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Tuesday, 4 July, 2000, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Should the death penalty be abolished?
This week, eleven Vietnamese were sentenced to death by firing squad for drug trafficking. In Japan, Yasuo Hayashi, received the same punishment for his part in the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.
It all follows the controversial execution last week in the US of Gary Graham, a man convicted of murder when he was 17 years old. The execution was criticised by UN Human Rights chief, Mary Robinson and sparked an impassioned debate about the death penalty in the US.
In 1999 at least 1,813 prisoners were executed in 31 countries and 3,857 people were sentenced to death in 64 countries. The true figures may be higher still.
Nearly 85% of the known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the USA.
But a major study of capital punishment recently suggested that more than two-thirds of convictions in the US are so flawed that they are overturned on appeal.
What do you think of the punishment system in your country? Is the death penalty an inhumane and cruel punishment or do you think it is a necessary crime deterrent? Are the risks of executing the innocent too great or do you have confidence in the capital punishment system?
We have taken your comments on BBC World Service Radio and BBC News Online. Now add to that debate by emailing us using the form below.
Select a link below to watch or listen to Talking Point On Air
Edmund Montgomery, UK
I do not believe the death penalty is a deterrent. I am glad in Canada we do not have it, especially when a person has been mistakenly convicted and years later is proved innocent
Mr Sharp is being very narrow-minded. He is simplifying the life of human beings to a level of no complexity at all. If Mr Sharp would be so kind and accept that life is extremely complicated and there does not exist such simple explanations such as that there is only one person who is responsible when any crime is committed.
R. E. Brown, United Kingdom
In the UK the criminals get a much better deal than their victims do. A group of thugs who decide to kick somebody half to death can consider themselves "really unlucky" to get caught, "very surprised" that it gets to trial and "dumbfounded" if they are actually convicted. Perhaps we should give the criminals taxpayers money to try and persuade them not to commit crimes and give them luxury cars and houses to make them happier.
All my life I have thought that certain crimes should carry the death sentence. However in the UK we have policemen that have knowingly withheld evidence, which had it been divulged to the Court would clearly cause the release of the alleged offender. In failing to give such evidence to the Courts, many innocent men have been convicted. Clearly it would be outrageous for the death penalty to be enforced in this country.
While I agree that
the death penalty should be abolished
for almost all offences, I do believe there
is one offence that warrants capital
punishment. The only justified use of
the death penalty by any nation should
be limited to cases of high treason.
I think the death penalty is a fair trial. Life for a life!
John Maley, Hong Kong
A lot of people have used the argument that capital punishment reduces crime, without citing any proof. How do they explain the much higher rate of murder in the US which has capital punishment compared to say the UK which does not?
Yet, the moral dilemma posed by the death penalty for its advocates has never been answered. Either killing is always wrong in which case so is capital punishment. Or killing is ok if it solves a problem or for revenge. If that is your morality then it is no higher than those you seek to put to death. Because, ultimately that's all they did.
Its very easy for British people to take the moral high ground and judge the US, but the Privy Council in the UK approves death sentences from Commonwealth countries in its judicial capacity. Before we criticise the US we ought to acknowledge that in a way we approve death sentences in the UK.
Graham Follett, UK
If we could rely on the government to kill only the bad people then the death penalty could be defended. Unfortunately in the US and the UK the police have been found to have made mistakes and to have deliberately concealed evidence to gain convictions of innocent people. In this case breaking eggs to make omelettes is not acceptable.
Abolish the death penalty and you deprive a potential victim of his/her last line of defence. "Don't kill me or you get killed yourself". This is why I am in favour of it.
I understand USA's gun culture mentality, they are unable to understand that in justice there is no room for vengeance.
There are double murders in Canada who are set free in 6 years while the family must live with the death of their loved one for life. The death penalty is not fair to everyone but neither is the lenient sentences given in some countries.
The death penalty will go forward in America until society feels that it is safe from killers.
