Capital punishment is outdated, and the USA should follow in abolishing it

10 Jan 2015


America isn't exactly renowned for its ground breaking new political advances in the past, in fact, more so in the opposite direction to those of us on the outside looking in. But there's a point where 'historical' becomes 'outdated'. I understand our need to feel like someone who has committed a particularly horrendous crime has paid the ultimate price. That's the reason for the existence of such sentencing as capital punishment. But these rules are, to be quite honest, older than anything that still exists should be. 1608 was the first recorded state punishment, 180 years before the Constitution was agreed upon. It was a death by firing squad at the Jamestown colony, given to an alleged Spanish spy named George Kendall. That means the state death penalty was introduced over 400 years ago. Isn't that a bit long for such a harsh rule?

Let’s move away from a history lesson, and onto the basic facts. Only one EU country still uses capital punishment, compared to 32 states in the USA, which is already telling. What's even more telling is that Belarus, that EU state, has used capital punishment once last year. The USA? 33 times. The USA, in 2014, executed 33 times more people than the whole European Union. All 28 nations in the EU. Yet this is still ruled constitutional in 32 US states, and only FOUR are considering abolishing it.


How, in the 21st century, can such a disgusting, immoral, and inhumane form of punishment still exist in the world’s biggest economy, and self-proclaimed land of the free? A country that has been a world superpower since it gained independence. And they execute only one more person than Yemen and Afghanistan combined.


The process of waiting for execution may be even more inhumane than that of the execution itself. People sit on death row for 10, sometimes even 20 years while lawyers file appeal after appeal until they run out, or get set free, by some luck. They are kept under ridiculous monitor, even through their last day, stuck in a room, constantly watched by security, and only allowed to see the chaplain. No family visits in your last day on Earth, and only one phone call. States price cap the last meal of the inmate, Texas have even abolished it. And then you sit in a room fort hours, under only the company of a chaplain. Not to mention the suffering in the most common execution method. Lethal injection isn't instant. It's a three stage, 12 minute procedure, and at any moment, the executioner could get a call, saying he's got to set that man free. Until that 3rd injection to stop the heart, he can go. Even after being paralysed by the second. Is this really moral in any way? Is this 21st century America? No. It isn't. And it won't be until there is a nationwide abolition of such abominations.


I’m glad we as a country outlawed such a dreadful punishment so long ago, but there are some people who seem to think that bringing back such a law is a good policy for their political parties. The British National  Party, or BNP, are one of these parties, their website stating they will:


‘Restore capital punishment for paedophiles, terrorists and murderers as an option for judges in cases where their guilt is proven beyond dispute (such as with DNA or other compelling evidence).’


Now, while paedophilia, murder and terrorism are dreadful crimes to commit, there is no crime worth taking away another person’s human right to life. And not to mention the extreme double standards in the ‘an eye for an eye’ method of punishment, such as suggested by the BNP. If you suggest that murder is a genuine, serious punishment for someone who committed murder, don’t you see the extreme double standards? Surely the executioner should then, in turn, be murdered, following these morals. And then that executioner would be murdered, and the vicious circle would never end. In no situation is there any morality behind capital punishment. To use a quote by the great Richard Dawkins (albeit out of context):


‘The absolute morality that a religious person might profess would include what? Stoning people for adultery? Death for apostasy?’

A bit of word changing, and that quote applies perfectly to the BNP viewpoint and equivalent of   ‘absolute morality’. The BNP also believe in the re-legalisation of corporal punishment for ‘petty criminals and vandals.’ So, in other words, if you scribble the word cheese on a random wall somewhere, Adam Walker will track you down and give you five strokes of the cane! But I’m getting off topic here, how can anyone claim that the death of a man is worth the death of another? And if you view it as the ultimate punishment for a criminal, you’re wrong. It’s giving them an easy way out early on. Life imprisonment provides much more pain and hurt to those criminals, and, while it may still not be moral, isn’t killing a man for killing another.


By Noah Adams

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