Death Penalty / Doodstraf

Beoordeling 6.3
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  • Werkstuk door een scholier
  • Klas onbekend | 2824 woorden
  • 25 december 2001
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Introduction

Death penalty is a tribunal execution. We call a punishment death penalty when somebody looses his or her life because of a judgement of a competent judge after a trial. More than 50 years ago the members of the United Nations (UN) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). After this, 8 countries abolished death penalty. Nowadays 87 of the 196 countries in the world still haven’t abolished death penalty. The other 109 countries abolished death penalty for all crimes or abolished it for the normal crimes or just don’t use it (abolitionist de facto). Countries in the last group aren’t really abolitionist countries, but they haven’t executed anybody for at least 10 years. But still, 87 countries violate the human rights. According to Amnesty International. (1)
Of course, when a beloved one is murdered, the family members of the victim want some satisfaction. But is death penalty the answer for their pain and grief? Are they satisfied when the murderer is killed? Can the state give those people their satisfaction; can we give them some sort of revenge?

And then there is the state. The state, which teaches us the lesson “killing people is wrong”, by killing. The state and President Bush contradict themselves when they talk about death penalty and human rights. They don’t sound that plausible anymore.
Those three reasons will be explained comprehensively in this report about capital punishment. On the end you will find a conclusion, with an answer on the question: Should death penalty be abolished worldwide?

Death Penalty: Violation of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948, the general Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (UDHR) In this declaration the rights, that are valid for everybody, anytime, anywhere, are registrated. Together with adopting this declaration, the members of the UN have forced themselves to respect those rights.
But there are people who think that some countries don’t respect those rights, or not completely. One of the forms in which some countries break the human rights is Death Penalty. By using death penalty as a tribunal execution the following rights are broken:
Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
According to United Nations (2)

First of all, Article 1 says that all the human beings on this planet are equal. But when a judge or a member of the jury decides whether or not somebody deserves death penalty, he or she has at that time, the power to decide about somebody else’s life. When you have that power, the power to decide whether or not a person is going to die, you put yourself on a higher position than that person. But the UDHR says in its first article that all human beings are equal, the same. If we are equal, how can we decide about such radical changes in somebody’s life at the same time?

