Death Penalty: The Ultimate Denial of Human Rights

Today is the world day against the death penalty, and Amnesty International is focusing its attention on the United States in the human rights organization’s global push to end capital punishment. The United States is the only country in the Americas that carried out executions in 2009. The paragraph below, from Amnesty International, best sums up the organization’s position.

“The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by a state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice. It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases, without exceptions, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristic of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.”

The United States is increasingly isolated on the death penalty

Despite the fact that the global push to abolish the death penalty is gaining momentum, more than 1,200 men and women have been put to death in the United States since executions resumed in 1977 after a decade without them. Recently, in an interview with NPR, retired Justice Stevens said that the vote he regretted the most, in his long tenure at the Supreme Court, was the one he made in favor of bringing back capital punishment in 1976. Justice Stevens called the 1976 Supreme Court ruling to uphold the death penalty “incorrect”, and told NPR‘s Nina Totenberg that it is the “one vote I would change.”

The three states that have the most blood on their hands are Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma. Together, they account for more than half of the country’s executions. But California alone has more than 700 inmates on death row, and there is a push in some political circles to resume the executions.

Since 1977, more than 130 prisoners have been released from death row in the United States after being found innocent. Nine were freed in 2009 alone. There is absolutely no proof that capital punishment prevents violent crimes more effectively than life sentences. Also, as pointed out by Amnesty International, several studies have shown that race plays a big factor in who receives the death penalty in the United States, with murders involving white victims more likely to result in death sentences than those involving black victims.

“A clear majority of countries have rejected the death penalty. How can the USA claim leadership on human rights yet still commit judicial killings?” said Widney Brown from Amnesty International.

The US belongs to the dubious and shrinking “club” of countries where killing citizens is legal. The other big players in the nations that commit killings are Iran, China and Saudi-Arabia.

“The death penalty is cruel, degrading, ineffective and entirely incompatible with any concept of human dignity. Its use in the United States is marked by arbitrariness, discrimination and error. Race, geography, electoral politics, local finances, jury composition and the quality of legal representation are all problematic factors in capital cases in the USA. Being tried for a capital crime is like taking part in a lethal lottery, and it should have no place in any justice system. It is indefensible to continue executing people, particularly knowing that innocent people have been sentenced to death. The United States needs to join the abolitionist majority in the world,” said Widney Brown from Amnesty International.

 

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7 Responses to Death Penalty: The Ultimate Denial of Human Rights

  1. Dorina Lisson (ACADP - Australia) October 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Everybody across the globe should look at the death penalty system in the USA. The death penalty has had no deterent effect on crime rates. The USA continues to have the highest crime rate and incarceration rate per head of population than any other country in the world. The high costs of the death penalty in comparison to life in prison remains a no surprize fact to most people, yet consistently ignored by political leaders in pursuit of legalized killings. Life in prison protects the innocents from the dangerous and is a far cheaper and humane alternative. Contrary to popular belief, the death penalty is not used for the worst-of-the-worst crimes, but for disadvantaged offenders who are given the worst lawyers. The O.J. Simpsons of society never ever get the death penalty. The USA boasts it has the best-of-the-best justice system in the world – but something must be terribly wrong – more than 140 death row prisoners have been released in the last three decades alone, after evidence emerged of their wrongful conviction. Most had spent years, even decades, on death row awaiting execution. How many innocents have been exterminated in the past is anybody’s guess. You cannot pardon a corpse! Society assumes all families of murder victims want the offender executed. That is just not true. Many victims of crime and their families oppose the death penalty on moral grounds.

    • Bilgeman October 10, 2010 at 4:20 pm

      “The death penalty has had no deterent effect on crime rates.”

      Oh really?

      And how many rapes and murders has Ted Bundy committed since his execution?

      “The USA continues to have the highest crime rate and incarceration rate per head of population than any other country in the world. ”

      Cite your source please…

      “Life in prison protects the innocents from the dangerous and is a far cheaper and humane alternative”

      Perhaps…until they get paroled, or some corrupt politician pardons them.

