October 10 is World Day Against The Death Penalty.
Or we could re-name it, “Two-Thirds Of The World Is Against The Death Penalty Day.” (But not the United States, along with such great company as China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen.)
More Than Two-Thirds Of Countries Have Abolished The Death Penalty
From The Economist:
More than two-thirds of countries have done away with it either in law or in practice. The latest is Benin. In August the west African country committed itself to abolishing capital punishment permanently. The number of countries that carry out judicial killings fell from 41 in 1995 to 23 in 2010, according to Amnesty International, a pressure group. China (chiefly), Iran, North Korea, and Yemen accounted for most of the executions. Votes against the death penalty at the UN General Assembly have passed with big and growing majorities since 2007. Capital punishment has virtually gone in Europe (only Belarus still uses it, most recently in July). This year China whittled down its list of crimes punishable by death.
But Two-Thirds Of The States In The U.S. Still Have The Death Penalty
And then there’s the United States, where two-thirds of the states still have the death penalty.
I enumerated the 10 Reasons To End The Death Penalty when I wrote about it here, but just to summarize:
* Capital punishment is more costly than life without parole
* Life without parole is just as effective as capital punishment in preventing recidivism
* Capital punishment does not deter others from committing crimes
* Capital punishment runs counter to a “culture of life”
When all other justifications are debunked, the only one left is vengeance. In the end, we waste money and promote killing just to make us feel good about exacting some revenge.
Let’s look at the most recent, shameful example.
Troy Davis was sent to his death last month despite a mass of evidence that left his 1991 conviction in doubt, including recantations from seven of the nine key witnesses at his trial for the murder of a police officer.
Is The Troy Davis Case A Wake-Up Call To U.S. Politicians?
The only positive to emerge from the execution of Mr. Davis is the enormous outpouring of protests in Georgia, at the Supreme Court, in cities throughout the United States and indeed around the world.
From The Guardian:
Brian Evans of Amnesty, which led the campaign to spare Davis’ life, said that there was a groundswell in America of people “who are tired of a justice system that is inhumane and inflexible and allows executions where there is clear doubt about guilt.” He predicted the debate would now be conducted with renewed energy.
Let’s hope that Mr. Evans is right. The United States stands virtually alone in the western world in continuing to uphold this cruel punishment.
It is high time that the United States left the company of China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen and decided to abolish capital punishment forever.
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