Another rights that will be violated as long as there is death penalty are Article 3 and Article 5.
No. 3 says that everybody has the right to life. If somebody is executed his life will be taken. And that is wrong, according to the UDHR.
No. 5 says that punishing somebody by torture or on a cruel inhuman or degrading way is wrong. Now the question is: Is death penalty cruel? But then: What is cruel/cruelty?
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, being cruel means that somebody or something is causing pain or suffering. (3)
So, is death penalty causing pain or suffering?
Today six different methods are used: hanging, stoning, lethal injection, electric chair, shooting and gas chamber.
When a person is hanged, a rope is put around his neck and then, a door in the floor will open, so that the condemned will fall and die. If he is lucky, the length of the rope and his fall are exactly long enough. If so, he will break his back between the third and the fourth vertebra and death will be fast and painless. But most of the times the circumstances are not that good and the condemned will choke to death. Then it could take till 10 minutes before he dies, 10 very long minutes.
Also, the sight of a hanged person is not that nice; the condemned his eyes will pop out and he’ll wet his pants. All together, hanging is quite painful, and the hanged people suffer long before they finally die.
Stoning is when the condemned is buried in the ground till his waist or his neck, and stones are thrown to his head. The condemned can not move away from the stones, and it takes long before he will die.
When lethal injection is used, the condemned lies on a stretcher and is injected in both arms, one real one and one for it the first doesn’t work. Two different drugs are used; the first one will paralyze all the muscles in the body, except the heart. After a while the condemned stops breathing. The second drug blocks all the impulses of the neurons to the heart. 6 to 13 minutes after the first injection the condemned dies.
An electrician of a prison in New York invented the electric chair in 1890. The condemned is made to sit on a chair and he gets electrodes with sponges with a salt solution on his head. He also wears a cap over his face. The first shock is short and hard, it makes the brains around 60º C. After that a long but weaker shock will disturb the heartbeat.
When killed by the firing squad, the condemned stands or sits on a chair and wears a cap and dark blue clothes. 10 meters away the gunmen wait, and they’ll fire when it is commanded. The condemned gets several bullets in his body, so that he dies earlier.
In a gas chamber, the condemned is made to sit on a chair, while poisonous gas streams into the room. Because of the gas, oxygen can not mix with the blood, and the body chokes, cell after cell. With this method it will take between 2 and 18 minutes before the condemned actually dies. (4)
With all the methods the condemned suffers long, even if it takes only 10 minutes to die, those 10 minutes will be the longest of that person’s life. Death penalty makes the condemned suffer, and that’s against the Human Rights.
Article 7 says that everybody is equal before the law, and that everybody has to get equal protection of the law. But in a lot of countries not all the people are equal when it is about whom deserves death penalty and who doesn’t.
In the United States, prosecutors will ask earlier for death penalty against a black person than they do against somebody who is white. A recent investigation, held in Philadelphia (US) says that the chance that somebody has to be sentenced to death is four times higher for a black person than a white person.
And while the amount of murders on black a white in the US is nearly equal, 82% off all the executed people since 1977 has been sentenced to death because of murder on a white person. This is a serious form of racism against all the black people, a social weaker group in the society of the United States of America. (5)
The following cases will prove that court is failing a lot when it is about death penalty:
Thomas Nevius, convicted in 1982 for the murder of David Kinnamon in Las Vegas in 1980, has been on the death row in Nevada for almost 20 years. But there are several concerns we have to think about before we really execute this man.
* The trial lawyer of Thomas Nevius was inexperienced, and he admitted that Nevius didn’t get the quality of representation that a case like this one needs. The jury was left unaware of Nevius’ mental retardation, which was known since his school days.
Earlier this year (2001), six jurors of the original trial signed a written statement, which says that if they had known about Nevius’ mental state, they wouldn’t have voted for a death sentence.
The jury is a second point. The prosecutor removed all four blacks and two Hispanics so that he would be sure that Nevius would be tried in front of an all-white jury for the murder on a white man and the attempted sexual assault of a white woman.
Later, after the trial, the prosecutor told the defense lawyer: “ You don’t think I wanted al those niggers in my jury, did you?” According to Amnesty International(6)
* Wanda Jean Allen has been set to become the first African-American woman to be put to death in the USA since 1954. Her jury was left unaware of her substantial mental impairments, because her lawyer wasn’t experienced enough.
* The jury of the trial of Bobby Harris never heard important evidence, because his lawyer was too ill with cancer and failed to prepare adequately for the trial. He is due to be executed in North Carolina on 19 January. According to Amnesty International (7) Death penalty violates human rights. It violates our right of equality, our right to life, our right of protection against cruel punishments and it violates our right that gives us equal protection from the law.
Death Penalty: Revenge?

When a beloved one is murdered, the family members are very sad. They want to know why their beloved one is killed so suddenly. Of course, they want the murderer to be punished as hard as it can be.
But it’s not the family who can decide about the punishment of the murderer. Court decides how high the punishment should be: some years in prison, the rest of his life in prison, or death penalty.
Most of the people who lost a beloved one want the murderer to be killed, to suffer. As a revenge for what they have done. But here they make a huge mistake in their rage and grief. People are not punished out of revenge, but to give the community a signal and to force the guilty person to change his behavior. A judge has to weigh all the evidence carefully to make the right decision, with the full awareness that this is not always satisfying the victim’s family. According to Amnesty International (8)
But not everybody wants the murderer of his or her beloved ones to be killed. Dorothea Morefield, mother of a murdered son thinks death penalty is just another killing.
On March 6, 1976, her son Richard Jr. was shot at the age of 19, during a robbery while he was working at a Roy Rogers’ restaurant in Virginia.
First, her rage and grief blinded Mrs. Morefield and she tells: “When I realized he was dead, I could see only black; my whole life was shattered into little pieces. I wanted to kill the murderer, even though I didn’t know who he was at the time.” But later she realized that her hatred toward the murderer was only hurting herself. “I focused on the criminal instead of my son, whom I loved so much. It was necessary for me to learn ways to put hatred out of my life.”
Morefield thinks that death penalty is just another way of killing. “The death penalty doesn’t help anyone. It just adds more violence which we don’t need in this world.” Morefield supports a system that helps people out of their pain. In 1982 she became the first representative of Called Parents of Murdered Children, a nationwide organization of families of murder victims bound by their grief. She also spoke on symposiums in London and Amsterdam, held by Amnesty International. She did so to raise public awareness of this issue. “I want to make something good come out of my son’s death. No matter how much I hate the murderer, my son won’t come back.” According to class (9)

