This article appeared in the Macon Telegraph.
For many reasons, it is time for Georgia and other states to abolish the death penalty. A recent poll showed 61 % of Americans would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder.
Also, just 1 % of police chiefs think that expanding the death penalty would reduce violent crime. This change in public opinion is steadily restricting capital punishment, both in state legislatures and in the federal courts.
As Georgia’s chief executive, I competed with other governors to reduce our prison populations. We classified all new inmates to prepare them for a productive time in prison, followed by carefully monitored early-release and work-release programs. We recruited volunteers from service clubs who acted as probation officers and “adopted” one prospective parolee for whom they found a job when parole was granted. At that time, in the 1970s, only 1 in 1,000 Americans was in prison.
Our nation’s focus is now on punishment, not rehabilitation. Although violent crimes have not increased, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 7.43 per 1,000 adults imprisoned at the end of 2010. Our country is almost alone in our fascination with the death penalty. 90 % of all executions are carried out in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
One argument for the death penalty is that it is a strong deterrent to murder and other violent crimes. In fact, evidence shows just the opposite. The homicide rate is at least 5 times greater in the United States than in any Western European country, all without the death penalty.
Southern states carry out more than 80 % of the executions but have a higher murder rate than any other region. Texas has by far the most executions, but its homicide rate is twice that of Wisconsin, the first state to abolish the death penalty. Look at similar adjacent states: There are more capital crimes in South Dakota, Connecticut and Virginia (with death sentences) than neighboring North Dakota, Massachusetts and West Virginia (without death penalties). Furthermore, there has never been any evidence that the death penalty reduces capital crimes or that crimes increased when executions stopped. Tragic mistakes are prevalent. DNA testing and other factors have caused 138 death sentences to be reversed since I left the governor’s office.
The cost for prosecuting executed criminals is astronomical. Since 1973, California has spent about $4 billion in capital cases leading to only 13 executions, amounting to about $307 million each.
Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and misinterpreting holy scriptures and numerous examples of mercy. We remember God’s forgiveness of Cain, who killed Abel, and the adulterer King David, who had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Jesus forgave an adulterous woman sentenced to be stoned to death and explained away the “eye for an eye” scripture.
There is a stark difference between Protestant and Catholic believers. Many Protestant leaders are in the forefront of demanding ultimate punishment.
Official Catholic policy condemns the death penalty. Perhaps the strongest argument against the death penalty is extreme bias against the poor, minorities or those with diminished mental capacity. Although homicide victims are 6 times more likely to be black rather than white, 77 % of death penalty cases involve white victims.
Also, it is hard to imagine a rich white person going to the death chamber after being defended by expensive lawyers. This demonstrates a higher value placed on the lives of white Americans.
It is clear that there are overwhelming ethical, financial and religious reasons to abolish the death penalty.
Jimmy makes some interesting points and I think he’s right.
One thing I find interesting is that Protestants are more in favour of the death penalty than Catholics. I doubt many European Protestant are in favour, so why the difference?
I think this is good for the world, as he would have made one of the worst US Presidents ever.
With all the religiously-driven troubles around the world, the one thing we don’t need is an extreme right-wing Catholic, totally out of kilter on womens’ issues and humanity in the White House.
He should crawl back with the dinosaurs and reeducate himself about the real world, where contraception and abortion are commonplace and legal, women work and guns and the death penalty are something you read about in history books.
I’m not going to comment on the legal reasons, as it does seem to me, that the verdict of the European Court to allow the extradition of Abu Hamza may create more problems than it solves.
After all, it’s unlikely he’ll get a slap on the wrists in a United States court, so what will be the reaction of his apologists here in the UK, when they realise he’s not going to come back? I think it might be better for everyone here if he was kept in a nice warm cell and released when his time is up.
But then I don’t have to get elected in a few years time.
The EU could put a whole cap on it, by passing a law that says that no-one could be extradited to a country with the death penalty on the statute book.
Yesterday, Japan hanged three men.
The death penalty is barbaric, but in Japan, they just take you in the morning and hang you, after you might have been in jail for twenty or thirty years. Your relatives aren’ even told.
That though is truly barbaric. Even when we had the death penalty, it was carried out as humanely as possible, according to the standards of the time.
So Japan now joins the Evil Empire of Iran, China and the United States.
The shooting of Afghans by a rogue US serviceman, is absolutely awful and I dread to think where it will lead. I think if I was a soldier out there now, I’d be watching a few Black Adder Goes Forth videos, to get myself invalided home.
The FT this morning is claiming that the Afghan government want a local trial.
I hope that Afghanistan doesn’t have the death penalty!
This article on the BBC web site, puts a whole new slant on reality television.
We’re back to the public executions at Tyburn that finished in the last 18th Century. The list on Wikipedia of those who were executed there, includes Oliver Cromwell, who was actually posthumously executed, after exhumation of his body from Westminster Abbey.
This is from Amnesty International.
Web programmer Saeed Malekpour could be executed at any time in Iran. His death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 17 January 2012 and a court official has indicated that his death sentence may have now been sent for implementation.
Saeed Malekpour, a resident of Canada and Iranian national, aged 36, was again sentenced to death on 19 October 2011 by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, and it was confirmed by Branch 32 of the Supreme Court on 17 January 2012. On 14 February 2012, one of Saeed Malekpour’s lawyers visited both courts to ask about his case, but learned that the file was being held at neither court. Comments from a court official suggested that this is because Saeed Malekpour’s file has been sent to the Office of Implementation of Sentences.
Saeed Malekpour was sentenced to death for “insulting and desecrating Islam” after a program he had developed for uploading photos online had been used to post pornographic images without his knowledge. Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death in October 2010 following a trial that reportedly only lasted 15 minutes. After a June 2011 announcement that the Supreme Court had returned the case for further review, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court imposed again the death sentence as well as prison sentence of seven and a-half years. Amnesty International understands that although he has legal representation now, for much of his detention Saeed Malekpour has had no access to legal counsel.
Saeed Malekpour had been living in Canada since 2005, but was arrested in October 2008 while visiting his family in Iran. He was allegedly tortured while held for over a year in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison. In 2009, Iranian state television repeatedly aired a “confession” by Saeed. In an open letter dated March 2010, Saeed Malekpour stated his “confession” was extracted after prolonged torture following orders by Revolutionary Guard interrogators.
I see many e-mails like this. To the Iranians justice seems to be a word with seven-letters and that is all.
This one touched me, as I’ve written programs to upload pictures and othe files to the Internet. As far as I know no-one has used them for any illicit purposes.
I have said before that C used to visit prisoners in Holloway Prison in the early 1970s.
Yesterday, the Times and other papers carried reports of the death or full obituaries of the death of Stella Cunliffe.
Here is the report of her death on the Surrey Today website.
I have a feeling that C used to visit Holloway prison in a group, which involved this formidable lady. She seems to have provided the statistical evidence for the abolishment of capital punishment in parts or all of the UK. The obituaries vary.
There’s more here on Wikipedia, which states she was one of the first civilians to go into Belsen.
I think I met her a couple of times in about 1970 and we never knew what she did. Her male friend and they were just that, was a senior hospital manager and one of the best practical jokers that I’ve ever come across. I have to admit to stealing one of his best jokes.