corrections http://www.dc.state.fl.us/activeinmates/deathrowroster.asp
    Again as with nationally in the state of Florida the majority of people on death row are white.

    If you want your argument to stand up the facts have to back it.

    • Jew for Justice February 18, 2010, 12:49 PM

      No one ever said that the majority of people executed are black. You made that up so that you can disagree with it. If you are going to argue, please bother to read what I said first.

      Black people are executed disproportionally for the same crimes. Black people also commit disproportionally more crimes than white people, and so it would make sense for them to be executed disproportionally to their percentage of society. However, if they are executed disproportionally for the same crimes that white people commit then skin color becomes a factor in the statistics of who gets the death penalty and that is something which can not be tolerated in a country such as ours. Especially not in something as weighty as state sponsored executions. White people are executed more overall because there are more of them.

      That is a fact.

    • RussianJew February 18, 2010, 12:59 PM

      You’re right, I did accidentally quote the statistic for white death row inmates 44.4%. The black percentage of death row inmates is 41.6%. It is still far higher than the black population in America around 12 or 13%. And in no way does that mistake detract from my argument that it is possible that black people are overrepresented on death row because they lack a supportive family structure.
      The premise is not that the majority are black, the premise of the argument is that the percentage is far higher than normally expected.

      • John February 18, 2010, 1:04 PM

        Although this is all aside from the topic, you of course realsie that you cant compare the percentage of blacks on death row, to the percentage in the country. Obviously you mean to compare the percentage of blacks on death row to the percantge of blacks convicted of murder, vis a vis the percantage of whites in those categories. Dont worry the numbers (as i recall) will still allow your point to be made.

  • Avrumy February 18, 2010, 1:47 PM

    It’s all moot. He was executed. As he deserved to be.
    Good riddance.

  • Phil February 18, 2010, 2:05 PM

    Baruch dayan emet.

  • Good Riddance February 18, 2010, 2:23 PM

    No loss. Nefesh tachat Nefesh. Last weeks parsha !

  • susitna February 18, 2010, 3:35 PM

    I am anti-capital punishment, for all the reasons that you stated. It doesn’t solve the problem, and as a society, you run the risk of executing an innocent. These two points outweigh any other argument, in my mind.

    The only good thing I’ve seen come from the death penalty came recently. In my home state of Alaska (which has no death penalty), a man killed a nurse in 2007, stole her ATM card, and used it to withdraw $1000 from her bank account. The ATM card made the allegations fall under Federal law, and he was charged with her murder in Federal court. This particular man had previously been acquitted of murder in 2003 (there were some evidence problems; he was convicted of evidence tampering in related charges). Federal prosecutors made it clear that they would seek the death penalty. What ended up happening is that the man plead guilty in State court to the 2007 murder and also admitted to the 2000 murder in a plea deal to avoid execution. He’s been sentenced to 99 years in State prison for the murder, as well as 99 years in Federal prison for the other charges. There’s no chance he’ll leave custody in anything other than a casket, and now two families have closure.

    Had it not been for the threat of paying for his crime with his life, he would not have plead guilty. He may even have managed another acquittal, as there is some evidence that he at least attempted tampering with witnesses. The fact of the matter is people who are capable of murder and commit murder also believe that they will not be punished. It doesn’t matter to them what the potential consequences are at the time of their actions; in their minds, there will be no consequences unless they get very unlucky and get caught and they’re unsuccessful in convincing a jury that the prosecutors haven’t proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They don’t consider what might happen until the act is already over and they’re in jail.

    There’s no deterrent in the world capable of stopping a sociopath.

  • LP February 19, 2010, 11:31 AM

    Great, well written post!

  • MadMaxInJerusalem February 23, 2010, 7:15 AM

    All I can say is where is the Jewish community for Jonathan Pollard?

    And of course we know that the real reason those kids in Japan got arrested for drug smuggling was because the Jewish women in London don’t dress Tzenuah enough ( yeah, people where actually claiming that ).

    One more thing:

    R’ M. Feinstein & Maharam Shick:Legitimacy of capital punishment

  • Deenz March 1, 2010, 9:36 PM

    What you said was only too true.

    Why all of the sudden have Jews started petitioning and voicing their outcry against the death penalty? First of all, the Gemorah has specific guidelines for murderers, mental retardation or no mental retardation, and in accordance with halacha, there is ultimately a fair and just punishment if you commit murder: death.
    Second of all, the judicial system is extremely flawed and corrupt; there are numerous cases in which over 100 inmates on death row were found to be innocent, according to this link- http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-list-those-freed-death-row . Over 100 people slated for the death penalty for a crime that they didn’t commit, and these are only the cases we are aware of! There have been cases proven of inmates executed that were later exonerated, and there are probably hundreds that we will never know about. Where was the Jewish brethren, pouring their hearts and neshamos out davening for the poor lost souls who were so unfairly tried and persecuted because of their race, religion, mental status, and lack of education?!? Sadly as we know, not one Yid has raised one voice for abolishing the death penalty. While these inmates lived in fear that their last meal was all too near, our Jewish brother were probably at another hearing for one of our own, a “Frum” Yid’s court case, decrying the “blatant racism” and “blood libels” because this “religious” person was brought to justice for crimes he committed against humanity such as theft, molestation, domestic abuse, etc.
    And why? Because there are no Cohens on that list. There are no Goldsteins on that list. Their are no Schmidts, Levy’s, or Steins on that list. This is blatant racism and discrimination
    The only people who have any right to make an outcry are the incredible Jews who work in the justice system as counsel and solace for our fellow Jews who lost their way in life. And no, I am not talking about the ones who pay off guards to have their sons bar mitzva in prison.
    No matter if you are a Justin, Jamal, Jose, Boris, or Yankel, people do murder, steal, rape, and commit crimes against humanity. What is the reason behind one’s temptation to break the law of the state is up for debate; However, what is not up for debate is the fact that Martin Grossman brutally murdered a woman who was a daughter, sister, aunt, and wife. If the perpetrator was a Shvartza (excuse my language) and the woman was a Jew, how many thousands of petitions and insane posts on Yeshiva World do you think would be posted to bring the N***** to death in the name of justic?
    Exactly my point. Jews want to be criminals and not get caught, but if they do, the systems is racist and unfair.
    These people not only want to eat their cake and have it too, but demand to be treated how they want to be treated and never be held accountable for their actions.
    To me, THIS BEHAVIOR is unfair, unjust, brimming with racism, and is simply disgusting.
    I am a frum Jew, and never have a felt such a lack of community as I do now.

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