Out of the uncountable stupidities made by Man since its existence on Earth, the invention of Death Penalty was the most stupid of them all. I usually find it very hard to explain how obnoxious I think having Death as a penalty is.
Probably the first human instinct to be developed is the sense of survival, the ability to fight for life sometimes even if that strugle is at an unconscious level. This characteristic is the foundation of the Humanity itself, it is the base of societies and cultures and the world as we know it.
Any deviation from this natural behaviour has its origin on one of the following: the belief that life will go on after death, a better life maybe as it is defended by some religions, or in clinical conditions, that are behind the conscious control.
The right to life should be an implicit right for every human being that no court of law, judge, jury or sentence should even be able to question let alone change it. Unfortunately, the need for power is as intrinsic as the sense of survival.
This would be the moral slash romantic part of this issue, but let's get technical.
· No correlation was ever proven to exist between the institution of Death Penalty and the deterrence of crime. Point 1: there is no reason to keep it.
· With the existence of such a penalty, and because humans are not perfect - some would disagree I believe - there will always be a chance to condemn and murder the innocent. Point 2: the murder of an inocent is precisely why the penalty exists in the first place.
· To force a life to terminate is to deny redemption and the right of the very basic trial-and-error function that runs in every human. Point 3: why are some humans awarded with the possibility of change and others are not?
· It will never be possible to quantify how painful it is to have a loved one killed, wheather the loved one is the victim or the perpetrator of the crime. Point 4: justice has to be blind and emotionless.
· Punishment is mutually exclusive with a death penalty - no punishment outcome can be possible from the dead, nor the dead can be punished since that would constitute an absurdity. Point 5: having death as a penalty is purposeless.
These are just some arguments that I believe to refute the very fundamental principles that would eventually validate such a penalty. Others would be possible - who is to decide on who lives and dies? Financially, it is more expensive to apply a death sentence then a life without parole sentence. Isn't it a paradox to find humane ways of executing a life? And I won't even get started on the Botched Executions and on the almost sarcastic fact that no sick person can be executed.
To have an overview on the current situation throughout the world when it comes to the Death Penalty, I made the following map showing only the retentionist countries. The big chunk on the left side of the map is, as you may have guessed, the United States. Now, isn't it ironic that almost all of the other coutries are on the right side, hence, out of the ocident, so-called civilized, part of the world?
Currently, 129 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Only 68 are still using it. In 2005, at least 2 148 people were executed in 22 countries. Around 20 000 are currently condemned and awaiting execution.
This year, 2006, John Ballard was found innocent after spending more than 3 years on Florida's Death Row.
Today John Schmitt is going to be executed in VA, where inmates can choose between Lethal Injection and Electrocution. Apparently Gas Chamber, Hanging, Firing Squad, Beheading and Stoning were not an option.
Portugal was the first country in the world (yes, in the whole entire world) to abolish in practice the Death Penalty.
After all we are actually the first at something.