Capital Punishment

Capital punishment (also called death penalty) refers to the execution of an offender as punishment for a serious crime or offence. Although it is still practiced in some societies, most developed countries have abolished capital punishment.

4,858 Questions
Criminal Law
US Constitution
Capital Punishment

Which US states currently have the death penalty?

As of July 2011, the following 34 states have capital punishment statutes:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Idaho
  11. Indiana
  12. Kansas
  13. Kentucky
  14. Louisiana
  15. Maryland
  16. Mississippi
  17. Missouri
  18. Montana
  19. Nebraska
  20. Nevada
  21. New Hampshire
  22. North Carolina
  23. Ohio
  24. Oklahoma
  25. Oregon
  26. Pennsylvania
  27. South Carolina
  28. South Dakota
  29. Tennessee
  30. Texas
  31. Utah
  32. Virginia
  33. Washington
  34. Wyoming


United States Government (federal law)

United States Military

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty as of July 2011.

Capital Punishment
High School

Is Columbine High School still open?

Yep, and it's a really good school.:)

Law & Legal Issues
Capital Punishment

Is there jail time for lying on a police statement?

Yes. Depending on the jurisdiction and the judge, a person could be facing up to a year in jail for falsifying a police report. Also could be heavily fined.

Added: Also if your false statement materially altered, hindered, or obstructed a criminal investigation you could be charged with Obstruction Of Justice."

History of Australia
History of France
Capital Punishment

What was the guillotine used for?


Invented in 1791 by a Frenchman named Laquiante and Tobias Schmidt, a German engineer, it is named for the French doctor who oversaw its development, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.

It consists of a large wooden frame housing a heavy metal blade between two upright guides. When lifted and released, the blade falls freely (like an ax) to behead condemned prisoners. It replaced hanging as a method of execution in 18th Century France, and was used on many individuals during the French revolution, notably King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Similar tools are now made small and sharp enough to prepare a cigar for smoking.

Capital Punishment
Charles Manson

What are pros over a life sentence vs death penalty?

The debate for capitol punishment is equal to the 'pro-choice, pro-life' abortion debate. I'm not sure if there is a right or wrong, but strong feelings on both sides.

The pros for life can depend on the state and circumstances of the crime. Some states don't have the 'life with no parole' option. In these states it would be death or eventual parole. A perfect example of this would be the case of Charles Manson and his zombie followers. They were given a death sentence but when capital punishment was overtuned in a higher court all death cases were turned to life with parole. Thank goodness no parole board has turned them loose.

There are many people that feel life is the only choice, murder is murder to them whether it was the defendant or the state, it's still murder in their eyes. There are some crimes, that are so horrific and gruesome, that death is the only just sentence, for death penalty supporters.

Then there is the financial aspect. One view is that is cost so much to house and feed a prisoner for life is cripling to the state or federal prison that houses them. But again, it cost millions per prisoner to execute the condemed due to the lengthy appeals that are built-in to every death sentence.

And lastly, the judicial system has to decide if the prisoner will be a future threat. Even inside prison walls, there is violence and sometimes murders. So even though they may never see the outside ever again, there is still a danger to everyone on the inside, including prison staff such as guards. Jeffrey Dahmer and Albert DeSalvo are perfect examples of prison violence.

I hope this has been helpful. Every person has to decide what they are morally comfortable with.

Capital Punishment

Where does death penalty still happen?

Electric chair : (USA, Philippines)

Beheading : Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Falling (Chile, Iran)

Hanging : Afghanistan, Burma, Chad, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mongolia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine, Malawi, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka,Turkey, Yemen, Zimbabwe

- Shooting , in Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burkino Faso, Chad Chile , China, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Grenada, Grenada, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Madagascar,North Korea, Philippines, Russia (Russian Federation), Turkmenistan, , Uzbekistan, Vietnam

- Stabbing (Somalia)

- Stoning (Iran)

Lethal injection is also used in Belarus · People's Republic of China · Ecuador · Egypt · India · Iran · Iraq · Israel · Japan · Malaysia · Mongolia · North Korea · Pakistan · Russia · Saudi Arabia · Singapore · South Korea · Taiwan · Tonga as an alternative


In The US : The states where Capital punishement is a legal form of judgement (but not always used)

Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Illinois and Kentucky - Electric chair

Nebraska abolished electrocution as punishment in 2008

In Utah, Idaho and Oklahoma (Shooting)

In Washington, Delaware and New Hampshire (Hanging)

Gas Chamber is an alternative in California and Wyoming bur is not used.

