- Capital Punishment and Human Rights and Liberties’ Violations
- The Codification of Morality and U.N. Charter
- Capital Punishment: The Issue of the Inhuman Nature of the Practice
- Capital Punishment: The Issue of the Fairness of the Judicial Process
- Deterrence Factor
- The Condition of Prevailing Unjust Justice System
- International Scenario and Stance on Capital Punishment
This paper will look at the capital punishment as it applies to cost, deterrence, and the innocence of the accused. It will discuss these issues as it applies to the overall benefit of abolishing the death penalty all together. It would also discuss and evaluate large scale violations of human rights and liberties.
Capital punishment violates human rights and therefore cannot be justified for any reason. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every human has the inalienable right to life and the right not to be tortured or subjected to any cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. The death penalty is not always smooth and painless, and therefore it is torture.
Every legal system is fallible, and it would therefore be very possible for innocent lives to be extinguished. The death penalty can be unfairly administered to the poor and minorities. The death penalty does nothing to improve society as it takes away any chance of rehabilitation and redemption. The death of a criminal is not for humans to decide, and will only serve as revenge for the victims, not justice.
Capital Punishment and Human Rights and Liberties’ Violations
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the inalienable right to life1. It is a clear breach of this right if the death penalty is used. This right cannot be forfeited even by committing a crime. The death penalty only serves the purpose of revenge, not justice.
The relatives of criminals do not usually support the death penalty because they ‘know’ the person and circumstances and feel that it is not warranted. The death penalty is more likely to be supported by the victims of crime who go by the “eye for an eye” ideology of revenge. However, the purpose of the legal system is not to deal out revenge, but justice. The death penalty is just state-sanctioned murder and revenge.
Every human has the right “to not be tortured or subject to any, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.” 1 Yet methods of capital punishment such as stoning, lethal injection and electrocution, are painful and slow, and can be classified as torture. They are also inhumane; prisoners are faced with the humiliation of being executed by firing squad in front of the public and their relatives are not told until after the execution.
Capital punishment violates human rights because as they are created by humans, all legal systems are fallible. It is extremely unwise to have the death penalty because there is always the possibility of error. It is unacceptable that even one innocent person could be executed. Where the presumption of innocence holds true, a guilty man walking free should be preferred to an innocent man being wrongfully convicted.
Since 1973, 122 death-row prisoners in America have been released due to evidence proving their innocence. In Vietnam the trial process does not meet international standards. Despite the existence of the International Right that “every law shall prohibit… discrimination on any ground such as race, color, sex, language, religion, opinion, origin, property, birth or other status”,2 the death penalty is unfair as it is disproportionately administered.
Furthermore, the use of capital punishment violates various aspects of human rights. After World War II the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to live. Therefore, as the USA is a pioneer country of the United Nations, the government should consider the existence of the death penalty as a contradiction to the United Nations objectives.
Another important document which prohibits the use of capital punishment is “The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”, which states:” every human being has an inherent right to live, which shall be protected by law, and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life”.3
Consequently, the abolitionist movement has increased over the past years, monitored by the United Nations. The USA should also join the abolitionist countries because the existence of capital punishment continues to set it apart from the United Nations.
In addition to that, there are certain human rights violations in the death penalty system itself. An issue related study concluded that “post-mortem thiopental concentrations in the blood of 43 of 49 executed inmates were lower than those needed for surgical anesthesia and 21 episodes were consistent with awareness”. 4
Offenders’ organs are used like the cheap base of supply without their permission. To conclude, if such violations do happen, they are degrading and inhuman; therefore, the USA should abolish capital punishment not only because of the United Nations but also for the welfare of the country’s citizens.
The death penalty is the incorrect way of punishing offenders, as it doesn’t act as a deterrent and provides the possibility for executing the innocent; thus human rights are ignored. Additionally, it is not clear whether the USA Constitution allows.
If capital punishment was abolished and replaced by other alternative, such as live imprisonment, which is cheaper than the execution process, 5both sides would benefit of even lower homicide rates. In addition to that, people would feel secure that nothing could take away the most important inherent right-to live.
