[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Apr 13 07:27:55 UTC 2007
Bring back the death penalty
I am an opponent of the death penalty. I think it is inhuman and a
barbaric way to mete out punishment.
However, the situation regarding murder in our country has reached such a
level, that it seems there is no other way to deal with it. I call upon
the government to bring back the death penalty for murder and for homicide
committed during armed robbery and rape.
To avoid gross miscarriage of justice, apply it to repeat offenders only.
There is only a very small chance in such a case that an innocent person
will be executed.
As far as claims that death penalty is not a deterrent, consider this.
Perhaps not even 1 murderer was discouraged, but 300 murderers were
executed in 1 year. There would be 300 fewer murderers on the streets.
Bring it on for 3 years and then compare statistics.
Mike, Ashley Gardens
(source: Letter to the Editor, Pretoria News)
Supreme Court upholds death penalty for serial killer
The Supreme Court Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced a
man to death for a series of murders.
Jeong Nam-gyu, 38, was convicted of killing 13 people and injuring 7
others between January 2004 and April 2006. Many of the victims were women
and children living in southwestern Seoul, and two of the children were
killed after being sexually assaulted.
During an appeals court trial last year, Jeong said he "felt good when he
killed the rich," and hoped he would be executed as soon as possible.
Jeong is the nation's 63rd inmate on the death row. No executions have
been carried out in the country for the past nine years, as President Roh
Moo-hyun and his predecessor Kim Dae-jung did not approve them.
(source: Yonhap News)
Closer encounters----One artist hopes that by shining light on the casts
of the heads of people hanged for murder he will reveal a new view of
On thin black shelves high up on the wall, a line of ghostly faces stares
blankly down on the exhibits of the Crime Museum at Scotland Yard in
central London. They are, literally, the faces of death. Most of the
people whose heads are preserved here - 33 men and 2 women - were hanged
for murder at Newgate prison in the City of London during the early part
of the 19th century. Their heads were cast in plaster of Paris after they
were cut down from the noose, and preserved in the name of science. All
but a handful have their eyes closed.
For the past six months, Gerhard Lang, a German artist, has been engaged
in an unusual relationship with these relics of our scientific past.
Granted rare permission to use them in his work, he is bringing them to
life for modern eyes.
"When I first saw the busts 7 years ago, I can't really explain it," he
says. "Intuitively, I thought this collection brings up so many
interesting and important questions that I would like to do a work on
these busts. It was just a feeling."
Lang obtained a grant from the Wellcome Trust to research the "scientific"
theory phrenology. Developed in the 19th century it said that character,
personality and criminality could be determined by the shape of a person's
He began by interviewing academics and experts from all over the world in
the fields of neurology, philosophy, anatomy, neuroscience and the history
of art and medicine before getting permission from the Crime Museum to
depict the heads in his art 5 years ago.
His approach is painstaking and intimate. Each head is brought down from
its vantage point in the museum and taken to his studio across the hall -
a store room covered in peeling institutional paint. Lang places each bust
on a specially built easel and as a strong light beams from the other side
of the room he traces the outline of its shadow both in profile and with
the head facing the paper. He then uses a scalpel to cut around it,
producing a "shadow" of the head in black paper. It is this shadow he is
"When you see the bust, it is a direct cast of a person, but you instantly
know it is only a copy," he explains. "With the shadow, it shows the
shadow of the bust but at the same time it has this ambiguous side that
also could be the shadow of the person. So although we are at even more of
a distance from the person than the bust, it's actually the opposite: I
lead you much closer to the person."
The casts include Franz Muller, a German man who committed the UK's first
murder on a train, and Frederick Deeming, a serial killer who murdered his
two wives and four children. Others are unknown.
At the time the casts were made, phrenology was at its peak and taking
casts was common practice in prisons. Phrenologists believed that the
brain had different "brain organs" which represented a person's
personality traits. These were thought to be proportional to a person's
propensities, which would be reflected by "bumps" in the skull bone. A
person with a propensity to kill, for example, would have a "bump" in that
part of the brain.
The approach was later taken up by early criminologists such as the
Italian surgeon Cesare Lombroso, who studied prison inmates to support his
theory that the "born criminal" could be identified by physical defects.
Scientific advances and, finally, the horrors of the Holocaust put paid to
a theory that had become widely used to justify racist beliefs.
Alan McCormick, curator of the Crime Museum, says the casts were donated
in 1902 when Newgate prison was demolished to make way for the Old Bailey
and now form one of the best collections of phrenological criminal casts
in the country. For him, the ghostly faces have become part of daily life.
"I clean them every morning," he says. "I have to examine them every day
to check there is no deterioration. They are almost like old friends to me
They also play an important role in the museum, which is used in the
training of police officers. "Those who visit like to know why it was done
and I explain it to them," he says. "It helps them appreciate the science
that led to forensics."
Lang says the stories behind the casts are not important to his work and
will not appear in an exhibition of his work he hopes will be held in
London. "The crucial thing is they were sentenced to death because they
were believed to be murderers," he says. "We don't know whether they were
victims of miscarriages of justice."
He is also adamant that his work is not a comment on the death penalty.
Instead, he is interested in the idea of "encountering" - the relationship
between the work and the viewer. "Art gives us freedom to open another
window," he says.
"Wherever killing happens, encountering hasn't happened. You haven't
recognised the humanity of the other. With this work, the viewer is put in
the position of encountering the murderer in the way that neither the
murderer did to the victims or the state did to the murderer. This is what
makes an artwork. It brings something new."
(source: The Guardian)
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