French Revolution
Capital Punishment

Who did Maximilien Robespierre execute?

He never served as an executioner, but he voted in favor of the death penalty for hundreds.

History of the United States
Capital Punishment

Who was sent to the electric chair twice?

Willie Francis. Having survived his first encounter with capital punishment, Willie was soon informed that the state would try to kill him again in six days.

Criminal Law
Capital Punishment

The lessening of punishment for a wrongdoing is called?

^ If you are in Odysseyware, the answer is "Indulgence".

You're welcome, i know you didn't say "Thank you"

History of France
French Revolution
Capital Punishment

What was the reaction to Louis XVI's execution?

It was poorly received in Europe and America.

Abraham Lincoln
Criminal Law
Capital Punishment

Where was Lewis Thornton Powell hanged?

At Fort McNair in Washington, DC. (Powell was part of the conspiracy that killed Lincoln. He tried to assassiniate Sec. of State Seward.)

Capital Punishment
Death and Dying

Can death be defined?

The subject of death is wondrous and mysterious to the average human. Most people ask the same question: What does it feel like to die? What happens after we die? The question to those cannot be answered, and death is a term people will have to accept. Yes, death is in the dictionary.

Capital Punishment
Court Procedure

Why hanging punishment execute before sunrise?

Unsure as to the answer, but believe it to be solely by "custom."

Criminal Law
Capital Punishment

In Texas would someone who committed manslaughter suffer the death penalty?

Manslaughter is charged when a death occurs by criminal misconduct without malice, such as when a drunk driver causes the death of a vehicle occupant in an accident. The death penalty is imposed only when a person is convicted of murder, which is the intentional and unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought--that is, the murderer intended to kill that person.

History of France
French Revolution
Capital Punishment

Who fell victim to the Reign of Terror?

Almost anyone who was not a part of the Committee of Public Safety. During the Reign of Terror, citizens were accused of not being active enough during the revolution. Anyone who did not seem to support the revolution was subject to the Terror.

Capital Punishment

Why is capital punishment humane?

Well, many people still believe that the execution of murderers is not humane. Although we have tried to decrease the pain of executions throughout the years but many believe that people still experience a lot of pain. The lethal injection method which is used today for most executions is supposed to be painless. Thiopental Sodium which is supposed to render the person unconscious may not fully work and therefore still allows the pain of the other two drugs. Therefore since they are unconscious they can't express the pain that they are feeling even though they are suffering.

Criminal Law
Capital Punishment

Does Florida have the death penalty?

Yes, they do and are not hesitant to apply it.

Capital Punishment

What are arguments for and against capital punishment?

Capital Punishment

I agree with the last poster and you are correct with your stats, but think of this ... for every 7 innocent people 30 or more are out per year that shouldn't be. Again I stress, watch your news and see just how many terrible crimes are committed and most are re offenders. So, do we hang onto these murderers for 7 to 10 years while the justice system ploughs through case after case, or do we get these people out of society re a death penalty?

Every time I look at the news some husband has killed his wife and now there is a case where a father killed his wife and kids. He's caught red-handed. What ticks me off is his lawyer is trying to set him free and that one I'll never understand.

We have cases in Canada where someone was convicted of a crime (one young fellow was 14 years old) and after 25 years in prison he was set free. Fair, I think not, because it was a bungled investigation from the beginning. They actually suspected a higher up in the Air force of killing this young girl, but did nothing about it. There was no DNA to help this young man of 14, but through a miracle of signed petitions and lack of evidence in today's standards he was set free. He's not bitter, but fighting for his right to have his name cleared. When asked if he thought people convicted of murder should be executed he said "yes!" I would think after 25 years in prison he would have seen the worst of the worst in other prisoners. This man is not bitter, has a family and well liked in his community. Because of media hounding him and books written about him he has since moved from B.C., and I have not mentioned his name on this post out of respect for him.