As long as a country has an imperfect justice system they should not employ the death penalty. Death is final.
Greggory LaBerge, USA
The death penalty affirms life. Killing is definitely wrong but punishment isn't. If a person takes the life of another person, he or she does not deserve to live. Life is precious to everyone. I think it is only when you lose a person dear to you to a heinous crime that you realise its worth.
The only people who are against the death penalty are those who have never been part of a victim's family.
This is the 21st century, not the 11th. We must find a better way not so much to punish, but rehabilitate society´s criminals. This outdated, babaric and crude form of punishment must stop. Every person, no matter how heinous the crime, has the right to be forgiven.
A friend of mine has a brother who is a police officer here in Georgia. His patrol partner was shot dead at "point-blank" range, while making a routine traffic stop. Robbie's killer now sits on Georgia's death row.
He is going to be there an average of 10-15 years (at taxpayers' expense!) while he goes through the appeals process.
Something like this makes me SO angry. There should be an automatic death sentence for anyone that kills a law-enforcement officer, even if the state where the killing occurred does not have the death penalty.
Hubert Seiwert, Germany
Australia has abolished the death penalty and for most crimes that is appropriate. Yet, there are some cases that are beyond belief and require this form of punishment. I am thinking here of the Tasmanian shootings and the perpetrator Arthur Bryant. He deliberately shot 33 people. If that doesn't deserve the death penalty I don't know what does.
Criminals, even murderers in the UK, are always treated better than their victims. It is time to change this. Why not leave the final say to the family of the victim? If they wish the death sentence for a convicted murderer then so be it. Let them choose, just as the murderer chose life or death for their loved one.
I believe that if we are dealing with a criminal guilty of murder, (especially if it involves rape, torture and humiliation of the victim), both friends and relatives of the victims and society in general, have the right to demand to be protected against future murders by the same criminal who "failed to reform". If I see a serial killer on TV I want to be 100% sure he will never again walk the same streets as my wife and kids. Let those who feel otherwise live happily with such murdering monsters on a desert island and take their chances with supposedly "reformed" cold-blooded killers. I won't.
Of course, the death sentence is horrible but this is a measure to eliminate the evil-doers from healthy society where they are unacceptable.
I think it is terrible that the death penalty still exists in the year 2000. We should pause to think why we are still doing this. We get to the point where there is no difference between them and us. We are missing the point of justice.
How can anyone say that capital punishment is an unproven deterrent against crime? Once dead, they don't commit crimes again.
R. Hughes, UK
Some people say that it is not civilised to kill people. Try saying that to the families and friends of the person who was killed.
I think the death penalty should only be imposed if a person commits that same crime more than once. The court should allow a person to repent.
Were one of Governor George Bush's family to be found guilty of murder based on the evidence of one witness, would: (1) the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole discount any pleas for clemency; and (2) would Mr Bush sign the execution order?
I think the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for criminals found guilty of murder. In South Africa convicted murderers sit in jail and live off a country that should be putting tax payers' money to better use.
Sophie Hargreaves, USA
I think that the attitude a nation has towards capital punishment reflects how the same nation values human life.
I think that only God has the right to take one's life.
If my son was killed intentionally by whoever, I would want justice and revenge, YES revenge. Sorry all you liberals out there but if needed, I would carry out the execution personally. If it brings me down to their level, so be it, I wouldn't care one bit.
Singapore and Iran are very safe places for women and children because they deal with crime responsibly.
In an interview many years ago Peter Ustinov said he was opposed to the death penalty because no one knew what the sentence meant - what is death? But why on earth, literally, do we keep proven murderers such as the Moors couple alive?
Whilst one might wish to do away with rapists and murderers it brings us all down to their level by executing them. Also you need to think outside your own feelings to advance civilisation.
Although executions for things such as political dissent should be abolished , I think that proven cold-blooded killers, should be executed, to send a stern warning to other perspective killers.