In April 1965, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), after wrestling with the problem for several years, revised its position on capital punishment and introduced its new policy with these words:
“… Capital punishment is so inconsistent with the underlying values of a democratic system that the imposition of the death penalty for any crime is a denial of civil liberties. We believe that past decisions to the contrary are in error, and we will seek the repeal of existing laws imposing the death penalty, and will seek reversal of convictions carrying a sentence of death.” 6
This policy statement is significant primarily because it comes from the one national organization devoted to interpreting and securing enforcement of the Bill of Rights as a living force in American life. If the ACLU thinks capital punishment is unconstitutional, perhaps it is. This is unprecedented recognition by the courts of the possible conflict between civil liberties and capital punishment.
Capital punishment constitutes denial of “due process” in the sense of denying the person under death sentence the right to full pursuit of post-conviction, post-appellate, and retroactive remedies?
In cases where the penalty has been carried out, and where post-conviction proceedings would prove the conviction improper, capital punishment denies the fundamental remedy that is still available to those in prison: release and in some cases exoneration and indemnification.
Very incomplete records indicate that there is, on the average, one case every other year in the United States involving someone who was convicted of a capital crime but not executed and who either vindicates his innocence and is freed or at least establishes the unfairness of his conviction. 7
If the availability of a remedy is the test of the presence of a right, then capital punishment as it is actually administered has been steadily in violation of offenders’ rights.
The Supreme Court is charged, by the Eighth Amendment, to judge whether a given punishment is “cruel and unusual,” and it cannot escape this responsibility. The occasional obiter dicta of earlier years on behalf of the death penalty are hardly sufficient today.
They are not even squarely in point, since in no case to date has the Court been faced directly with the issue of capital punishment as such and its alleged unusual cruelty.
Furthermore, after decades of relative restraint on any number of issues touching basic rights expressly and by implication guaranteed to an under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, the courts have acted to restore what legislatures, administrative agencies, and other arms of executive power have ignored or denied.
As in most legislative policies affecting civil liberties and civil rights, there are limits to what even the most enlightened appellate courts can do when left adrift by the other branches of government. On the matter of capital punishment, those limits may have been reached, at least for the moment, in Gregg and Woodson.
The Codification of Morality and U.N. Charter
The codification of morality on the death penalty began back in 1948 when the U.N. Charter stated in article 6 that “everyone has the right to life.”8Many political, religious, media and non governmental elites such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have supported this document. Since the Declaration 118 members of the U.N. have abolished the death penalty. 9
Because the Declaration was a non-binding treaty, many nations felt that other nations would have no motivation to follow it. In 1966 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted. It now has 152 ratifications. 10With so many states, especially modern industrial states, signing the agreement it puts pressure on other states to consider abolishing the death penalty as well.
In this modern age of communications where everyone knows what everyone else is doing around the world, modern elites, or those that aspire to be considered modern, don’t want to be perceived as uncivilized. In the Covenant there is a strong suggestion that all U.N. members abolish the death penalty and that if that is not immediately followed that “the sentence of death may be imposed only for serious crimes.”11
To put added moral pressure on elites the Covenant also created a Human Rights Committee to check on how states are implementing the Covenant. In 1991 an Optional Protocol was added because many nations thought the “abolition of the death penalty contributed to the enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights.” 12
This addition would only allow the death penalty in times of war. The agreement also requires states that sign it to submit reports to the Human Rights Committee on how they are implementing the agreement.
In addition to the 1991 agreement, the U.N. Commission On Human Rights has appointed a Special Rapporteur on the usage of the death penalty around the world. The findings of the Special Rapporteur are picked up by the media elite who then shine a media spotlight on those elites that are outside the standards of the codified morality.
These elites who are educated and well off, meet regularly at the UN, international gatherings and private meetings and are increasingly scrutinized at the media at press conferences. Again the pressure on the egos of these elites to be thought of in a positive light, especially on the issue of the death penalty is growing. In an era of mass communications national elites are more aware of their place in the world and how the rest of the world views them.
For example, in 2004 nine former top U.S Foreign Service officers made a special presentation before the U.S. Supreme Court calling for an end to the death penalty, in part because of the increasing political isolation of the U.S. as a result of “daily and growing criticism from the international community” over the use of the death penalty in the U.S. In the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Atkins v. Virginia, the court acknowledged the importance of international opinion and agreements in setting the standards of morality. 13
In terms of the issue of morality, elites are also feeling pressure from religious elites to abolish the death penalty. Most members of the Catholic Church want the death penalty, but the elites that control the church are against it. 14
Not only do religious elites pressure other religious elites, but they actively push the issue with non- religious elites as well. For example the former Pope had numerous meetings with foreign elites and often pressured them to abolish the death penalty in their country.
