Moné [Moganlal accent here], the death penalty is wrong. Period. No matter who the accused is or what the circumstances are. This is not coming from an ethical/moral or crime reduction standpoint ("We don't have the right to give life, so we don't have the right to take it." and the "Death penalty really doesn't deter capital crime" type arguments which have varying degrees of merit in themselves). The death penalty is wrong simple because it doesn't have an 'Undo'/'Ctrl + z' type facility.
The death penalty is intended to be used in the 'rarest of the rare' cases. Also courts constantly take cognizance of extenuating circumstances when deciding on a sentence, and often enough we see a lower court's 'gallows'-happy decision being overturned in a higher court. Does that mean that this person is suddenly not that guilty? Tacitly the system is admitting to the possibility that it was wrong the first time it sentenced someone, so what's to say it couldn't be wrong a couple of more times (Supreme Court, the President)?
The point is that you never know when extenuating circumstance comes to light. What if you pop off some sucker in what seems like an open-and-shut case and find out later that he was being blackmailed (in some suitably coercive manner) at the time that he committed the crime? Almost certainly this would've been seen as an extenuating factor, had it been known before, and perhaps the sentence wouldn't have been as harsh. If the person is alive, at the very least, the state/society can attempt to compensate him/her for loss of liberty etc. If he/she is dead, you can do precisely diddly squat.
There are any number of such scenarios that could happen. Isn't US judicial history is littered with cases where people were pulled off death row after years because something new came up?
The other argument against the death penalty (and also against other punishments) in India is the manifest unfairness of the way in which it is awarded. We're yet to see the Manu Sharma types (to use an example) swaying delicately in the monsoon breeze on a gibbet, whereas the Dhananjay Chatterjees who can't afford snazzy legal teams seem to be baalti tannify-ing more regularly (Is there someplace where we can get a consolidated list of all the death penalty executions in India, with case details?) This is a whole other can of worms...
Finally, there is the argument (that reeks of Taurean ordure) that you hear from the morally indignant and outraged "tax paying public" (of the sort you see on "We The People" on NDTV) that the society and their precious taxes oughtn't to be paying for keeping a slimeball alive, why waste that money and so on. The right way to look at it is that it isn't a case of the taxpayers money going towards keeping some manifestly evil person alive; it should be treated as a cost that society collectively agrees to pay to ensure that some potentially innocent person is never done away with. We keep paying 'preventive' costs of this sort all the time (for example, we pay people who guard politicians), and there's no reason why we shouldn't do it in this case.
Really, its a totally open-and-shut case. The fact that the death penalty's got to go is as trivially obvious as the fact that Article 377 has got to go.
Last year, we were fourth and this time we managed to slime into 3rd place. We must be getting better...at picking teammates.
Google has revealed the following resources:
- The Death Penalty Information page for high school students. Seems like a useful starter resource. Presents pro and con arguments from various perspectives. For example, con:
The death penalty alone imposes an irrevocable sentence. Once an inmate is executed, nothing can be done to make amends if a mistake has been made. There is considerable evidence that many mistakes have been made in sentencing people to death. Since 1973, at least 121 people have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence emerged. During the same period of time, over 982 people have been executed. Thus, for every eight people executed, we have found one person on death row who never should have been convicted.Pro:
There is no proof that any innocent person has actually been executed since increased safeguards and appeals were added to our death penalty system in the 1970s. Even if such executions have occurred, they are very rare. Imprisoning innocent people is also wrong, but we cannot empty the prisons because of that minimal risk. If improvements are needed in the system of representation, or in the use of scientific evidence such as DNA testing, then those reforms should be instituted. However, the need for reform is not a reason to abolish the death penalty.The site also has brief descriptions of various methods of execution, as applied in the US.
- Prodeathpenalty.com argues for the death penalty. Especially interesting seems to be the section on claims about innocent people being sentenced to death.
- Amnesty USA and Amnesty International have anti capital punishment pages.
- The American Civil Liberties Union is also anti death penalty, but has a different and more class/race oriented perspective.
Almost all people on death row could not afford to hire an attorney. The quality of legal representation is a better predictor of whether or not someone will be sentenced to death than the facts of the crime.
Race often plays a role in determining a capital sentence. Over 80% of capital cases involve white victims, even though nationally, only 50% of murder victims are white.
- ReligiousTolerance.Org has its take, as it must.
- YesDeathPenalty.com says
Here you can read a serious and comprehensive defence of The Capital Punishmentand
Welcome to the greatest website in Europe which support the Death Penalty!
A criminal that in brutality has taken somebody’s life has no natural right to his own life.
- The Death Penalty Information Center seems to be the target of critiques of anti death penalty positions.
- And finally, to make things a bit bizzarre, at Dead Man Eating, you can read all about US crimes and executions, and what the condemned ordered for their last meals, some of which is actually quite delicious sounding.