The taking of any human life is regrettable, but we have to ask ourselves, at what point did the criminals stop to consider their victims lives before they killed, leaving those behind to suffer.
When reasoning about issues of right and wrong, it is necessary to bear in mind that moral values differ from one society to another and are not absolute.
The death penalty is indefensible. To kill is wrong.
The US is criminally violent whereas the UK is generally violent. It starts at school with bullying, a very British problem.
Judicial murder is still murder. I, as a citizen, do not want the state to murder in my name. Perhaps, if the State Prosecutor and the Judge were both required to agree that they must spend the rest of their lives in prison if it were to be found that an innocent person was executed¿.
Which country has the highest crime rate, per capita, in the western world? The USA. Which country has the weakest gun restriction laws in the western world? The USA. Which is the only country that still imposes capital punishment in the western world? The USA. Hmm?
If you were 100% sure you had the right person for murder and raping and molestation of children, then yes capital punishment should be done, but since we can never be 100% and we cannot resurrect the dead, the answer has to be no.
I would like to draw attention to the idea that people are capable of reforming themselves. For example, the lady in Texas, who was executed on the say of George W. Bush. She was known to be a reformed character, a different person to the one who had committed a heinous crime many years before. To my mind there was no justification for executing her. People are capable of changing, of redeeming themselves. In this case it seemed that she was actually executed, not as punishment for the crime she committed, but to serve the political aspirations of Mr. Bush.
Scott M. Erlandson, USA
I would like to say that I fully agree with the death penalty. In most cases the guilty is correctly executed and deserves that punishment. Seldom can a criminal be proved 100% guilty, but in most cases the outcome is true. Draconian punishment works in Saudi Arabia where a thief has his right hand chopped off.
The death penalth should be abolished. It is inhumane and against the Law of Justice. It's God who gives Life and God has the right to take away any Life.
If you commit a crime, you are punished.
This is the basic concept of justice.
The severity of punishment is in question.
Sarah Williams, Italy
Amnesty has been studying this for a long time. Is the United States a country that has problems with racial prejudice, are the races divided at numerous levels in that country? If the answer is yes, and I think most people would agree the evidence for that is overwhelming, then why should the judicial system be immune from that same prejudice. Amnesty has produced wad after wad of information to show there is racial prejudice in the judicial system and therefore there is racial prejudice in the administration of the death penalty.
Death penalty is the only way to root out cold-blooded murderers. The convicts knows the consequences if they're caught so it's fair and right.
It's like any punishment, and that is whether or not whether you believe it is a just punishment. For me, that is the bottom line. Certain crimes are so heinous that it is an appropriate punishment in those cases.
Isaak Jama, USA
I believe the death penalty should be abolished as it serves no one. The family of a murder victim has suffered, the family of the criminal have suffered and society will suffer by demeaning itself by devaluing one human life.
Taking the death penalty to its basic level, as a deterrent, it is not a deterrent, the death penalty has been around since pre-Biblical times and it didn't work then and it doesn't work now.
Here in Australia, we have a man who for four years now has been sheltered and fed by the taxpayer after murdering 35 people in 1996 in the Port Arthur massacre. He may well be sitting in his cell now having a good chuckle at the fun he had that day. I don't think it is right that he should be allowed to continue to live after depriving 35 people of their lives.
A lot of people are bringing race into this argument. Apparently there are more people from black, minority backgrounds on death row or in prison. I cannot see the relevance of this point. Those people would not be there if there had not been evidence to convict them
I would speak from the point of view that two thirds of the sentences being handed out on the basis of insufficient proof. That necessitates even more that justice should not only be done but it should be seen to be done.
Law is supposed to take care not only of the accused but of the victim as well. While pondering over the idea of capital punishment one has to keep in mind that a precious human life was taken by an accused, and he should face the music. But proper care has to be taken regarding the procedural matters and has to be made fool proof.