In January of 1999 on a visit to St. Louis, Missouri, Pope John Paul II gave a speech calling the death penalty “cruel and unnecessary.” He then convinced hard line capital punishment advocate Missouri governor Mel Carnahan to stop the execution of Darrell Mease and change his sentence to life imprisonment.
Clearly with the pressure of the media elite and in this case a member of the religious elite the governor didn’t want to be viewed as an uncivilized person in terms of the changing world codification of morality on this issue.
Capital Punishment is morally wrong and sometimes dangerously mistaken. Imagine you are sitting in the front row of a small room, seated in a chair designed for comfort, looking through the small window and watching as they strap your brother to the metal table.
Your mother, beside you, is crying hysterically while your sister attempts to comfort her. You watch with sad eyes, as your brother dies alone on that metal slab. You look away, unable to watch anymore, but instead see the woman behind you smile as your brother is murdered, and you feel sick to your stomach at this madness. Has this new death actually righted a wrong? Capital Punishment is unjust and the US should abolish it.
Capital Punishment: The Issue of the Inhuman Nature of the Practice
In addition to morality, another reason for the sudden international increase in momentum towards abolishing the death penalty is the increasing perception that the death penalty is barbaric and uncivilized. The idea of what is considered “Barbaric” and “uncivilized” has changed over time.
In the U.S. there have been a number of cases where in electrocutions the person was smoking and shaking for more than 30 minutes and the person was still alive. With hangings prisoners have been decapitated and some have had to be hung several times.
Because of international pressure the courts have continually stepped in to limit what crimes can be considered for the death penalty. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that still has teen executions. The international political, religious and media elites have put continuous pressure on the U.S. to stop executing teenagers.
Under this pressure the U.S. Supreme Court finally gave in an abolished at the end of 2005 the death penalty for those who commit crimes before they turn. 15
By attacking individual cases the pressure of world elites has reduced the possible uses of the death penalty to a very few cases. If the trend continues the death penalty may eventually disappear in all cases. This is all taking place at a time when the masses of the world still support the use of the death penalty.
Capital Punishment: The Issue of the Fairness of the Judicial Process
The judicial process in the U.S. has been the subject of many attacks by the international community and at home for alleged problems with blacks, the poor and other disadvantaged groups getting a fair trial. But the issue that is really putting pressure on political and judicial elites to reconsider the death penalty is the problem of wrongful convictions.
Of the 2,370 retrials of people convicted of murder over the last 34 years over 80% or retried inmates turned out not to deserve the death penalty; 7% were innocent. 16Many hardcore pro death penalty elites in the U.S., such as Indiana Governor Joe Kernan, are re-examining their positions.
The significance of human rights and liberties to life may be highlighted from this fact that Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights evidently narrates: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
It is on this foundation that several anti-capital punishment activists convince for their perspective, by asserting that the government blatantly disregards the sacredness of human life by prohibiting the criminals their admitted and recognized right to live.
Furthermore, there are also those who maintain that the capital punishment is duplicitous because whereas it sends out a message that assassination is a crime that should be considered damned and must be reproached; the government is doing specifically what it denounces by executing the criminal.
Yet, others bring out the apparent vainness of executing criminals; they advocate clemency and peace, and scorn the capital punishment for its ostensible emphasis on retribution.
There is very little valid evidence to suggest that capital punishment deters criminals. Some emotionally ill people would see death as the only route to freedom, so the death penalty does not deter them at all.
A better deterrent is needed, which would make finding the culprit easier and quicker, making it impossible for criminals to get away with what they have done. If such a deterrent was found then criminals would have second thoughts of committing the crime because they would think that they might get caught. Criminals, who plan their crimes very carefully, won’t be deterred by the death sentence because they would believe that they won’t be caught.
Delay is also what makes capital punishment less of a deterrent, because it minimizes the chances of a convicted criminal ever being executed. Usually when a person is sentenced to death, it would take years until he/she would be executed. In the U.S. it takes an average of three years for, a so called capital case, to work its way up to the highest court.