      There are SOME people who are simply too dangerous to ever even have the CHANCE of walking the streets again.

      “The USA boasts it has the best-of-the-best justice system in the world – but something must be terribly wrong – more than 140 death row prisoners have been released in the last three decades alone, after evidence emerged of their wrongful conviction.”

      I thought you were complaining about the expense of Death Row, and yet here’s one of the things that make it so expensive…and the fact that a capital convict can tie up the Gov in knots when its reaching for his throat is precisely what makes our system the best.

      Certainly there has been innocents executed, but what of it?
      I have faith that the vast majority of people executed were of that violent, predatory, and astoundingly stoopid or arrogant type who are precisely the kind of people we cannot afford to ever again let see the light of day.

      When a general contractor makes a bid to build a skyscraper or a bridge, do you not know that they factor in so many human deaths and injuries as inevitable in the course of completing the project?

      Should we give up living in buildings and using bridges to save those innocent lives?

      Thought not.

      And there IS an alternative to the death penalty that would spare the convict’s life while absolutely ensuring society’s safety at the same time:
      irreversible neurosurgical quadraplegic paralyzation.

      Simply sever a section of the spinal cord, heal him up, and then send him home…alive.

      Somehow, I doubt you’d endorse that, so I guess you’d rather just spend your days cursing the darkness than lighting a candle, huh?

      And BTW, it didn’t escape my notice that you’re Australian. Are you volunteering your fair country to receive our Death Row inmates?

      I remember the unseemly haste with which Ottawa found the will and the means to extradite California mass-murderer Charles Ng back Stateside when he was captured in Canada.

      Your Canadian equivalents made the same kind of noises that you are making, but once we let it be known that every thug-life spree shooter and hobbyist mass-murderer would hightail it north of 49th parallel given the chance, they all STFU with the quickness, and the execrable Mr. Ng was shipped off to Sacramento with the most exemplary promptness.

      And just for the record, I could give a wet fart about Australia’s criminal justice system, or lack thereof.

      T’ain’t none of my business, see?

      Why don’t you go preach to the Iranians?

  2. Jo Mason October 10, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Yup, State Sanctioned Murder, that about sums it up. Pretty barbaric isn’t it?

  3. Drotsky October 11, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Dude get it right, “The death penalty is not the ultimate denial of Human rights” ABORTION is!
    And BTW, two thumbs up, way up, Bilgeman!

  4. Dogwagon October 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Bilgeman said: And there IS an alternative to the death penalty that would spare the convict’s life while absolutely ensuring society’s safety at the same time…irreversible neurosurgical quadraplegic paralyzation. Simply sever a section of the spinal cord, heal him up, and then send him home…alive.

    Nice idea, but just where would you propose this individual be sent, after you have this done? He can’t just be ‘sent home’, as you flippantly suggest, exactly who would be taking care of him? And at what expense? Many inmates have no one left to go ‘home’ to, on death row or not…..

  5. garlicb October 18, 2010 at 12:12 am

    When people ask me what my views are regarding the death penalty I tell them this. “In a system devoid of mistakes, errors and biases, I am in complete support of the death penalty, that said, no such system exists.”

    My complaint about the death penalty is that compared to all other forms of punishment used in the US system, death is the one that is irreversible. It would be completely irresponsible to wrongful execute the wrong person, or innocent person, something that almost happened 130 times so far according to the article.

    From a punishment perspective, if I were a criminal and got to choose between life in prison or execution, I would sure as hell choose execution. I would think life in prison would be much worse.

    Regarding Ted Bundy, I think there is some confusion about the difference between “Deter” and “Prevent”. I think we can all agree the Death Penalty obvious prevented him from killing any more people. However it didn’t deter him in the first place from killing anybody. We know this for a fact because…he killed people, and hence wasn’t deterred.

    Regarding the completely unrelated comment referring to Abortion, if abortion is murder, how should we punish the women that choose to have an abortion. If a woman has two abortions, does that make her a serial killer, and should we also execute her?

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