As this article is being written in May 2017, fifty-six countries have the death penalty in place. It’s common practice in the following countries:
- China – Though the official numbers are shrouded in secrecy, it’s generally estimated that China executes the highest number of people every year. The crimes for which they’re being punished can vary, and there’s a clear abuse of power at play. In 2008, Wo Weihan, a once-respected scientist was executed for gathering information and collecting documents about the health of a Communist Party senior leader (1).
- Saudi Arabia – One of the last four countries to carry out public executions, Saudi Arabia is notorious for executing many by stoning or beheading. Death sentences are almost exclusively pronounced based on the system of tazir (Meaning that no punishment is specified in the Qur’an or Hadith, but it can be decided by the judge or ruler of the state). Among the crimes punishable by death in Saudi Arabia are – Sorcery, Fornication, Sodomy, Lesbianism, Atheism and Apostasy.
- The United States Of America – Thirty-one of the fifty states within the USA use the death penalty as a punishment for murder involving a ‘aggravating factor’ such as multiple victims or a victim under a certain age (2). Most of the time, the prisoner is executed by lethal injection – the USA being the first country to adopt the method (3).
Other countries that carry out executions include North Korea, Yemen and Iran. Secret hangings have also been known to take place in Japan, where 129 inmates are on death row. Terrorist and cult leader, Shoko Asahara, who led the 1995 gas attacks on the Tokyo subway that killed 13 people and injured thousands, is one of them (4).
There is a vocal movement of people aiming to abolish the death penalty. Amnesty International has been a vocal opponent of it since the organisation’s inception, calling it ‘ cruel, inhuman and degrading’, regardless of the circumstances (5). The Catholic Church also take a ‘Consistent Life Ethic’ – opposing all threats to life whether it be the death penalty, abortion, euthanasia or assisted suicide. Mother Teresa even actively campaigned for murderer Robert Alton Harris to be spared from execution (6) , pleading with the governor overseeing his execution, George Deukmejian, to “do what Jesus would do if Jesus was in your position”.
And at this point in the article, I’ll be diverging from the statistics and into my opinion.
Capital punishment clearly being abused – the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death is abhorrent, and you will NEVER be able to convince me otherwise. I don’t care what reasoning you can produce, be it religious or otherwise, you’re justifying the execution of people who haven’t harmed anybody and are just loving each other, as consenting, mature adults.
And I won’t be joining the crowds of the ‘Daily Mail’ comment sections, who bay for public hangings to return to England, or spend their time fantasising of intricate ways to torture and kill convicted murderers. Honestly, I’d rather be able to walk through the streets of this country without seeing Ian Brady swinging from a noose.
However, I do think that the death penalty is justified in the cases of murderers and pedophiles. I strongly believe that.
It can’t be put into words how much I despise those two groups.
When I hear stories about Tracy Connolly, the mother of poor Baby P, or Jon Venables, the killer of James Bulger and convicted child pornographer, I feel my blood boil. Scum that are beyond rehabilitation, who are handed multiple identities, all at the taxpayer’s expense. £1 million was spent to protect Venables from the public backlash, with each identity costing reportedly £250,000 (7) – let that outrageous number sit with you. Somebody who murdered a three-year old boy, and was then caught with depraved images of further children on his computer, is being protected by the government.
My solution honestly? Lethal injection for Venables, Connolly and the rest of their twisted ilk. I have absolutely no sympathy for child killers, child molesters, whatever they may be. And it baffles me that opinions like mine are seen as ‘extreme’ or ‘unfair’.
Do I think that the death penalty will deter murders? No, of course not. Evil people will always exist. If we truly want to improve our society, we have to go to the root of the problem – getting children out of severely abusive homes would be a start, as most pedophiles and murderers are products of traumatic childhoods.
But I think there comes a time when somebody crosses the line from human error into beastly evil.
A man and woman were recently sentenced in Kansas, for torturing their seven-year old son, Adrian Jones. The pair made him stand for hours in dirty water that went up to his neck, starved him and eventually fed his dead body to pigs specifically brought for the cover-up (8). When I read this story, I honestly began tearing up. Such indescribable, unrelenting destruction of innocent life.
It really brought home to me why I’d support the death penalty in such cases.
A sense of anger and fury for the lives cut far too short – be they Adrian Jones, James Bulger or Baby P.
Disagree with me all you want. I can’t imagine ever changing my opinion.