If an appeal is made it would delay the execution by five to ten years. Murder cannot be cured by murder. The death penalty is cruel, inhumane and above all irreversible. It does not deter and isn’t as effective as life imprisonment.
Hugo A. Bedau, professor of philosophy at Tufts University says, ‘The death penalty guarantees that the person on whom it is inflicted will commit no more crimes. He is prevented, not deterred, from so doing. But death is too high a price to pay when studies show that convicted murderers rarely commit another violent crime.
To prevent the occasional repeat murder, everyone convicted of criminal homicide would have to be executed- a policy too brutal to consider and one that would require dozens of legal killings each day.’ The United Nations began urging worldwide abolition on the grounds that every human has an inherent right to life.
The fact that there is no evidence to support the view that it deters criminals is irreversible and an inhumane punishment suggests that capital punishment should be abolished worldwide.
Many supporters of the death penalty argue that it is only fair to kill a murderer. They believe in the principle “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” (16). It is very easy to assert that this is the right thing to do because this is what the bible tells us. I do not necessarily believe in every single word that is said in this book, but if someone argues for the death penalty by quoting from the bible, I can counter argue by also citing from it.
Jesus claimed, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” 17 He also said, “Love your enemies and those who persecute you” 18
It is mendacious, if people try to reinforce their statements by quoting from the bible, although they obviously have not even read it thoroughly. Death penalty as revenge and retribution cannot be morally justified. How can it be vindicated that people create violence in order to fight against violence?
After eating his last meal, a cheeseburger, Clifton Beylue, a murderer, fashioned his last words “God help you because what you are doing here today makes you no better than any other man or woman on death row across this country”. 19
We murder to take care of another murder. It really doesn’t make much sense to practice revenge as a form of dealing with the loss of another. Although it is in our instincts to inflict pain on those who commit a crime, or make us feel bad, the standards of a mature society should demand for a more measured response.
It is assumed that the United States Justice System is flawless and has the correct resources to provide tangible evidence to claim a person guilty. The truth is, our system “is so fraught with error that it should be abolished” in all to prevent unfair trials.
For one, the death penalty does not single out the worst offenders. Almost all defendants facing death row cannot find an attorney to represent them. Serial killers, such as Gary Ridge Way, admitted to killing 48 prostitutes and runaways; he got life in prison.
A nurse in New Jersey killed 17 people and got life in prison. Meanwhile, mentally ill and poor murderers who could not afford good lawyers and did not attract much media were given the death penalty. 20 Death row inmates do not all get fair trials; they usually face economic problems or are represented by attorneys who often do not care much for the case. 21
If the death penalty will be applied in the U.S, it should be applied justly and have no exceptions, but to obtain a faulty-free system, many aspects would have to be changed. Because such kinds of factors cannot be monitored, abolishment of the death penalty, in all, should be made.
The death is irreversible, there’s no room for the many mistakes that have been found in regards to those prosecuted. Sometimes confessions are later found to be forced by police or made by mentally ill defendants. Suicides and accidents are sometimes mistaken for murders, leading to convictions. “The reasons miscarriages of justice occur in the criminal justice system are varied as they are disturbing”. 22
The Condition of Prevailing Unjust Justice System
Many people argue that capital punishment is the right penalty for murderers because they trust in the justice system of the United States. They assert that any person who is put on trial can have a lawyer, can go back to court at any time if there is new evidence found. Thus, these citizens trust in the system, believing that only guilty people become condemned.
Unfortunately, this assumption is not correct. The past has shown that it is not an exception that innocents conceive the death sentence. In 1950, Timothy Evans was hung for the murder of his daughter. Today, detectives are almost certain that John Christie – also executed for the murder of seven persons – was the real assassin in this case. This is only one of many known cases in which the convict was innocent.
The justice system failed once again. Furthermore, it is also possible that people become executed, although they cannot be held responsible for their actions. In some states in the U.S. murderer can be condemned even though they might have a mental illness.
Another argument that is always mentioned in the explanation statement for capital punishment is that it is supposed to be a deterrent for assassinations. However, scientific studies did not show any prove for a deterrent effect of capital punishment, nor does the abolition of the death penalty cause an increase in crimes and murders.
As stated from Amnesty International, “Research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment and such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming. The death penalty is irreversible.
