The death penalty or capital punishment means putting a criminal to death. From the beginning of society’s the death penalty has been used to get rid of murderers, rapists or thieves. In the Middle Ages witches and criminals were easily putted to death; capital punishment was seen as a way to scare the people, and make sure that others wouldn’t commit serious crimes.
There were different ways of the death penalty for different kinds of crimes. The current ways of execution are in comparison to the old days merciful. At present hanging, gassing, electrocution and deadly injections are the most popular ways of putting criminals to death. In the past people were being beheaded, strangled, hanged, buried alive, drowned or burned alive.
Just since the nineteenth century people began to disagree with this way of punishing criminals. The death penalty was said to be inhumanly; and a lot of people believed that a government doesn’t has the right to take another people’s live.
From recent research became clear that at least 43% of the Dutch people are in favour of capital punishment. In some large country’s like the United States, China and Russia the death penalty still excises.
Article number three of the Universal Rights of Man says that everybody has a right to live. Obviously that doesn’t count for drugs-smugglers or murderers. There are still a lot of people against capital punishment. The death penalty is even more expansive then convicting someone to imprisonment for the rest of his live. Capital punishment is in conflict with certain believes and is considered to be inhumanly. And what if someone turns out to be innocent? Lifelong without reduction of punishment seems a better idea to those people. And you can ask yourself what a better punishment is: dying without any pain or spending the rest of your live in prison.
In Holland a lot of people were putted to death in the Middle Ages. When the French ruled our country people got hanged. In war deserters from the army were killed. In 1991 the death penalty was being abolished.
In Belgium the death penalty was abolished in 1996: criminals that used to be punished with capital punishment are now convicted to livelong imprisonment.
In the United States of America capital punishment still excists. Murderers can be convicted to the electric chair. Last year Timothy Mc Veigh was convicted to a deadly injection in Indiana. In 1995 he blew up a government building in Oklahoma City, because he felt like he was in war with the government of America. In Holland, his deed would have only cost him livelong imprisonment.
At March the second 1995 was Michael Gerardi robbed and murdered in New Orleans by 3 black men. At the same time, at another place in the city, Shareef Cousin, a 16-year-old black kid, was playing baseball.
Shareef was arrested as a suspect of the murder. Even though various witnesses saw Shareef playing baseball at the time of the murder, he was brought to court in the case of the murder on Michael Gerardi.
The eyewitness of the murder, Michael’s girlfriend, made a statement at the police-office 3 days after the murder. She said it was dark and she didn’t wear her contact lenses. This is why she never could have recognised the murderer.
But in court she said something completely different: ‘I’m 100% sure that Shareef killed my boyfriend, I’ll never forget his face.
These 2 statements are complete opposites. The strange thing is that the jury who was supposed to convict Shareef only knew about the second statement and not the first. During the lawsuit there were 3 witnesses missing, they were supposed to make clear that Shareef was playing baseball at the time of the murder. Afterwards it appeared that the prosecutor sent them to the wrong office.
So there was no fair lawsuit. Shareef had to be convicted no matter what. Even though there wasn’t enough evidence. The sentence: death penalty.
After a lot of work by his lawyer and Amnesty International there came a second lawsuit at January 11th 1999. The mistakes made in the previous lawsuit came to light and Shareef was stated innocent.
Shareef Cousin was lucky to have such a good lawyer. Not everyone is that lucky, resource makes clear that in the United States, when a black person kills a white person, death sentence follows 3 times more often than the other way around. And if you don’t have money, so you can’t hire a good lawyer, your chances to get trough the process without a conviction are very small