I think if one could see the aftermath of carnage on victims inflicted by a mad dog, then we would be singing a different tune. If the evidence is packed against them, then so be it. I'm still for the death penalty.


According to every prison 99% of all prisoners say they are innocent. Here are some opinions:

  • I'm for the death penalty when it comes to murder. I live in Canada and we have the softest laws going here and most of us are sick to death of it and fighting for tougher laws. People who murder, maim, or are deviates and are a danger to society should be put out of their misery to keep our streets safe. Not only that, but it costs the tax payers a great deal of money in court costs and the stay of the criminal in prison. I can imagine you are thinking "Right, bet she couldn't do it" well, you're wrong! If someone murders another human being and especially the innocent such as children I could pull that switch and not blink an eye. My cousin was raped and murdered when she was 9 years old and her dad was right there to see the guy that did it hang. Did her dad feel bad? Not at all. It didn't bring back his daughter, but he didn't want another child to go through what his child went through. It is a fact that 90% of offenders will re-offend. Prisons are over-crowded. I think each criminal should be given a year in prison to give some a chance to prove their innocence (there have been more and more cases because of DNA where the wrong person is in prison.) Other than that they shouldn't get a break at all. Ask yourself this ... did they give their victim a break?
  • I feel that capital punishment is not justified. I base my argument on that any murder is cruel and unusual punishment, no matter what the person being executed has been convicted for. I admit that when I hear of some of the horrible crimes people commit I do wish they could be dragged through the street and publicly tortured and murdered, but these are just human emotions wanting revenge for what they have done to their victims. Under the basis of law I feel that we have no right to take another's life, no matter how much we hate them and what they have done.
  • If someone commits a crime that is so heinous as to consider the death penalty as punishment, then I think it should be done. When someone proves that they don't deserve to be a member of society anymore, then they need to be removed from that society for the protection of its weakest members. To remove someone, you could put them in jail for life, but the fact that Charles Manson is up for parole every few years should be enough proof that a life sentence only means 20 or so years. The only way to make sure that this person doesn't hurt anyon else is through the death penalty. Given our system, that means probably 12-15 years on death row until all appeals have been heard. If the appeals have all been rejected, I don't see how we can be any more sure than that - given DNA evidence and recent forensic technology.
  • Statistically speaking, executions and capital punishment do not work. The US is the only Western industrialized nation to still perform executions, yet the US's crime and murder rate numbers are literally mind-boggling when compared to other nations and enactment of the death penalty has not proven to reduce these numbers. I can go into the psychology of criminals and murderers, the nature of violence and all that. Read the book "Violence" by J. Gilligan. Basically the death penalty does not work and there are more effective and humane ways to treat murderers.
  • Deterrence is not the only role of criminal punishment. Although it may not satisfy every one's sense of right and wrong (especially if they have not been victimized), treating brutal murderers humanely is not what many people want. They want justice, or even revenge.
  • I may sound like a mini Hitler when I say .... bleeding hearts do more harm in this area of the death penalty than they can ever imagine. I believe in human life as well, but, we, as society have to put it in perspective. It has to be a "life for a life" and it's not all about revenge. Taking the killer's life doesn't bring the victim back. Prisons are over-flowing, tax payers are drained because of these misfits living in our society and as one poster said there is Charles Manson coming up for parole every so many years and every time he does Sharon Tate's family has to relive that terrible night over and over again because they have to stop that parole from succeeding. I've seen families suffer from the murder of a loved one and therefore, the murderer, if found guilty should be humanly put down like you would a rabid dog. The victim's families can rest in peace as best they can without fear of the mad dog being set free.