Somebody who shares these feelings is Coretta Scott King (picture), widow of the murdered Martin Luther King Jr. He was shot on April 4, 1968, while giving a speech on a hotel balcony. This news broke her heart, but Coretta Scott King knew she had to be strong: “Although I have lost my husband and mother-in-law to gunmen, I cannot accept the judgement that their killers deserve to be executed. I believe the death penalty continues the cycle of violence and destroys all hope for a descent society.” According to Voices of the Gaps, Women Writers of Color (10)
Death Penalty is a tribunal punishment and therefore it can not be used as a revenge, how much the victims family that would have wanted. In their rage and grief people can do strange things. It’s better to help people deal with their grief, instead of giving in to it.

A lesson taught by contradiction

"Are we better off today than we were eight years ago? You bet we are...
But we're not just better off; we're also a better country.
We are today more tolerant, more decent, more humane...."
According to Amnesty International (11)
This is what former President Bill Clinton said on the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles on 14 August 2000. But the United States is one of the many countries that shows it citizens that killing is wrong by killing.
This is very strange, like if I kill somebody, I will be killed by court, because I did something wrong. But the people of court won’t die, no; they did something good by killing the bad guy. But still, they are killing, and a lot of people think that the killing, which is done by the murderer or court, is just the same. They end somebody else’s life, and that is wrong according to court, that’s a contradiction.
President Bush proclaimed the week beginning on Sunday 9 December 2001 as Human Rights Week. 10 December would be Human Rights Day and 15 December Bill of Rights Day. He also recalled the attacks of 11 September 2001 on New York and Washington and stated: “When our essential rights are attacked, they must and will be defended.”
But in the same time, President Bush supports capital punishment, which indeed violates Human Rights, but these should be protected when attacked, just as he said. This is another contradiction.
Even worse is the fact that this Human Rights Week is marked by two more executions. Bryan Parker, scheduled to be put to death in Georgia on the evening of 11 December 2001 and Vincent Cooks was set to be killed in the Texas lethal injection chamber on 12 December 2001. According to Amnesty International (12)

Death penalty is not the good method to teach the citizens of one country that killing is wrong. And for the United States: Death Penalty is casing a deepening shadow over the reputation of a country that considers itself a champion of human rights.

Conclusion

Should death penalty be abolished worldwide? If you look at the reasons in this report you could say that. First, death penalty violates the human rights, which are registrated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Not all the countries in the world have signed this declaration, but there are some countries, like the United States, that did sign, but still use capital punishment. That’s a very bad thing, you can’t just throw away the UDHR.
Second, families of murder victims want the murderer of their beloved one to be killed, as a revenge for what they have done. But a punishment can not be used as revenge. Punishment is used to force the culprit to change his behavior. And then there are people like Dorothea Morefield and Coretta Scott King, who realize that death penalty is nog the solution. They are no longer blinded by their grief anymore; they have learned how to deal with it instead of giving in to it.
And last but not least, the state contradicts herself, when they want to teach their citizens the lesson that “killing is wrong”, and the used method is killing. President Bush wants to defend the attacked human rights, but on the other hand he violates them by supporting death penalty. If such high people make contradict them on a way like this, when we talk about human lives, it might be better to stop with what we are doing right now, and do it on a different way. Or, it might be better to abolish death penalty and organize punishment on a better way.

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