As already mentioned, people were falsely convicted of murder and were killed consequently. A justice system cannot guarantee the reliability of conviction. Thus, the state might kill even more innocent people. Besides, a convict who murders today is not the same in 10 years. That does not mean that we should forget about what he/she has done, but some of them deserve at least a second chance.
One of the main benefits of abolishing the death penalty is the immediate financial gain each state receives. In 1988, Dr. Harold G Grasmick and Dr. Robert Bursik, Jr. found that the general support for the death penalty dropped from over 80.2% to 64.6% if the cost of the death penalty was more than the cost of life imprisonment. Life imprisonment is far from cheap; but the cost is much less than the death penalty.
In a report from the US Judicial Conference, it was reported that in cases where the death penalty was pursued costs were 4 times higher than cases where it was not. In cases involving the death penalty the state prosecutors’ costs were 67% higher than the defense costs.
This is not including costs incurred by law enforcement for investigative purposes. On average, the trials for death cases cost about $508,000 while the trials for non-death cases cost $32,000. Based on statistics from the US Department of Justice, as of 2001 there were 3,557 people in prison under the sentence of death.
These trials cost an estimated $1,806,956,000. With the abolition of capital punishment, this number would be reduced to approximately $113,824,000 a savings of $1,693,132,000. This money could be used to improve social conditions that would potentially decrease crime in the inner cities.
Supporters of capital punishment like to tout the death penalty as a deterrent to crime. The only problem with this claim is that the facts do not back this statement up. In 2002, the FBI released a uniform crime report that said the murder rate in the South had increased by 2.1% while the murder rate in the Northeast had decreased by roughly 5%.
The South has accounted for 82% of all executions since 1976 while the Northeast accounts for less than 1%. If capital punishment were a true deterrent to crime, those states with higher numbers of executions would have lower or declining murder rates. In the majority of states with the death penalty, this is just not the case and in many instances is the opposite. The death penalty just does not deter criminals from committing murder.
The most upsetting aspect of the death penalty is the way it is handled by the justice system. On average there are nine people exonerated from death row every year with many more filing viable appeals. The justice system is not infallible so many innocent men have been sent to their death due to unfortunate circumstances. The execution of an innocent convict is no different from the murder of the innocent that they are being punished for.
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. If on average one person out 100 people on death row were innocent, we would be morally obligated to not execute anyone in order to save that one life. The whole premise of capital punishment is justice for the murder of the innocent. For someone to say that they would rather have one or two innocent people die in order to punish those guilty of harming the innocent is the height of hypocrisy.
The death penalty is an archaic form of punishment that has no place in civilized society. There are no other advanced countries other than US on earth that still practice capital punishment. For the United States to be leaders in this world, we must set an example of how a society should act.
We need not participate in barbaric forms of bloodlust in order to satiate a primitive desire for violence. Constitutional separation of powers also establishes important prerogatives for the states vis-à-vis the federal government, and this in turn permits conservative opponents to resist federal and global human rights norms.
The ideology of states’ rights, as we have seen, has been an important tool for domestic opponents to international human rights treaties, and underlying this apparently principled defense of states’ rights was a distinct substantive agenda. Federal institutions have played a decisive role in the nagging issue of capital punishment.
International Scenario and Stance on Capital Punishment
The death penalty, or capital punishment, is the kind of punishment where the criminal or offenders life is ended. For many years, the issue of whether governments all over the world should apply the death penalty as the highest punishment has been hotly debated.
Some argue that capital punishment is one of the best ways to reduce the crime rate and allow justice to be done. However, it, in fact, is not. There is a wide range of arguments against the death penalty including its risk of executing innocent people, its ineffectiveness in reducing the murder rate, and finally the fact that it hurts and ignores executioners’ human rights and feelings.
Advocates of capital punishment claim that the death penalty has power to hold back crimes. But, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput warns: Still, killing the killer is not the answer.
The death penalty may provide us with a momentary sense of vengeance, but it won’t bring back the lives of innocent victims. And in our quest to “send a message” to would–be criminals, we also send a disastrous signal to our children. We teach them that the problem of violence can be solved by more violence.23
An ex-prison officer in Osaka complains about how it is hard to carry out a sentence; he says that people should think of their position. They murder condemned criminals under the pretense of official duties. It may be true that they committed crimes, but they live a life quietly, going by the rules now.