The Bible says 'An eye for an eye'.
Crime is rampant even with the death penalty. Imagine what would happen without it!
Moreover, the government shouldn't waste the tax payers' money feeding, clothing and housing prisoners who have committed serious crimes.
First, I am pro death penalty.
Using words like "humane" and the like seem to be used in a one-sided way in the argument. It makes no sense to say that the death penalty is not "humane" while ignoring the fact that murder is even more so not "humane."
As one of your callers pointed out, and Descartes declared hundreds of years
ago, we cannot be 100% certain of anything. We have neither the moral nor
legal authority to put someone to death if only for this one reason.
Your Amnesty speaker mentioned that countries seemed to be moving towards abolition of the death penalty. However, it is interesting to note that none of the western powers has abolished it due to a referendum - they know that if it was put to a public vote the majority would be in favour.
Why should anyone protect the offender more than the victim?
I'm afraid that in much of the arguments on capital punishment,
especially, those that completely reject capital punishment, victims of
murder don't seem to have any rights at all. The rights of convicted
murderers are put far above the victims.
Locking someone away for life without parole is the ultimate cruelty. The
death penalty is the lesser of two evils.
As one who has had a career in prisons for over 22 years, I must recognize that there are men who are simply to dangerous to incarcerate. They will not hesitate to kill/rape/escape at the slightest opportunity. Many of them, unfortunately are quite young, and absolutely without conscience. Such men constitute an unacceptable hazard to both staff and other inmates.
Frankly, I hate the idea of capital punishment, but in the above case see no other option.
Captial Punishment is a necessary evil, unfortunately.
The death penalty helps no one. It cannot be said to be advantageous to the
state or the family which has lost a person or the criminal who is
condemned to death. Capital punishment is being abolished by civilised society.
Remember what Mahatma Gandhi said: "An eye for an eye will only make the world go blind."
I support the death penalty. But, yes it should be based on their deed.
One argument against the death penalty as it is applied in the non-Islamic
world is that we reject less serious penalties as barbaric. We are appalled
about the idea of chopping off hands as a punishment, but it is a much less
serious punishment than taking a life.
Death penalty is not really a penalty but liquidation, and, in case it is used, it should be called by its correct name. Of course, it would be politically unacceptable, but this confusion of concepts is the source of fruitless debates lasting for decades. The societies and governments must decide if they want to liquidate or punish the offenders. I believe that most people think they choose the second option, in which case the death penalty should be abolished.
"Thou shalt not kill." The commandment applies to state as well as individuals. By sanctioning the murder of criminals we stoop to their level. It is a road that leads to a total lack of respect for the sanctity of life, a road we have already travelled too far.
I am Sri Lankan studying in the UK. I am for the imposition of the death penalty. As far as the Sri Lankan situation is concerned the crime rate seems to have increased in recent times. Although the capital punishment is imposed by the court, it has not been carried out in Sri Lanka since 1976. The criminals are pardoned (by the President) after serving 4/5 years in prisons.
You said in your introduction that more and more people are questioning the use of the death penalty. Who are these people? Perhaps liberals in the media are questioning the death penalty, but not the majority of the general public in the US. Here, at last politicians are beginning to respond to public outrage over silly sentences such: life sentences that let people out in ten years and death penalties that are not carried out. In this environment of fake sentences the media tell us that the death penalty is not a deterrent. Of course it isn't if you never actually carry it out.
Capital punishment needs to be in the law because especially in South Africa, since they have abolished it the crime rate has got totally out of hand and people don't have any respect for other people's lives. Everyone is moaning and groaning about these guys on death row but nobody says anything about the poor victims - the guys who got murdered. A friend of my mother's recently got shot. To me there is no way you can say that inhumane people like that deserve human rights.
The death penalty should be kept. If someone kills, they should be killed too. We must have the death penalty in Britain. Who agrees with me?
