OCTOBER 16, 1953
NEW YORK, Thursday—I left New York Tuesday morning and flew to Toronto, only stopping in Buffalo. It seemed a very short flight and it was a most beautiful day, so one could get a glimpse of Niagara Falls and the beautiful color in the trees below.
I was met at the airport by General Gibson, head of the correction institutions in Canada, and my friend, Mrs. Geraldine Thompson, and several others. We went at once to the hotel and almost before I knew it I was at a luncheon composed of the wardens of institutions of correction and people interested in prison parole and probation.
There is a custom in Canada which I knew nothing of. When the main speaker, who was Judge Flood from Philadelphia, finished his speech, I was told it was customary for someone to answer and would I please thank him and make a few comments. This was really camouflage for a second speech, but I made it fairly brief as I knew the time had come when other meetings were beginning for the afternoon.
I had a press conference immediately after lunch, then a meeting at three o'clock with the people who, under Mrs. Thompson's direction, were planning to ask me questions after my dinner speech at night. Finally at three-thirty a recording and one television screening for later use.
At four o'clock a meeting was held of those who had been associated with the effort made against capital punishment being retained in our country. Many countries in the world have wiped out capital punishment, the main reason being that those who deal with criminals feel that capital punishment does not prevent crime. Someone told me that the great majority of crimes are committed under conditions which mean that the individual is not thinking at all about possible consequences.
It has always seemed to me that capital punishment, the taking of human life by other human beings after a judgment passed by human beings, was quite wrong. We know that often human justice, no matter how hard we try to make it the wisest possible judgment, may be faulty. Years afterwards people have been found not guilty who were adjudged guilty by juries of their peers or by a judge who evidently did his best with the evidence before him.
That being the case, it seems to me almost impossible to take it upon ourselves to decide on the right of someone to live. We may decide on separation from society until innocence can be proved, but I do not think capital punishment is justified any longer in any country.