Victims must have a grudge against them and want to say that they must be hateful. In the same way, people who state capital punishment should not be abolished can say so because they are not in a position to execute. They never kill condemned criminals with their own hands. We should put ourselves in the prison officers’ place.
In the United States there have been many hangings during the Salem Witch trials, and years there after. As years went by, capital punishment has become more “humane” and less horrid compared to the past. Although less crude, capital punishment is and never will be the right solution to the killing of another man.
The morality of this form of castigation has been debated among society for many decades. Out of the many factors that play a role in capital punishment, its effectiveness, justice, deterrence, and cost are just a few.
In conclusion, there is no way that capital punishment can be justified in relation to human rights. Every human has the right to life and the right not to be tortured or subjected to any, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. The death penalty can be torture as it rarely is smooth and painless.
All legal systems are fallible, so executing an innocent person is not hard to imagine happening. Corrupt politicians can use it to suit their own agendas. The death penalty does not allow criminals a chance to redeem themselves. Legal systems need to protect the public and punish criminals, but the punishment of execution is unnecessary and immoral – it breaches human rights.
Capital punishment uses the basis of commit the crime, be proven guilty then lose rights to live. This is highly controversial with human rights activists, as they believe it is too extreme to take the life of another as punishment for a crime.
When capital punishment was in action, there were ideas that, the possibility of punishment by death would act as a deterrent for criminals. But, as human lives were being taken in an attempt to reduce the number of crimes, human rights activists got involved over the years in a number of attempts to shut down the use of capital punishment in the judicial systems.
To kill or not to kill, that is the question. For a long time, human rights activists tussled with governments over the application of capital punishment. In the U.S. especially, they actively protest against what they call ‘a crime against humanity’, lobbying Congress, and staging demonstrations.
They were so effective that capital punishment, which was once legal in the States, was driven out of several states altogether. Elsewhere, it is much more peaceful, but the issue still remains, tugging at the conscience and moral fiber of the people.
Capital Punishment has not always been under control of the states. Throughout the years Capital Punishment has been under many limitations, and they only seem to be growing. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights limits who and how the death penalty can be used. It protects juveniles, pregnant women, and the elderly proclaiming a “right to life” doctrine.
The greatest restrictions on the death penalty in the United States have come not from the United Nations, but from American courts, which have repeatedly had to rule that the death penalty was being administered unfairly. For years, black people in the American South were executed in disproportionate numbers because no blacks were allowed on juries in capital cases.
Then prosecutors were allowed to present any sort of argument for capital punishment, but the defense was not allowed to present matters in mitigation. At one time, it was not even considered mandatory that a person tried in a capital case had to be guaranteed an attorney.
The death penalty does not give criminals the opportunity to redeem themselves or get rehabilitated. Whatever the crime, the criminal should be given a chance to lead a normal life after their sentence has been served. Stanley Williams, in the US, was convicted of the murder of four people and was sent to death row.
While in prison, although he maintained his innocence, he saw the errors in his way of life, wrote books and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nevertheless, he was not granted clemency and was executed.
This person made a genuine attempt to redeem himself but was executed anyway. The death penalty should be abolished because criminals in death row are not even encouraged to change their behavior for their own moral benefit let alone for the rest of society.
Even though the world seems evenly split on the issue, a significant momentum has been built in the last few years that should see the eventual abolishment of the death around the world within a decade or two. The push is coming from political, economic, religious, media and judicial elites, especially from Europe.
These elites have the power to ignore the majority of the wishes of their citizens even in a democracy. The issues of morality, the inhuman nature of the death penalty and the fairness of judicial processes are the main drivers of this momentum.
Modern communications shines an intense light on their activities and values and quickly broadcasts it to the rest of the world. In addition to the condification of morality, there is a growing consensus around the world about what is considered barbaric and uncivilized with regards to the practice of the death penalty.
Stoning women for adultery, executing children under 18 and other unacceptable practices clearly won’t be tolerated by the world. In our interconnected technological world even the most brutal dictator now has public relations people and is concerned with being described as barbaric and uncivilized. The exposure of these flaws and the intense publicity has led many diehard defenders of the death penalty to publicly question their beliefs.