I'm against capital punishment, totally and irrevocably. The system as it is set up now, particularly in the United States, is fraught with errors. A recent study released by Columbia Law School has released some very horrifying statistics of how capital punishment has been executed in the States. They found that the overall rate of prejudicial error in the capital punishment system was 68%, in other words, they found serious or reversible error in nearly seven out of ten of those capital sentences that were given. It is not an infallible system. We cannot 100% of the time be 100% certain that those who have been sentenced to death are actually guilty of the crimes they have been sentenced for .
Is there a perfect judiciary anywhere on this planet? If there is the death sentence might be acceptable. In the face of possible mistakes by any judiciary we can't - if we want to call ourselves civilised - really afford the possibility of the state executing innocent people.
I am from a country in which the death penalty is
mandatory for drug trafficking, murder, kidnapping and
the possession of firearms without a valid licence.
I am all for the death penalty however we have to be
beyond all reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the
accused. The recent executions in the US and the
failure of the criminal justice system there to grant
fair trial for the accused irrespective of race and
the added the disproportionate numbers of minority
groups in death row is a serious flaw.
Sivam Rajagopal, Kuala Lumpur,
When I hear people talk about the victims rights, I say "The victim is DEAD and killing another human being is not going to bring them back. We should honour their memory, and lock the person up so they won't do it again."
I don't believe in death penalty. Say that
once in a while I ponder what I will do if I or
any one in my family become a victim of heinous
crime. I pray to almighty may be He will
give me the moral courage so that one day
I'll be able to say no to death penalty- for
whatever crime committed.
Which is the greater crime, to kill someone in cold blood after imprisoning them for years, or to kill someone out of rage or desperation ? Why do governments kill people to teach them it's not right to kill people ?
If another Hitler came along tomorrow and tried to wipe out a complete race what would we do to him/her when caught?
I guess we may be able to answer that if Mislosevic is ever caught....
Once again liberals in making their arguments against the death penalty have done the impossible: they have made the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes imaginable the "victims". Twaddle. The scum on death row did not get there because they didn't get enough hugs as children. They got there by murdering innocent human beings.
I have strong belief in death penalty considering the value of the lives of both the victim and the killer. Life imprisonment can never serve as a strong deterrent where the chances of reform or reducing this henious crime are less.
Rupert Misir, Canada
The death penalty isn't working. To take another life is wrong if it is by the state or an individual. It must be sheer hell for the person waiting to be killed, and we call this civilized.
If someone were to throw a stone at your teenage daughter on her way to school, you would normally forgive the person after reprimanding him or her for what you think is sheer mischief. But think for a moment what your reaction would be if the stoning is repeated not once or thrice, but 10 times. Would you keep quiet? If I were in your place I would probably take a huge stone and fling it with all my might at the miscreant. This will surely stop the rogue stoning, not just my daughter but others as well.
I think crimes of violence, including murder, are abhorrent. However,to me, capital punishment is also murder and equally abhorrent.
I live in a jurisdiction, New York State, which reintroduced the death
penalty, six years, ago. I do not feel any safer, now that the death
penalty is a possible punishment. Support for capital punishment has declined in the United States, but a majority of Americans support it.
It is all very easy to say that the DP is cruel and barbaric if you are not the family of the victim, but if you put yourselves in their situation for a moment, it is easier to understand.
And, i personally do not look at places such as USA, as examples of countries which carry out the death penalty, as the whole judicial system there is prone to error, but I look at countries such as Singapore, where the crime rate is one of the lowest in the world.
The DP should only be carried out when there is no doubt of the murderer, eg, DNA tests.
If death penalty is abolished then violent crimes will increase.
There are some people who are naturally violent but they sometimes hesitate
committing crimes for fear of the sentence.
Let me say first of all that I am against the death penalty under
any circumstances simply because it is barbaric.
However, the main reason why it should be abolished is that even a
single wrongful execution is too many.