Put it this way ... if you made excuses as to why someone murdered 5 people or murdered 4 - 5 members of a family one night, and the law stated the person would only have to serve 15 - 20 years and they were out of prison, how would you feel if this person was on the loose and because of people that don't believe in the death penalty this guy is back out on the streets killing again and did you ever think it could happen to you, or a member of your family! Watch the news, read the papers, because most of the people that kill or abuse and murder children have prior convictions!

I took criminology as well and studied serial killers, and trust me, these people are a few pickles short of a jar. I have also talked to victims who have lost a member to murder. It doesn't matter what happened to the murderer before to give them excuses as how they act out today. Many terrible things happen to some of us and we don't go around taking lives. We have to wise up and realize there are just humans (I use that term lightly) that enjoy killing and enjoy watching their victims suffer and many laugh at the justice system because more than likely the killer will get life at best because of an insanity plea. The most misused law is "the insanity plea" and many in society are into denial that "beasts" crawl around in our society killing humans. They could be your families, or your neighbor's family they murder. I have no pity for a person that is proven guilty re murder.

There is a murder trial going on in New Westminster, B.C. the "Pickton Case" or "The Pig Farm Murders." I live within 8 miles of the site where over 50 prostitutes were murdered and most of us are blasted mad! It went on right under our noses. If any of you are interested in following this trial then search for "The Pickton Farm Murders" or, "The Pig Farm Murders." I would like to clear up that the term "Pig Farm" is called this because the Pickton's were wealthy brothers (both very strange individuals) who operated a pig farm. I am following this trial and know already that although Pickton plied these prostitute with free drugs, booze, etc., (the girls were basically sent to slaughter) that the one brother that is being charged didn't murder the girls. There are many who murdered these girl, and we, as a society here want to see justice served! We don't want to see this horrific murder case slip through the justice system as so many do here in British Columbia. Many of you may think that prostitutes are in a dangerous business (that they are) and don't deserve police or trial time but they are human and they harmed no one and no one has a right to murder another human being with the exception of war.

In my case it's not about revenge, but with prisons over-flowing (and if one takes the time to understand the legal system) many offenders that shouldn't be out on the streets are released simply because the prisons are over-flowing. I stand behind the victims and what they've had to go through. Most people just want the person that murdered "put to sleep" like you would an animal (mercy killing of sorts.) If you read about serial killers some actually want the death penalty while others are smug and arrogant and use the justice system to their best interests.

My point is, if it was your wife, girlfriend, brother, sister, etc., murdered how would you feel then? How would you feel looking into the eyes of the person that killed your love one! It's not about revenge but there are only two kinds of killers ... one with no remorse and eyes dead as a shark's eyes, or, a mad man that looks like he wouldn't harm a fly, but would slit your throat if you turned the right way. It doesn't matter at this point what made them do it. It's time society got their head out from under their rock and realized ... there are just bad people out there!

Capital punishment is not and never has been a deterrent to murder. Since 1989 125 people on death row have been exonerated by the use of DNA evidence. All state and federal appellate courts are backlogged with cases awaiting the processing of DNA evidence in homicide cases.

A death row prisoner John Kogut was just released from prison after doing 17 years for murder, a crime that has now been proven beyond a doubt that he was completely innocent of committing.

Due to the use of DNA evidence the average number of persons being found innocent of the crime of murder is now 7 per year.

I am not a preacher nor do I desire to be. Only one simple question needs to be addressed for each individual to make the decision on how they feel about the death penalty. Is the legality of capital punishment worth the execution of seven or even one innocent person?


To the above poster, you made some very good points. You've basically answered your own question. There is now DNA so there will be fewer innocent people sent to prison or get the death penalty. I agree with you that DNA has saved so many lives. Unfortunately, even in war, officers have said, "To kill thousands can save millions!" That doesn't make any sense to me either. I myself don't like the idea of taking human life, but, society has to take some of the responsibility to stand up against allowing convicted murderers or rapists to be let out on the streets yet once again (it's on the news often) and to only re offend yet once again. Are you willing to be responsible for the next life that criminal takes? Are you willing to allow some sadistic, sick person to kill more children? Although capital punishment doesn't seem to bother those who chose this way of life, it does get them off the face of the earth from further harming more victims. I still stand behind the death penalty!