Whether or not the death penalty is a cruel and unusual form of punishment, it is highly controversial. We can indulge in conversations about the morals and ethics of each individual, and come up with a thousand points that suit our personal opinions.
Yet, when we focus on the economic statistics collecting evidence of the pointlessness of carrying out an execution, there’s no escape. Sentencing a prisoner to death row costs much more that keeping a defendant in prison or life. It makes much more sense to let these men and women sit in jail, making them work, than to honestly relieve them of their wrongful life, because that’s what we are doing when we put them to death.
A more rational matter of dealing with these people should be considered. We’re acting like barbarians, we kill each other and, instead of just mourning the victim, we seek revenge and become just like those murderers. When asked whether or not they are against the death penalty, polls revealed that people generally do not know what to answer, then, when given possible alternatives, the vote for abolishment of the death penalty usually increases.
This is because it makes more sense to have individuals incarcerated for life, and during that time be given jobs that will not only provide the government good use of the prisoner, but allow some purpose in their lives; allow them to endure the punishment they deserve.
Part of their earnings could pay for their imprisonment and the other could go to recompense funds for the families of the murder victims. Just because we aren’t physically conducting the death sentence doesn’t mean we aren’t guilty as well. We are continuing a chain of violence with the help of the state. Our judicial system isn’t even justly persecuting these individuals and our money isn’t being put to good use.
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“Medical collusion in the death penalty: an American atrocity.” Lancet March 16 2005:1361.
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1 Cavanagh, Suzanne, and David Teasley. Capital Punishment: A Brief Overview. CRS Report For Congress 95-505GOV (1995): 4.
2 Frame, Randy. A Matter Of Life and Death. Christianity Today 14 Aug. 1995: 50
3 Mukherjee, Armita. “The ICCPR as a ‘Living Instrument’: The Death Penalty as Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.” Journal of Criminal Law Dec 2004:507,519.
4 “Medical collusion in the death penalty: an American atrocity.” Lancet March 16 2005:1361.
5 Hanks, Gardner. Against the Death Penalty. Scotdalle: Herald Press, 1997.
6 Civil Liberties ( June 1965): 2. ACLU Feature Press Service Weekly Bulletin No. 2237, 12 July 1965, and ACLU Annual Report 45 (1966): 78-79.
7 Hugo Adam Bedau: 1975: “Murder, Errors of Justice, and Capital Punishment,” in The Death Penalty, at p. 434.
8 Bedau, A. Hugo (1982) The Death Penalty in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
9 Zimring, E. Franklin (2003). The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment. New York: Oxford University Press.
10 Banner, Stuart (2002). The Death Penalty: An American History. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
11 Latzer, Barry (1997). Death Penalty Cases: Leading U.S. Supreme Court Cases on Capital Punishment. Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann.
12 Bessler, D. John (2003). Kiss of Death: America’s Love Affair With the Death Penalty. Massachusetts: Northeastern University Press.
13 Friedman, M. Lawrence (1994). Crime and Punishment in American History. Colorado: Basic Books.
14 Bernardin. “Death penalty target of Catholic leaders.” National Catholic Reporter. 16 May 1997: 1-2.
15 “Facts About the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center. 15 Mar. 2007. 1 pp. March 31. 2008
16 “Facts About the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center. 15 Mar. 2007. 1 pp. March 31. 2008
17 Bible. Matthew 5:37-44.
18 Bible. Matthew 5:37-44.
19 Lifton, Robert, Mitchell, Greg. (2000) Who Owns Death? Capital Punishment, The American Conscience, and the End of Executions. New York: HarperCollins Publisher, Inc.
20 Lifton, Robert, Mitchell, Greg. (2000) Who Owns Death? Capital Punishment, The American Conscience, and the End of Executions. New York: HarperCollins Publisher, Inc.
21 Lifton, Robert, Mitchell, Greg. (2000) Who Owns Death? Capital Punishment, The American Conscience, and the End of Executions. New York: HarperCollins Publisher, Inc.
22 Lifton, Robert, Mitchell, Greg. (2000) Who Owns Death? Capital Punishment, The American Conscience, and the End of Executions. New York: HarperCollins Publisher, Inc.
23 Chaput, Charles J. “Killing the killer is not the solution.” Japan-life issues 2001. OMI.