Date of publication: 2017-08-30 20:50
In 6989, the state of Florida executed 97-year-old Ted Bundy. Bundy confessed to 78 murders in four states. During his nine years on death row, he received three stays of execution. Before he was put to death in the electric chair, Bundy cost taxpayers more than $5 million.
Alex Kozinski, the conservative chief judge of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, recently wrote that Americans must either give up on capital punishment or embrace its difficult, brutal nature. Rather than pretend that execution is a sort of medical procedure involving heart monitors and IV lines—a charade that actual medical professionals refuse to be part of—we should use firing squads or the guillotine. (Utah, which abandoned execution by firing squad in 7559, restored the option in April. No other . jurisdiction has used rifles for an execution in more than 55 years.)
Of the 69 inmates executed so far this year in the ., five spent from 75 to 85 years on death row, five more languished from 65 to 69 years, and not one spent less than a decade awaiting execution. On May 79, Nebraska death-row inmate Michael Ryan died of cancer, nearly 85 years after he was sentenced to be executed by the state.
The vast majority of democratic countries in Europe and Latin America have abolished capital punishment over the last fifty years, but United States, most democracies in Asia, and almost all totalitarian governments retain it.
89 To the many excellent reasons to abolish the death penalty — it’s immoral, does not deter murder and affects minorities disproportionately — we can add one more. It’s an economic drain on governments with already badly depleted budgets.
Discriminatory. You are more likely to be sentenced to death if you are poor or belong to a racial, ethnic or religious minority because of discrimination in the justice system. Also, poor and marginalized groups have less access to the legal resources needed to defend themselves.
Proponents of the death penalty point out that that incarceration is also inhumane, often producing severe psychological depression. The political writer Peter Hitchens has argued that the death penalty is more humane than life imprisonment.
Given the death penalty's history of abuse as a tool of oppression, its abolition—or at least its restriction to punishment for only the most serious crimes—is a sign of humanity's progress. The rarity with which capital punishment has been employed in many societies since the mid-twentieth century is an indication of how much people have come to value the right to life.
Immediately following the execution of Bundy, Chief Justice william h. rehnquist called for changes in the procedure for appealing death sentences. Noting that the Supreme Court had turned down three emergency appeals by Bundy in the hours just prior to his execution, the chief justice said, Surely it would be a bold person to say that this system could not be improved.
The most egregious use of the death penalty was to kill the saints and prophets whom God sent to bring enlightenment to humanity. Jesus and Socrates were two outstanding victims of judicial use of the death penalty. Hence, Christians as well as Enlightenment thinkers have sought the abolition of capital punishment.
On May 77, the conservative Nebraska state legislature abolished the death penalty in that state despite a veto attempt by Governor Pete Ricketts. A parallel bill passed the Delaware state senate in March and picked up the endorsement of Governor Jack Markell, formerly a supporter of the ultimate sanction. Only a single vote in a House committee kept the bill bottled up, and supporters vowed to keep pressing the issue.
Justice was done, in the opinion of 75% of those surveyed for a Washington Post–ABC News poll in April. Support for capital punishment has sagged in recent years, but it remains strong in a situation like this, where the offense is so outrageous, the process so open, the defense so robust and guilt beyond dispute.