The death penalty as policy fails on the merits at several levels.

  1. First, there is absolutely no evidence that it acts as the deterrent supporters claim it does.
  2. Second, it’s ethically incinsistent to argue that killing people is wrong and then to support state-sanctioned murder.
  3. Third, the only nations that still employ the death penalty, aside from the US, are nations we certainly would not hold up as examples of good, decent governance. The opposite is true, in fact.
  4. Fourth, we know that people are imperfect and that government is made up of people. Therefore, we know that it is inevitable that innocent people will be executed. That price is simply not worth it.

We in the US hold ourselves out as the world’s moral exemplar. How can we justify claiming that title with a straight face and still support the death penalty? We should do away with this barabric and ineffective practice immediately.

History Suggests the U.S. Will Ban the Death Penalty Soon. Why Not Now?

John Horganby John Horgan

There are times when I’m ashamed for my country. Last Wednesday, for example, when officials in a Georgia prison injected lethal poison into the veins of Troy Davis, a black man convicted of murdering a white police officer, Mark MacPhail, in 1989. The case raised the question, as The New York Times put it, of “whether a black person in the South could be guaranteed the same justice as a white man.” A worldwide coalition—including Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter​—pleaded for Davis to receive a new trial. Davis steadfastly maintained his innocence, telling MacPhail’s family just before his execution, “I’m not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother.”

Critics of capital punishment, such as the Death Penalty Information Center, raise many objections to it. First, there is the issue of biased application; for example, defendants are much more likely to receive the death penalty for killing a white person than a black person. Some death-row inmates have subsequently been shown to be innocent—in more than 130 cases since 1973. On top of that, capital punishment is extremely costly to administer and has never been shown to deter criminal behavior.

Some opponents, especially those motivated by religious concerns, argue that even the most depraved murderer deserves sympathy and mercy. I would oppose capital punishment even if it was applied without racial bias only to the guilty, saved us money and served as a deterrent. And I believe that some murderers don’t deserve our sympathy, because they are monsters, who are beyond redemption and should be locked up for the rest of their lives. My objection to the death penalty stems from my concern not for murderers but for the rest of us. We demean ourselves as a society by killing. Capital punishment makes no sense: to show our abhorrence of killing, we kill. If we want to show our reverence for life, we should not take life.

This sort of moral reasoning has helped catalyze the global, historical decline in capital punishment. As Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker documents in his new book The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking), several centuries ago virtually all nations—including those that prided themselves on being “civilized”—carried out executions often and with gusto. Capital offenses included not only murder but also a wide range of other transgressions, such as theft, heresy, witchcraft, sodomy, bestiality, poaching and cutting down trees. The burning, disembowelment, castration, decapitation and hanging of convicts served as public entertainment. Sometimes every one of these brutal acts was performed on a single individual.

Pinker quotes a passage that the famous British diarist Samuel Pepys wrote in 1660: “Out to Charing Cross, to see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy.” In case we’re not sure exactly what happened here, Pinker explains that Harrison was “party strangled, disemboweled, castrated and shown his organs being burned before being decapitated.”

Today, England and all other European nations except for Russian and Belarus have banned executions, de facto if not legally. According to Amnesty International, “more than two thirds of the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.” In 2008 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty as a step toward a ban, which according to the resolution would contribute “to the enhancement and progressive development of Human Rights.” The vote was 104 to 46, with 34 abstentions. The U.S., of course,voted against the resolution,.

From an historical perspective, the U.S. is clearly headed toward abolition. Pinker notes that since 1625 the annual per capita rate of executions has plummeted from almost 35 to well under one execution for every million people. Sixteen states have abolished the death penalty, and those that retain it execute only a minuscule fraction of convicted murders. There were a total of 46 executions last year, including 45 lethal injections and one electrocution. Pinker writes that “the American death penalty, for all its notoriety, is more symbolic than real.” Of course, it was quite real for Troy Davis, whose execution—like all executions in this nation—tarnished America’s reputation for moral decency. We know capital punishment is wrong, and that we will abolish it before long. Why wait any longer?

Original post at ScientificAmerican.com

39 Responses to “Kill The Death Penalty”

  1. knapsad toe says:

    Those two were smiling like the really cold murderers that they are.They have no remorse its as if they killed a fly.No mercy for them.

  2. noy palavits says:

    How old are you? Maybe you should wake up to the realisation that the ‘new generation’ are born with the internet, not with books. And the fact that hand spelling is becoming increasingly common among youths. People just don’t text full sentences anymore, and this behaviour is increasingly being translated onto the internet. Now I’m assuming you’re American, most spelling critiques are… maybe it has to do with the prevalence of under educated people there?

  3. sanott chi says:

    Just found your channel, great work!
    One thing that bothers me about “In God We Trust” and “God Bless America” is that it implies a very low self-esteem for American!
    What I mean is that: “Do you really need to invoke the creator of the whole universe to help or you in your success!”. What a pity to think that you managed to create something good (America is great, it?) only due to the help of an entity that created an entire universe.

