[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Jul 26 16:26:07 CDT 2008
Iran plans mass execution: report
Iran is planning a mass execution of 30 people convicted of murder and
drug trafficking, in the biggest such event in recent years, a local
newspaper reported on Saturday.
"Thirty people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, illegal
relationships... will be executed on Sunday at dawn," the Aftab newspaper
quoted Tehran's prosecutor office as saying.
It would be the largest mass execution in the Islamic republic in recent
years. In January, Iran hanged 13 people including the mother of 2 young
children who had been found guilty of murdering her husband.
The prosecutor's office said that the verdicts against the 30 people had
been approved by "high judicial authorities".
It said 20 of those on death row were convicted drug traffickers.
The remaining 10, identified as "murderer thugs" were also convicted of
"disturbing public security and disorder, beating up people, repeated
robberies, having illegal relationships and showing up drunk in public".
The location of the planned executions was not given. Hangings often take
place inside prisons but can be carried out in public in Iran.
In January, Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi
decreed that public executions would only be carried out with his approval
and "based on social necessities".
Human rights groups have accused Iran of making excessive use of the death
penalty but Tehran insists it is an effective deterrent that is carried
out only after an exhaustive judicial process.
Iran has so far hanged at least 126 in this year, according to an AFP
Amnesty International reported that in 2007 Iran applied the death penalty
more often than any other country apart from China, executing 317 people
during the year.
Capital offences in the Islamic republic include murder, rape, armed
robbery, drug trafficking and adultery.
Earlier this month, it emerged that the Iranian parliament was considering
a bill which could see the death penalty also used for those deemed to
promote corruption, prostitution and apostasy on the Internet.
Last week, an Iranian rights group, Volunteer Lawyers' Network, said that
Iran planned to stone 8 women and 1 man sentenced for adultery despite a
moratorium on such executions.
The French presidency of the European Union said it was "deeply concerned"
over the fate of the 9.
Under Iran's Islamic law, adultery is still theoretically punishable by
stoning, which involves the public hurling stones at the convict buried up
to his waist. A woman is buried up to her shoulders.
A 2002 directive by Shahrudi imposed a moratorium on such executions.
However, in July 2007 the Islamic republic drew international outrage by
stoning to death a man convicted of adultery.
(source: Agence France Presse)
Capital Punishment: Justice or Cruelty? ---- For some, it's immoral, for
others the only just response
With the continued liberalization of society and the increase in concern
among the public regarding human rights abuses, people have increasingly
begun to question the legitimacy of capital punishment. Is capital
punishment the only viable method with which to bring appropriate justice
to those who commit the most heinous of crimes? Or is it an unfair and
brutal practice that denies the basic rights that are inherent to any
human being? This article will aim to present an impartial and accurate
outline of both sides of the argument.
'Capital Punishment = Cruelty'
With organizations such as Amnesty International calling it "the ultimate,
irreversible denial of human rights," many have begun to turn their backs
on capital punishment. Some of their main arguments can be outlined and
summarized as follows:
1. Capital punishment is a characteristic of underdeveloped societies.
Many opponents of capital punishment will point out that the vast majority
of the world's developed countries have abolished the death penalty (with
exceptions being countries such as Singapore, the United States, and
Japan). Thus, they argue, capital punishment is a trait of underdeveloped
nations. Some even claim that it is inevitable that capital punishment
will be eventually eradicated as the world moves towards a more
democratic, developed, and civilized direction.
2. It costs more than alternative methods.
Contrary to popular belief, capital punishment actually tends to cost more
than alternative methods. The State of Maryland found that "death penalty
cases cost 3 times more than non-death penalty cases, or $3 million for a
Additionally, the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Office of Research
found that "In Tennessee, death penalty trials cost an average of 48 %
more than the average cost of trials in which prosecutors seek life
Finally, the results of the California Commission on the Fair
Administration of Justice's study on the costs of capital punishment in
comparison to life in prison were as follows: "the Commission estimates
the annual costs of the present system ($137 million per year), the
present system after implementation of the reforms ($232.7 million per
year) and a system which imposes a maximum penalty of lifetime
incarceration instead of the death penalty ($11.5 million)."
Much of the enormous costs come from the lengthy appeals processes that
often accompany capital cases. Furthermore, capital cases require more
funding for investigative costs and special motions.
3. The death penalty does not stop crime.
This is an argument that can go for both sides. There is not a clear piece
of evidence that points to one side of the debate. Proponents of this
argument may point out that many countries without the death penalty has a
lower crime rate than the US, which still utilizes capital punishment.
4. It eliminates the possibility of a 2nd chance and redemption.
Many people criticize the death penalty as simply being too harsh. They
believe that the death penalty eliminates any possibility of repentance
and redemption. They argue that people inevitably make mistakes and must
be given at least a 2nd chance. Furthermore, proponents of this argument
often cite examples in which prisoners on death row allegedly repent
genuinely for their past crimes. They argue that capital punishment keeps
such prisoners from paying back for their sins and gain a new start in
their lives as more productive members of society.
5. It is hypocritical and simply immoral.
Many ask the question, "Why do we kill people who kill people to show
killing people is wrong?" They argue that it simply does not make sense to
discourage killing by killing and that it is comparable to "fighting fire
with fire." Therefore, they argue, it is simply immoral to forbid murder
as an unethical act, yet punish the criminals by, in a sense, murdering
6. It is often motivated by racial preference.
Organizations such as Amnesty International argue that there are racial
disparities in the implementation of the death penalty. They note that
according to certain statistics, defendants are much more likely to be
given the death sentence if they are African American, especially if the
victim is white. Several reports do point to this notion. For example, a
Yale University Law School study found that "African-American defendants
receive the death penalty at three times the rate of white defendants in
cases where the victims are white. In addition, killers of white victims
are treated more severely than people who kill minorities, when it comes
to deciding what charges to bring."