What is ironic is that in the USA it costs more to execute a person,
due to the huge appeal costs, than to incarcerate the person for life.
Also, how can the USA criticise executions in other countries when so
many are carried out in their own country.
In my opinion, the death sentence is not a punishment as the person executed does not have a chance to reform. However in some cases of persons found guilty without any doubt of genocide with impunity, the sentence might to some extent help to break the cycle of conflict in areas of continuous cycles of conflict. In the case of drug dealing offences, life sentence might be better option and will give convicts a chance to reform.
Despite all the claims made that the legal and judicial systems are sophisticated and diligent in passing sentences, including capital punishment, only when a case is proven against a defendant, beyond all reasonable doubt, miscarriages of justice do occur and there have been many instances of posthumous pardon.
I believe that the death penalty is appropriate when criminals have proven themselves, by their actions, unfit to ever be allowed into society. On the topic of whether or not it is "cruel and unusual" I believe that the penalty should be publicly televised. This would not only allow society to make an informed decision, but it would also greatly increase the likelihood of the death penalty being an effective deterrent.
Most of the people here mix up two terms: death penalty and American justice system. And that makes no sense at least for Europeans. I just want all the opponents of the death penalty to consider two things. First: why should any police officer be allowed to carry a gun and be able to kill someone (i.e. accidentaly) if even a legal court can't do that. Second: what indeed is more unhuman: to spend 30 years in a prison or to die quickly and easily?
Just make sure you do not kill anyone in the countries which have death penalty in force. In all the other countries and especially the EU ones, you do not need to worry as you will get off the hook after a couple of years. It is an issue a so called civilised country cannot comment on as capital punishment has managed to keep crime down significantly in different social societies. Why not publish those results next to capital crime? The explosion of crime in the UK is mainly because there is no strong enough deterrent. Criminals do not mind to have a reasonable time in jail where they even may conceive babies and have holidays? We live in a very criminal friendly society. Where does that leave the victims?
I've been to Texas a few times and it's an incredibly violent and unsafe place to live compared with Europe. The death penalty is NOT working as a deterrent, even if it does compare favourably with other American states.
Mike Cooke, UK
The real security for human life is to be found in a reverence for it. If the law regarded it as inviolable, then the people would begin also so to regard it. A deep reverence for human life is worth more than a thousand executions in the prevention of murder; and is, in fact, the great security for human life. The law of capital punishment while pretending to support this reverence, does in fact tend to destroy it.
It's incomprehensible to me that the death penalty still exists in the USA particularly in light of the recent evidence that the convictions are so flawed that a majority of them are overturned on appeal. What is also readily apparent is that the people being convicted are the poor, and therefore the minorities, who can't afford competent legal representation. Whether intentional or otherwise, it's genocide against the disadvantaged.
D. Smith, UK
The death penalty assumes the infallibility and impartiality of the legal system. If the UK had the death penalty would the Guildford 4 or the Birmingham 6 have been pardoned?
As a practising Hindu, I believe that the
imposition of death is acceptable in
the face of injustice. If a person is
capable of kidnapping a 3-year old
child, molesting and murdering her,
their life is no longer a God-given
mandate, a suggestion that is in
keeping with the concept of dharma
as expressed in the Bhagavad Gita.
The death penalty is the culmination
of a functioning legal system.
Tibor Saringer, Budapest, Hungary
I am opposed to the death penalty, but not on moral
grounds. I actually think certain crimes, which I
seem to read about daily, demand this form
of punishment. I am bothered by a
legal system which is very unfair in its application
of this penalty. Namely, if you commit a capital murder
and have enough means to buy good legal representation, you
will likely escape the capital punishment. This generally
translates racially along white & black lines.
Although I have some sympathy for those advocates of the death penalty who have suffered at the hands of the evil perpetrators of capital crimes, it is inherently wrong for any human being to take another's life. Murderers are punished and castigated. So how can murder by the state be justified?