  4. banell gnonnarell says:

    On other news, a friend of mine just published a very interesting death penalty in Israel. #neocon –

  5. No, just a lawyer…like ever even come close to saving the world. That girl sidekick of his has more fury than he does. HE THROWS PAPER!

  6. And guess what? It’s never deterred people from murdering. One big reason for punishing murders with death is to make people think twice about killing someone else, but it obviously doesn’t work. Then there are other reasons, especially the possibility of killing an innocent person.

  7. Its good to know at least it was Shapiro’s own money and not my tuition money/UM revenue being used. Its even better that he’ll probably serve 20 years.

  8. whisabaugh froy says:

    Some people still love their life in prison… Seriously.. I don’t get it, but life in prison death is this what you’re implying?, they can also get out of prison yeah…

  9. tarlyoak hell says:

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  10. hagisse ment says:

    Nationwide in 2011 there were only 43 executions and 78 death sentences, the lowest numbers in years. NBC’s Pete Williams News)

  11. Pray for this guy in Iran, who’s about to face the death penalty for preaching to people by telling them about Jesus Christ !

  12. As in this AP “NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said Tuesday that Maryland needs to abolish capital punishment to help lead the way in ending it in other states.” Here is more from this “People in this country…

  13. drakeok yoening says:

    Josh Marquis, Distric Attorney for for Clatsop County, discusses the death penalty in Oregon and across the country. Presented before the Washington County Public Affairs Forum on January 16, 2012.

  14. IKR, most of them the death penalty one on hand and go pro life on the other. It’s pretty much always that way with these people..
    They should move to Iran and live in the stone ages if they want to act like this. Then you can live by your “OLD testament” as much as you want and stone people to death. It’d be like a getaway camp for your kids as far as your concerned I bet..
    You pro-life people are scary weird.. Like I’d think you don’t exist except in movies but here you are.. Children of the corn, meets the hills have eyes, freaks of nature.. Living and breathing in America.. Scary..

  15. warnhilla geira says:

    Sooo…Uganda is trying to pass a “Kill The Gays” bill that can result in the death penalty for any gay person in the country. -_______-

  16. sae isanir says:

    Just so everyone knows: I am passionately the Death Penalty repeal in California. It is time to join the civilized world.

  17. Tweet Widget Facebook Like

    The Hamas authorities’ execution of three convicted prisoners by hanging on April 7, 2012, highlights the need for a moratorium on capital punishment in Gaza, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch, which opposes the death penalty in all cases as cruel and inhuman punishment, said the persistence of unfair trials made the executions egregious.

    (Jerusalem) – The Hamas authorities’ execution of three convicted prisoners by hanging on April 7, 2012, highlights the need for a moratorium on capital punishment in Gaza, Human Rights Watch said today.
    read more

  18. lammeshwot says:

    An OFW on death row in Saudi Arabia for the killing of a Saudi national in 2000 still faces the death penalty. Story:

  19. bert audro says:

    UNITED SIKHS hands UK PM David Cameron, a letter asking to call on India to abolish death penalty & free Balwant Singh

  20. Canada trafficked 50K Residential School children for QEII & Vatican to rape, & murder.They NEED the Hague & the Death Penalty NOW!

  21. babbater says:

    If there’s such a thing as “Bond Villian genetics”, this guy got a solid dose from both sides of the family:

  22. rookey baski says:

    who got the death penalty and why? Thdn answered it, tom robbinson because he was wrongly accused of raping a girl x

  23. Executions 1995 [warning, graphic!] Executions 1995 [warning, graphic!] This objective documentary on the death penalty and state sponsored killing looks at the… –

  24. shristel shaw says:

    Thousands of animals are locked in their cages, alone & afraid, waiting to be handed the death penalty inside HLS.

  25. dif yujisa says:

    Neither Sweden or UK can legally extradite a person to a country if death penalty is possible outcome. precluded by ECHR

  26. Deterrence and the death penalty / Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty ; Daniel S. Nagin and John V. P…

  27. tiuson janastuang says:

    What’s your opinion about the death penalty? It deters people from doing crimes, and it’s a fair way to serv…

  28. TACOMA, Washington (Reuters) – The wife of an Afghan villager killed in a rampage blamed on a decorated U.S. officer told an Army investigator that more than one soldier was present when her husband was shot dead at their home in March, the investigator testified on Saturday. Military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Army Staff Sergeant Bales, accusing him of killing 16 villagers, mostly women and children, when he ventured out of his remote camp on two revenge-fueled forays over a five-hour period in March. …

  29. NB Blowers: “Gujarat is the only state in India that has the death penalty for those found guilty of making and selli …

  30. robilderos says:

    British opposition to the death penalty calls into question £12m donation toward drugs policing The UK’s decision to give millions of pounds to help Pakistan fight drug trafficking – an offence that carries the death penalty – has been thrown into question after the country resumed executions last week. Human rights groups are concerned that the UK, which leads the world in calling for the abolition of the death penalty, has been helping Pakistan to catch drug smugglers, despite the country’s poor human rights record and the fact more than 8,000 people are on death row there. Many of those awaiting execution are “mules” who have been convicted for trafficking drugs on behalf of criminal gangs. At least 25 Britons are in jail in Pakistan facing a potential death penalty, according to the human rights group Reprieve, which bases its figure on a briefing from the Foreign Office. Two have been convicted and sentenced to death. The most high-profile Briton facing the death penalty is…

  31. The Hindu : News / National : Few takers for death penalty, many States want 16 as juvenile … (via

  32. di masley says:

    Death penalty should be reserved for pedophiles, serial killers + people who ask questions just before breaktime during a long work meeting.

