1 Dec 2005

The Case Against The Death Penalty

An extract from The Case Against The Death Penalty by Hugo Adam Bedau, taken from Capital Punishment Project, American Civil Liberties Union.


o Capital punishment is cruel and unusual. It is a relic of the earliest days of penology, when slavery, branding, and other corporal punishments were commonplace. Like those other barbaric practices, executions have no place in a civilized society.

o Opposition to the death penalty does not arise from misplaced sympathy for convicted murderers. On the contrary, murder demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. For this very reason, murder is abhorrent, and any policy of state-authorized killings is immoral.

o Capital punishment denies due process of law. Its imposition is arbitrary and irrevocable. It forever deprives an individual of benefits of new evidence or new law that might warrant the reversal of a conviction or the setting aside of a death sentence.

o The death penalty violates the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection of the laws. It is applied randomly at best and discriminatorily at worst. It is imposed disproportionately upon those whose victims are white, on offenders who are people of color, and on those who are themselves poor and uneducated.

o The defects in death-penalty laws, conceded by the Supreme Court in the early 1970s, have not been appreciably altered by the shift from unfettered discretion to "guided discretion." These changes in death sentencing have proved to be largely cosmetic. They merely mask the impermissible arbitrariness of a process that results in an execution.

o Executions give society the unmistakable message that human life no longer deserves respect when it is useful to take it and that homicide is legitimate when deemed justified by pragmatic concerns.

o Reliance on the death penalty obscures the true causes of crime and distracts attention from the social measures that effectively contribute to its control. Politicians who preach the desirability of executions as a weapon of crime control deceive the public and mask their own failure to support anti-crime measures that will really work.

o Capital punishment wastes resources. It squanders the time and energy of courts, prosecuting attorneys, defense counsel, juries, and courtroom and correctional personnel. It unduly burdens the system of criminal justice, and it is therefore counterproductive as an instrument for society's control of violent crime. It epitomizes the tragic inefficacy and brutality of the resort to violence rather than reason for the solution of difficult social problems.

o A decent and humane society does not deliberately kill human beings. An execution is a dramatic, public spectacle of official, violent homicide that teaches the permissibility of killing people to solve social problems-- the worst possible example to set for society. In this century, governments have too often attempted to justify their lethal fury by the benefits such killing would bring to the rest of society. The bloodshed is real and deeply destructive of the common decency of the community; the benefits are illusory.

Two conclusions buttress our entire case: Capital punishment does not deter crime, and the death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice.

5 comments:

strom said...

That should also apply to the US who'd be carrying out the 1000th execution sometime this week.

Anti-Singaporean said...

Sorry mate, the intended audience of this article is American.

Capital punishment is cruel and unusual. The exact phrase of cruel and unusual punishment appears in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

You know, blood thirsty Singaporean, who advocate all sort of cruel punishment like caning and hanging and passionately proud of keeping their hangman busy every Friday's dawn, will never incorporate such phrase into their consitution until the Judgement Day of this evil city-state hand down by God.

Anonymous said...

Ok anti-singaporean then we blood thirsty barbarians of Singapore will see you in hell when the time comes. What about leading a crusade to cleanse this evil city-state of ours? Get on your white horse, with your golden helmet and shield, large broadsword etc....

Anonymous said...

singapore will suffer retribution, just wait and see...

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