Capital Punishment; Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty
Pros and Cons of the Death Penalty
Public opinion and passions are sharply divided among supporters and protestors of capital punishment, also known as the "death penalty". To dissenters it is a government sanctioned murder, the premeditated and planned taking of a human life.
Arguing against capital punishment, Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the ultimate violation of human rights. The state's cold blooded killing; a cruel and inhumane form of punishment in the name of justice.
To supporters, capital punishment is justified when viewed through the eyes of the victims. They believe that society not only have the right, but is duty bound to act in self defense to protect the innocent and prevent the murderers from ever killing again.
Because of the present of aggravating circumstances when the crime was committed, the offender " have earned the ultimate punishment society has to offer."
But to the Catholic church, " The death penalty diminishes all of us, increases disrespect for human life, and offers the tragic illusion that we can teach that killing is wrong by killing."
Capital punishment or the "Death penalty"
Although most countries in the world have abolish the death penalty, a majority of people still live under it's threat of punishment, since the most populous nations like China,India,Indonesia and the United States still have capital punishment.
It still exist in jurisprudence despite the growing movement to have it abolish.The United Nations, in 1977 issued a resolution for the elimination of the death penalty. Calling for more humane forms of punishment, pro-life supporters argue against the practice base on moral and practical reason.
In place of the electric chair and gas chamber the method of lethal injection was adopted. A far cry from early period of human civilization when a person was first subjected to torture before being put to death.The stake burnings of accused, drawing and quartering, or flaying people alive were horrific practices which would have exceeded the "eye for an eye" justification. Clearly going beyond retribution and more inclined to man's sadistic and vengeful nature.
So where do we draw the line between justice and punitive measures.What is the death penalty's role in the "humane" evolution of addressing the need of grievances seeking reparation? Like Shylock's dilemma, how do we determine the "pound of flesh".
This hub is neither for nor against the death penalty
We all have our own belief on the pros and cons of the death penalty.
It is an emotional issue and I respect the reader's personal feelings.
This article was written because of a recent event in my life that put into question the penal code governing crime and their punishment. What is the death penalty's real purpose? Is it an effective deterrent against violent crime or is it merely a legal justification to seek vengeance.
Can the nobility in a man's character overcome the need for retribution when we are the victims?
Contrasting perception of capital punishment
White supremacist gang member Lawrence Brewer was executed for the dragging death slaying of a black man James Byrd.
Byrd who lived off disability checks would often walk to where he would go because he couldn't afford a car.On the day of his tragic death he had unknowingly hitchhiked on the truck of Brewer and two of his Ku Klux Klan friends.
Law officers found Byrd's body parts scattered along an isolated road. He was tied with a 24 foot logging chain to the truck's rear bumper and dragged for 3 miles.His headless and shredded remains was later dumped between an Afro-American church and cemetery. The brutal crime shocked the nation.
Troy Davis was on death row for twenty years. He was convicted for the murder of a Georgia police officer,Mark MacPhail.
The murder weapon was never found and of the nine witnesses who testified against Davis,seven have since recanted with some alleging their testimony were coerced by the police.To many the circumstantial evidence placed a cloud of doubt on the guilt of Davis.
After four years of appeal and a final decision of the U.S. supreme court affirming the death sentence,Davis was executed despite the public outcry and world opinion.
Both men were executed on the same day. Brewer and Davis became the 1,268th and 1,269th persons executed since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to reinstate capital punishment in 1976.
The families of the two victims had different reaction to the death penalty.
The Byrd family made it known that they would have been agreeable to life imprisonment for Brewer and asked that his life be spared."You can't fight murder with murder" ,The victim's son said."I wish the state would take that in mind that this isn't what we want." They held a vigil on the eve of Brewer's execution despite Brewer's unrepentant "As far as any regrets,no I have no regrets, I'd do it all over again"
The family of the murdered police officer held the opposite view and were against any clemency for Davis."Justice was finally served for my father " the officer's son told news reporters.
Davis attracted a lot of sympathy and his case stirred public indignation from many around the world including clemency pleas from the pope and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. Brewer on the other hand had few sympathizers.
The circumstances surrounding their case could not be more different. Although media played a part in shaping public opinion, people's notion of morality and justice determined their reaction towards the executions. But if we are bound by a common humanity then the divergence of reactions to the two execution also pointed out the moral hypocrisy of society.
Death Chamber on Wheels
China's Execution Van
China's legal system allows only one appeal.If the appeal is rejected,the death penalty is carried out immediately,sometimes within hours.
From serious crimes like murder,drug trafficking,armed robbery to white collar crimes of corruption and tax evasion as well as political dissensions, the death penalty is handed down for sixty-eight different crimes. More than half non-violent offenses.
The traditional execution is carried out in public. The condemned person is made to kneel with hands cuffed and head bowed before being shot in the head.The family of the decease is charge for the bullet. In 1995 a law was passed that made execution by lethal injection an alternative to a bullet
The mobile execution vans are converted 24-seat buses that cost $100,000. Similar in appearance to other police vehicles, the windowless execution chamber is located at the back where the prisoner is strapped down on a metal bed behind the glass panel of the observation area..A video monitor next to the driver's seat can record the execution if required. A police officer presses a button and an automatic syringe plunges a lethal drug into the prisoner's vein. Death occurs in about 30-60 seconds and is painless.
The body is cremated and the ashes return to the family. Because of the nature of the procedure, there are accusation of organ harvesting before the bodies are cremated.
Disparity in the promulgation of the death penalty's between the rich and poor
Chinese tycoon Yuan Baojing who was worth about half a billion U.S. dollars was put to death along with two other accomplice. He was accuse of arranging the death of a man trying to blackmail him for the failed attempt to kill a business partner. Yuan suspected the business partner of defrauding him of eleven million dollars.
Convicted a year earlier the death sentence was suspended. Rumors had it that Yuan Boajing "donated" the majority of his wealth to someone high up in the ranks of the Chinese communist party (CCP) in an effort to save his life. But the CCP is rift with intrigue and in-fighting among factions competing for advantage and positions. Depending on one's political acumen to choose correctly the winning side, party members can rise or fall during these power struggles.
Perhaps Yuan's protector chose the losing side.Or because it was a high profile case,Yuan was made an example to counter public perception that the law for the rich and powerful was different to that of the ordinary citizen.
China executes more than four times as many convicts as the rest of the world combine.Human right supporters may deplore the Chinese government policy on capital punishment. But when lady justice weigh the scale,shouldn't it be the same for both the under privilege and the wealthy?
China may be riddled with corruption,but at least the rich and powerful are also subjected to the death penalty.
The unholy alliance between the elite, big business and government affect greatly the income and lifestyle of the ordinary majority. Grand scale larcenies committed by those in the upper echelon of society in cahoots with corrupt public officials should warrant the imposition of the death penalty.
The wealthy and powerful not only go scot free but are rewarded with government munificence paid for by taxpayers. With countless lives destroyed and loss,why isn't economic sabotage considered a crime against humanity?
Wealth has it's privilege. The headman could be persuaded to stay the hand of execution