Someone above tried to bring up statistics that "prove" the death penalty does not deter murder. Other statistics prove exactly the opposite. It is true that, among industrialized nations, the US is the only one that still practices the death penalty, yet has the highest murder rate. But a good statistician realizes that this is a SPURIOUS relationship. In actuality, there is a third variable here, one that explains both the existence of capital punishment and the prevalence of murder. That factor, in my opinion, is testosterone.

Testosterone is the hormone that inclines men (and to a lesser extent, women) toward violence. Though generally regarded as a bad thing, violence has its place, such as in defense of your life or liberty, or that of those you love. A man without testosterone would let everyone walk all over him. A man with too much testosterone kills others for little or no reason.

My theory is that we have much more testosterone here in the US than is present in the other industrialized nations. Think about it. Our ancestors CAME FROM those other industrialized nations (i.e., Europe). They came here because they felt the European governments under which they lived did not respect their rights. Not only did they have the bravery to speak out against their oppressive governments, they had the bravery to LEAVE civilization and take a dangerous sea voyage to a land thousands of miles away, inhabited by savage natives. It is my theory that everyone in Europe who had any testosterone to speak of LEFT Europe over 300 years ago. Today, those who remain in Europe are the descendants of the testosterone-deprived mommas boys that stayed, while those who live in America are descended from the brave, rugged, innovative, testosterone-rich people that LEFT Europe 300 years ago. Of course, over time, we have lost much of that testosterone, but we still have much more than our cousins across the pond. That testosterone advantage makes us more likely to murder others. It also makes us more likely to demand death to want revenge for murder.

Today, executions in the US are rare. I say this in all seriousness. Even in Texas, commonly regarded as the most prolific capital punishment state, less than 1% of all murderers suffer the death penalty. That means there is a 99% chance of NOT being put to death if you murder someone. Of course it's not a deterrent. But it would be if, say, half of all murderers were executed.

You want statistics? Compare the US now to the US 100 years ago. Capital punishment was not only legal back then, but WIDELY USED, and not just for murderers, but several other violent crimes. The crime rate in general, and the murder rate in particular, were much lower than they are today.



states without the death penalty average lower murder rates.

the costs from trial to execution are significantly higher than the costs a prisoner would incur in a lifetime.

you are more likely to face execution if: you are male, you are black, you killed a white person.

there is some debate as to whether it is unconstitutionally cruel

most other industrialized nations have abandoned capital punishment, and have openly condemned the U.S.'s use of it.


it removes prisoners from already crowded jails, but only 37 people were executed in 08


I do not promote Capital punishment in the least. I know what your going to say "think about if some one killed your mom or your husband or child" I did think about that, but if you wanna ask me that question, let me ask you a question... What if your best friend in your whole life killed some one, then they were sorry and wanted forgiveness and a 2nd chance, and you were standing there when they killed a person. You are holding a gun. Do you kill your Best friend, or give them a 2nd chance? That's basicaly whats happening. People need 2nd chances. Now God sent Jesus to take away all our sins right? right. Now do you think that doesn't include murder? And besides... The Bible says ONE SIN IS EVEN WITH ANOTHER IN GODS EYES. He's not like, " Oh this person stole a candy bar when they were 5 so I'll go ahead and forgive them"...But he's also not like "This person murdered some one, I'll not forgive them" No. A sin is a sin and that's that. Capital punishment is wrong.

The Bible?

You want to bring up the Bible?! The Bible also says "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. Your quote refers to how God compares sins, and yes, in Hiseyes, they are all the same. But, in prescribing earthlypunishment for crimes (not sins), He clearly endorses capital punishment.

As for your question about my best friend murdering someone ... absolutely! My best friend, my brother, my mother, my father, my wife, my son, my daughter, even me myself - makes no difference. You murder someone, you need to die! It's not about revenge. It not even about deterrence (though I am absolutely positive that, if utilized fully, capital punishment would be a very effective deterrent). It's about fairness. If an innocent person is denied the rest of his/her life by some scumbucket, then it's absolutely unfair that the scumbucket gets to keep the rest of his life, even if he loses his freedom.