Leon, New York, USA
The death penalty sets an example that killing is okay and it is moral to kill another person.
Has anyone taken note of the fact that a Japanese court just sentenced the subway chemical attack terrorist to death? Surely Japan is considered a civilized country. They are not quite as much fun to attack as the country that saved Europe from itself 3 times last century though?
I was glad to see that Gary Graham finally got his deserved punishment. I live in the city that he terrorised. Why is he is chosen as the poster boy for death penalty opponents? He admitted to robbing numerous people in a week long crime spree. He was caught after he passed out on the woman he was raping. This is the man that you want to save? I also have a hard time being told that we Texans are uncivilised. Anybody ever hear of the hooligans?
I would rather not have my tax dollars spent on keeping a convicted murderer alive for 25 or 30 years. Let the State give him the DP and then spend my tax money on programmes that would benefit my fellow citizens and I more.
William Laatsch II, Mansfield, Texas, USA
I have no problems with the death penalty, however, we should realise that this is an irreversible act. If a decision is made to execute a criminal, it had better be right! With that being said, let us not forget that a "jury of your peers" may not always be chosen. The jury may be biased or simply put they may be a group of Klan's men! As an African, that scares the hell out of me! How many people, especially minorities, have been on death row for a crime they did not commit? Think carefully.
The death penalty is not about "revenge". In a lot of cases it is not even a deterrent. I believe that the taking of a human life is very sad under any circumstance and nothing that anyone should feel proud of. However some of the more heinous murderers deserve nothing less than to be deprived of their own lives. Admittedly mistakes are made, but most people are aware of the punishments they face if they are convicted.
Where the death penalty has been abolished we have overfull prisons which cannot cater for short time sentences, which means petty criminals are still at large to re-offend having been given suspended sentences. Remove the more dangerous convicts and we might have a chance to restore some order.
The death penalty should continue as long as there are criminals who pose a threat to the entire society.
I think the Death Penalty
should be abolished.
I'm a Christian, and
it is for God to take lives, not man.
Gary Graham at 17 years old was, in the majority of U.S. States, old enough for Marriage, to Father Children, to drive a car, to Kill for his country, to Die for his country, in fact he was a person responsible for his own destiny. He knew the ultimate consequences of his actions. I would say to the U.S "Retain the death penalty".
Brian, Kansas, USA
I live in a country where the death penalty is still part of the judicial system. I agree with the need to have a punishment in place that will prevent murderers from getting the chance to do it again. However from what I have read so far, the American Justice system is so hopeless that you don't want to execute people in case you've got it wrong and they are totally innocent. The solution is to shake up the Justice system to a point where it actually does its job.
Judicial executions are about those careless murderers who leave clues and get caught. We top them for stupidity. This does not sound like a good basis to such an extreme punishment. As the Buddha said 'Anger is not appeased by anger; anger is appeased by love'. We have to involve these people in society, in community service, in recognising their own social natures.
The DP is barbaric and crude! Please don't judge our country based on what goes on in Texas. Not all states use the death penalty here in the US. Minnesota does not use the death penalty and our homicide rate just happens to be much, much lower than nearly every large city in the US. Something to think about.
The purpose of a "life" sentence is to remove the individual from society - to deny them their freedom and rights that go with it. Until society can "guarantee" that a "life" prisoner will never commit similar or worse crimes to anyone ever again, then the death penalty can never be ruled out. And at present, the only way to provide such a guarantee is to execute them.
The fact that proportionally more blacks and minorities are executed, relative to whites, in the US is a case of affirmative action gone too far.
The UN should abolish the death penalty because it's a cruel and inhumane form of punishment. The philosophy of it resembles an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, which never works in society
H. Nyqvist, Manila, Philippines
Let's hope the Americans are proud of their position up there with Saudi Arabia and China at the forefront of state-sponsored killing. Note to Benjamin, Texas: What do you say to the family of a man when it turns out he was innocent and has been murdered by the state? Note to Ryan, US: Why not add the criminally insane and the sick, the elderly and the poor to your list of people who contribute nothing to society?
