The revision of the death penalty

The following document is a written record of convicted killer Hamida Djandoubi's last moments before he was guillotined in a Marseilles prison on September 10, This record -- dated September 9 -- was written by a judge appointed to witness the execution.

The revision of the death penalty

Historically, most felonies were punishable by death, so increasingly cruel methods of execution had to be developed in order to punish those crimes that were considered to be the most serious violations of social norms.

For example, traitors were executed by drawing and… Historical considerations Capital punishment for murdertreasonarsonand rape was widely employed in ancient Greece under the laws of Draco fl. The Romans also used it for a wide range of offenses, though citizens were exempted for a short time during the republic.

Yet capital punishment has been prescribed for many crimes not involving loss of life, including adultery and blasphemy. The prevalence of capital punishment in ancient times is difficult to ascertain precisely, but it seems likely that it was often avoided, sometimes by the alternative of banishment and sometimes by payment of compensation.

Death was formerly the penalty for a large number of offenses in England during the 17th and 18th centuries, but it was never applied as widely as the law provided. As in other countries, many offenders who committed capital crimes escaped the death penalty, either because juries or courts would not convict them or because they were pardoned, usually on condition that they agreed to banishment; some were sentenced to the lesser punishment of transportation to the then American colonies and later to Australia.

Because during medieval times the only proof of ordination was literacy, it became customary between the 15th and 18th centuries to allow anyone convicted of a felony to escape the death sentence by proving that he the privilege was extended to women in could read. To ensure that an offender could escape death only once through benefit of clergy, he was branded on the brawn of the thumb M for murder or T for theft.

Branding was abolished inand benefit of clergy ceased in From ancient times until well into the 19th century, many societies administered exceptionally cruel forms of capital punishment.

In Rome the condemned were hurled from the Tarpeian Rock see Tarpeia ; for parricide they were drowned in a sealed bag with a dog, cock, ape, and viper; and still others were executed by forced gladiatorial combat or by crucifixion.

Executions in ancient China were carried out by many painful methods, such as sawing the condemned in half, flaying him while still alive, and boiling. Although by the end of the 20th century many jurisdictions e. Other methods of execution were electrocutiongassing, and the firing squad.

Historically, executions were public events, attended by large crowds, and the mutilated bodies were often displayed until they rotted. Public executions were banned in England inthough they continued to take place in parts of the United States until the s. In the last half of the 20th century, there was considerable debate regarding whether executions should be broadcast on television, as has occurred in Guatemala.

The European Union regards this phenomenon as so inhumane that, on the basis of a binding ruling by the European Court of Human RightsEU countries may extradite an offender accused of a capital crime to a country that practices capital punishment only if a guarantee is given that the death penalty will not be sought.

Arguments for and against capital punishment Capital punishment has long engendered considerable debate about both its morality and its effect on criminal behaviour. Contemporary arguments for and against capital punishment fall under three general headings: Protesters demonstrating against the death penalty.

By contrast, opponents of capital punishment, following the writings of Cesare Beccaria in particular On Crimes and Punishments []argue that, by legitimizing the very behaviour that the law seeks to repress—killing—capital punishment is counterproductive in the moral message it conveys.

Moreover, they urge, when it is used for lesser crimes, capital punishment is immoral because it is wholly disproportionate to the harm done.

Although death was prescribed for crimes in many sacred religious documents and historically was practiced widely with the support of religious hierarchiestoday there is no agreement among religious faiths, or among denominations or sects within them, on the morality of capital punishment.

Beginning in the last half of the 20th century, increasing numbers of religious leaders—particularly within Judaism and Roman Catholicism—campaigned against it.

Opponents, however, point to research that generally has demonstrated that the death penalty is not a more effective deterrent than the alternative sanction of life or long-term imprisonment.

Practical arguments There also are disputes about whether capital punishment can be administered in a manner consistent with justice.

The revision of the death penalty

Those who support capital punishment believe that it is possible to fashion laws and procedures that ensure that only those who are really deserving of death are executed. By contrast, opponents maintain that the historical application of capital punishment shows that any attempt to single out certain kinds of crime as deserving of death will inevitably be arbitrary and discriminatory.

They also point to other factors that they think preclude the possibility that capital punishment can be fairly applied, arguing that the poor and ethnic and religious minorities often do not have access to good legal assistance, that racial prejudice motivates predominantly white juries in capital cases to convict black and other nonwhite defendants in disproportionate numbers, and that, because errors are inevitable even in a well-run criminal justice system, some people will be executed for crimes they did not commit.

Finally, they argue that, because the appeals process for death sentences is protracted, those condemned to death are often cruelly forced to endure long periods of uncertainty about their fate.

The revision of the death penalty

The abolition movement Under the influence of the European Enlightenmentin the latter part of the 18th century there began a movement to limit the scope of capital punishment.

Until that time a very wide range of offenses, including even common theft, were punishable by death—though the punishment was not always enforced, in part because juries tended to acquit defendants against the evidence in minor cases.

In the U. In Venezuela became the first country to abolish capital punishment for all crimes, including serious offenses against the state e.Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the mainland of monstermanfilm.com is mostly enforced for murder and drug trafficking, and executions are carried out by lethal injection or gun shot..

China executes the highest number of people annually, though other countries (such as Iran) have higher per capita execution rates. The estimated number of executions was 2, in Does the new revision indicate that the death penalty is intrinsically evil? One might think so, since it says the death penalty is “inadmissible” because “it is an attack on .

Death penalty opponents hold posters referring to Pope Francis as they stand outside the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson before the execution of Kelly Gissendaner by lethal injection in “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” WASHINGTON – Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice, celebrates today’s revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to say that, in all cases, the death penalty is “inadmissible.

The new revision affirms that the understanding of the inadmissibility of the death penalty grew “in the light of the Gospel.” [13] The Gospel, in fact, helps to understand better the order of creation that the Son of God assumed, purified, and brought to fulfillment. Therefore I welcome Pope Francis’ revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to unambiguously assert that the death penalty is inadmissible in all circumstances (“A Step Further, Pope revises catechism to say death penalty is ‘inadmissible’,” Aug 17 issue of the Herald).

- The Washington Post