Friday, August 12, 2011

Random Thoughts on the Death Penalty

I'm not really making any statement about the death penalty, this is more of an interesting factoid post than anything. This was inspired by the news that Ohio (where I live) just sentenced Anthony Sowell to death for the murders of 11 women. Yep, I said ELEVEN. Their remains were found in and around his home. In Cleveland of all places. Anyways...

Did you know that the United States is one of only 41 countries in the world that still retains and uses the death penalty? 95 have abolished it, 8 have abolished it except for extreme circumstances and another 49 retain but have not used it in the last 10 years. In 2010, the United States ranked 5th in how many people were executed under the death penalty. One through four? China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen. Of the 23 countries with death penalty information posted, only one country (Belarus) is in Europe. The rest are in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Only five developed countries have the death penalty: Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States.

We put ourselves forth as a modern country, yet we still retain the most ancient form of punishment.

Methods of execution in 2010: beheading, the electric chair, the gas chamber, hanging, lethal injection, and shooting. Surprisingly, hanging and shooting are still used in the United States, if only in one state each.

The last death by guillotine in France was in 1977. They abolished the death penalty in 1981. There are several European countries that have not executed anyone during peacetime since before 1900, including San Marino who's last execution was in the 1400s. They abolished the death penalty in 1876. Portugal and the Netherlands also abolished it prior to 1900. The death penalty during wartime persisted longer.

Now if you're interested in my opinion, I don't really have one. Well, I don't know what it is because I can see both sides. On one hand, this is a modern world and death is a form of cruel and unusual punishment, no matter how humanely it is performed. On the other hand, I can understand where some crimes are that heinous that the only proper punishment is death. Not to mention, it's a lot cheaper to kill someone than to keep them in prison the rest of their lives. So I don't know what I think. Mostly I just think its interesting that the US still has it when almost every other developed country has abolished it.

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