The rights of a victim must come before the rights of their violator.
It's not about deterrence, it's about the necessity of feeling that your society is a fair one. If punishments are too lenient it discourages everyone from participating in the social contract.
It's also about democracy - the majority of people in the UK are in favour of capital punishment but our betters in Parliament won't listen.
One important element that we left out is that in states and countries with mixed races such as Texas, the majority who are sentenced to death are blacks, mixed races or Asians.
If the ground was level for all 'criminals' I do not really care whether they are sentenced to death or life imprisonment. In essence justice has to take its course.
Since the death penalty was abolished in the UK, it is estimated that 20 people may have been executed incorrectly. BUT about 190 people have been murdered by people who have either been released or escaped from prison for murder offences.
That to me appears to be a deficit of 170 innocent people who would not have died had the death penalty been in force.
The death penalty is akin to committing murder. Do you think that the person who administers the lethal injection can sleep at night simply because he/she has the law behind them? The act in itself is one of taking someone's life and therefore that is murder. Unpunished.
Countries with the death penalty:
USA, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, China, North Korea etc. etc
That about says it all really!
If the death penalty was such a great deterrent, why is the murder rate in the USA so high?
The main problem with the death penalty is that it is irreversible. If later evidence shows a person jailed for murder to be innocent then he can be freed- you can't do that with a corpse. For the death penalty to be justified as a punishment we need a foolproof justice system- that is an impossibility.
Kristin Casey, USA
Death penalty uncivilised? Maybe some think being too soft with criminals is the same thing as civility. The death penalty was common in biblical times, and killing people by stoning was the standard method. Cruel perhaps, but not unusual. In Gary Graham's case, he was an animal who got what he deserved, only not soon enough. He enjoyed the hospitality of the State of Texas for 19 years while his appointed lawyers tried to find a loophole he could escape through. He lost. If you object to this law, then don't murder anyone in Texas.
Killing can never be justified, whether it is by criminals or governments. No one has the right to take another's life except in cases when a life is threatened. Certainly "legal" killings by governments are no more justified than the original crime.
Time for a website featuring only murderers who have killed before, been released and killed again. The numbers on it will dwarf the handful 'wrongly executed'.
The death penalty must remain in place. The argument that it is uns unfair or that it is not a deterrent is a Trojan horse. Society has the absolute right to punish those that commit crimes. The ultimate crime requires the ultimate punishment. The system has checks that prevent those that should not be executed. If the system was not effective the study would have discovered numbers of 'innocent' person executed as opposed to a few where the penalty was wrongly assessed but not executed.
I'm embarrassed to say that I am a Texan.
I find the comments by death penalty
proponents to be particularly chilling.
If we give our governments the right
to kill a particular group of people,
what stops them from expanding to others?
Those in favour of the death penalty
prattle on about "justice." The death
penalty is not even remotely about
justice. It is about revenge. The death
penalty is not a deterrent. It is blatant
hypocrisy to kill someone in order to
send society a message that killing is
wrong. And it is yet another indication
of the lack of importance that our societies
Paul, United Kingdom
I am proud to live in the state that kills more thugs than any other. Why should the killers be treated humanely, anyway? After all, they did execute someone else that didn't want to die. So now it's their turn.
If the USA and other countries want to continue with the death penalty, then they should at least change the direction to the juries. All cases should have evidence considered "beyond a shadow of doubt" and not a "reasonable doubt". Any inconclusive evidence should result in no more that life imprisonment.
The death penalty is a state-organised lynching. It doesn't belong in the present climate. Doesn't the bible preach forgiveness and the sanctity of life?
Maybe we should get the guns off of the streets in the US. Is that a novel idea or what?
The death penalty is as barbaric as murder itself. Serious crimes should be punishable by life in prison, and life shou
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