7. It will inevitably kill innocent victims.
This is perhaps the most compelling argument against the death penalty. It
is an undeniable fact that the death penalty takes innocent victims'
lives. It is obviously impossible to determine the exact number of
innocent convicts that were punished by the death penalty.
According to Amnesty International, "Since 1973, more than 125 people have
been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of
their wrongful convictions. In 2003 alone, 10 wrongfully convicted
defendants were released from death row." There are many people who claim
that they would support the death penalty if there were a way with which
to guarantee that no innocent life would be taken by the system.
Gov. George Ryan of Illinois has stated, "I cannot support a system which,
in its administration, has proven so fraught with error and has come so
close to the ultimate nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life.
Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly
guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or
woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate."
'Capital Punishment = Justice'
On the other hand, much of the public continues to maintain their
confidence in capital punishment. Their sentiments may perhaps be
synopsized by a quote from J. Edgar Hoover, "Have you ever thought about
how many criminals escape punishment, and yet, the victims never have a
chance to do that? Are crime victims in the United States today the
forgotten people of our time? Do they receive full measure of justice?"
Some of the main arguments in favor of the death penalty are as follows:
1. Capital punishment serves as an effective deterrence for crime.
First, many would argue that capital punishment is the most effective way
to deter crime. Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of
Colorado at Denver who co-authored a study on the effectiveness of capital
punishment, is quoted as saying, "Science does really draw a conclusion.
It did. There is no question about it. The conclusion is there is a
On the international level, the most compelling evidence by far may be
Singapore. Singapore has the highest capital punishment to population
ratio in the world. While this policy has bred its fair share of
proponents and critics, it is undeniable that Singapore enjoys an
extraordinarily low level of violent crime. Currently, Singapore has .49
murders per 100,000 people per year.
Proponents of this argument may then point out that France, on the other
hand, has a significantly higher murder rate of 1.63 per 100,000 people,
despite being a developed country without the death penalty. Another piece
of evidence may be the fact that homicides in Britain doubled since the
death penalty was abolished in the country in 1964 (from 0.68 per 100,000
of the population to 1.42 per 100,000). Against the argument that the US,
despite having the death penalty, has a much higher murder rate than many
countries without the death penalty, proponents of capital punishment
would point out that the death penalty is carried out inconsistently in
In other words, the type of punishment can vary for the same crime in the
US. They would compare this case to Singapore, where the criminal would
know for certain that he would receive the death penalty for a given crime
even before committing the crime. Using Singapore's impeccable safety
record as an example, the proponents would assert that the death penalty
is undeniably effective so long as it is implemented in a consistent
2. It provides appropriate retribution/justice.
Many believe that only the death penalty can match the extremely heinous
nature of some crimes. It is the single method of punishment, they argue,
that provides physical and definitive punishment that the criminal cannot
escape from. Thus, capital punishment is the only method with which the
criminal can receive what he or she truly deserves. People who subscribe
to the notion of "eye for an eye" may find this argument especially
John Stuart Mill, a 19th century philosopher and reformer, is quoted as
saying, "Does fining a criminal show want of respect for property, or
imprisoning him, for personal freedom? Just as unreasonable it is to think
that to take the life of a man who has taken that of another is to show
want of regard for human life. We show, on the contrary our regard for
it, by the adoption of a rule that he who violates that right in another
forfeits it for himself and that while no other crime that he can commit
deprives him of his right to live, this shall."
3. It effectively incapacitates the criminal.
Advocates of this argument argue that capital punishment is the only way
to guarantee 100 percent that the criminal will not repeat the crime. They
argue that any form of rehabilitation is uncertain at best, and that there
will always be a risk factor. Executing the criminal, they argue, would
eliminate any risk that the criminal may potentially pose.
4. It provides a peace of mind for the families of the victims.
Many would argue that the families of the victims are being ignored in
this equation. In a sense, they argue, are they not the ones that deserve
the most because of their suffering? They ask -- is it not immoral even to
consider the rights of the criminal whilst ignoring what the families of
the victims may be going through? In many instances, executing the
criminal may be the only way to bring the family true peace of mind. Such
feelings are well summarized in this quote by the father of Jennifer
Ertman, who was brutally murdered by Derrick Sean O'Brien, "I hope the son
of a bitch rots in hell; he deserves it."
5. The Utilitarian Argument
This is a relatively uncommon argument, but one that is sometimes used to
counter the arguments that point out that innocent victims will inevitably
be executed. Utilitarianism is the philosophy that emphasizes "the
greatest good for the greatest number of people" (In other words, the
greatest good for the society as a whole). Hence, supporters of this
argument argue that although innocents will be killed, the overall
benefits of capital punishment will outweigh its negative impacts. In
other words, they argue that capital punishment will save more innocent
lives than it will take. Hence, it can be extrapolated that having capital
punishment will allow society to end up with more innocent people alive
than without it.
Nevertheless, the question remains: is capital punishment justice or
cruelty? It remains to be seen how the death penalty will continue to be
judged by society in the years to come.
(source: OhmyNews International)
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