  33. quietly pro-life. I laugh at people who think it was liberal. Loads of liberals in it, but aside from death penalty did little.

  34. befa balo says:

    Tom Gianni / APDavid Coleman Headley is shown in a sketch from May 2011.By James B. Kelleher, ReutersCHICAGO – David Headley, an American who admitted scouting targets for the 2008 Islamic militant raid on Mumbai and later agreed to testify against the plotters to avoid the death penalty, was sentenced on Thursday to 35 years in prison. Follow The sentence, handed down by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, was the maximum sought by federal prosecutors. The attacks killed more than 160 people, including six Americans. Headley, a 52-year-old U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, admitted videotaping sites that were targeted by the Mumbai attackers. He was arrested in 2009 and pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including conspiracy to bomb places of public use and commit murder and plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper. After entering his plea in 2010, Headley cooperated with U.S. investigators and foreign intelligence agencies to avoid the death penalty and…

  35. ketteoffor says:

    Arsonist gets death for Calif. fire that killed 5
    Salt Lake Tribune
    San Bernardino, Calif. • An arsonist was given the death penalty Monday for killing five men who died of attacks during a wildfire nearly a decade ago that ripped through the hills east of Los Angeles.
    and more »

  36. tis toolmsonni says:

    Download here Chi-gyu Park
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    . She is married at 14, is and begins walking the. Too Young to Die? (DVD) Customer Reviews 3.7 out of 5 stars ( 26 ) 3.7 out of 5 stars 5 star 12 4 star 5 3 star 3 2 star 2 1 star 4 See all 26 customer reviews “ I. It touches on the debate concerning the death penalty. Too Young to Die? (1990) – Overview – MSN Movies Another “based on fact” TV movie, Too Young to Die? stars Juliette Lewis as a benighted teenaged girl. Too Young to Die (1990) – Rotten Tomatoes Review: Another “based on fact” TV movie, Too Young to Die? stars Juliette Lewis as a benighted teenaged girl. She is married at 14, is and begins walking the. Too Young to Die? – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Too Young to Die? is a 1990 television movie starring Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis. It is based on a true story. Amazon.com: Too Young to Die?: Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Michael. Too Young to Die? (1990) – Movies | New Releases | DVD Rental. Too Young to Die | Trailer and Cast – Yahoo! Movies The made-for-TV drama TOO YOUNG TO DIE? presents a tragic story of manipulation and murder that touches on the hot topic debate over the death penalty. An abused 15 year old is charged with a murder that carries the death. Too Young to Die? Synopsis – Plot Summary – Fandango.com Another “based on fact” TV movie, Too Young to Die? stars Juliette Lewis as a benighted teenaged girl. She is married at 14, is and begins… Too Young to Die? (1990) – IMDb Directed by Markowitz. She is married at 14, is and begins walking the. Another “based on fact” TV movie, Too Young to Die? stars Juliette Lewis as a benighted teenaged girl

  37. Hopes dashed of reprieve under Shinzo Abe’s government with first sentences carried out since September 2012 Japan has carried out three executions – the first since the country’s conservative prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was elected last December, and a sign that Tokyo will defy international pressure to abolish the death penalty. The justice ministry said the executions were carried out in the early hours of Thursday in three different locations. One of the condemned men, Kaoru Kobayashi, had been sentenced to death for the abduction, sexual assault and murder of a seven-year-old schoolgirl in 2004. He sent a photograph of the murdered girl to her mother. The executions, the first since September 2012, could signal a return to more regular hangings under the current justice minister, Sadakazu Tanigaki. “I ordered the executions after giving them careful consideration,” Tanigaki told “These were extremely cruel cases in which the victims had their previous lives taken away…

  38. I don’t understand how people can advocate killing innocent unborn children but are against the death penalty for the convicted! Smh

  39. pellett fiordangdi says:

    Chinese state television broadcast live images last Friday (1 March) of the last moments of four foreign drug traffickers who were about to be executed. According to the Los Angeles Times, the cameras pulled away before the lethal injections were administered. However, the coverage was unprecedented and unleashed a storm of criticism and debate about the use of the death penalty. The paper that psychologists in China decried the coverage as distressing to children while lawyers complained that it violated a clause in the country’s criminal code that forbids the parading of condemned people before execution. The drug traffickers, who were responsible for killing 13 Chinese fishermen in 2011, were captured in Laos after an extensive manhunt. They had shot the men after tying them up and then dumped their bodies in a river. The gang leader was from Myanmar; two were Laotian and the third was Thai. China executes about 4,000 people each year. Though public executions were once…

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