I, for one, am sick and tired of being called "uncivilized" for my views on capital punishment. So let me present another way of looking at this. It's the anti-death-penalty crowd that is "uncivilized". Before civilization came about, by definition, there was no organized punishment for crimes. It was only with the advent of civilization that we learned that the only way to prevent strong people from taking advantage of weak people was to create governments, make laws, and enforce those laws, with punishments. And it didn't take long to figure out that the punishment had to be at least as bad as the crime, or it would not deter the crime. Before civilization, our neanderthal forebears didn't actively seek "justice" for the murders of their loved ones. They cowered in fear, afraid that, if they protested, the murderer would kill another loved one. You anti-death-penalty advocates like to pretend that you're so much better than us, so much more civilized, so much more compassionate, so much more respectful of human life. But you're no better than those cowardly cavemen! You're scared of violent people, and you think that, if you push for lenient "punishments" on them, then they won't come after you. But you don't really respect human life, except your own cowardly lives. You're just a bunch of scared little cavemen. It is the pro-death-penalty advocates who are truly civilized, truly compassionate, trulyrespectful of human life.

Possibly a last word?

Let's forget all the emotive arguments about some innocent people being executed by mistake etc, and the old Biblical 'eye for an eye' chestnut dragged up again in the answer above, by a Biblical pseudoscholar (?) which, incidentally, if you rightly read in context, was meant to be a limit for punishment so that vindictive revenge didn't take place, and not as a tit-for-tat retribution. Sadly there are those who use Biblical quotes incorrectly and out of context in all sorts of ways, either out of ignorance or sheer malice, just so that they can maintain their oppressive or vindictive stance, and be able to 'back it up' by their bastardisation of the Word of God.

The argument that the death penalty acts as a suitable deterrent is very weak. Those countries that have a death penalty have no lower murder rates than those who do not - and in many cases have a higher rate. For example, the USA in total has a much higher rate of murder than the UK, although the UK has had no death penalty since the 1960s. The easiest way to compare is in the USA, where states that have retained the death penalty have no lower rates of murder than states who have not, and in some cases have a much higher murder rate. It is very easy to quote the occasional anomaly to the capital punishment/lower murder rate like Japan (0.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants), as one could equally quote others like the murder rate in Greece which is also 0.7 per 100,000 inhabitants - but Greece has no death penalty. Britain's score, incidentally, is just 2.0.

However, the undeniable facts are these: if one takes the top countries in murder rate (those with over 12 murders per 100,000 inhabitants), of the 22 countries in this particular group, 15 of the 22 HIGHEST rated countries have the death penalty, and of the 8 where the figure is 40/100,000 or higher, ALL BUT ONE has the death penalty. So, most countries that condone the death of murderers have the highest murder rates of all. The death penalty is simply not a deterrent. These irrefutable facts bear this out.

The stark fact is that whatever the penalty, murderers will murder anyway. This has happened throughout history and continues to happen today. In fact, many reports on crime and retribution have argued that, far from being a holiday camp that people believe it to be, those in prison for life find it a much harder punishment than a swift humane hanging or injection. Any prison guard will tell you that - and will confirm the number of lifers on suicide watch who are desperate for their punishment to end. Having to live with what you have done, and to be reminded of it every day as you look at four walls, is certainly no picnic, and far more despised by the criminal than a swift death.

One has to ask what is punishment for. Some say that it is to come to terms with what a criminal has done. The strongest argument is for the rehabilitation of criminals. Many criminals, given the opportunity and expertise, are able to reform - including murderers. As one simple example, Nelson Mandela was a one-time enemy of the state, guilty of aiding and abetting (albeit by proxy) quite barbaric crimes against the oppressive white regime he found himself in. However, while many applauded his actions, by the law of that land he could easily have been hung, had the death penalty been used, and the world would have been 'rid' of one of the 20th Centuries greatest statesmen. Another argument is to make the perpetrator of the crime suffer. In other words, Revenge.You can call it what you like - 'fairness', 'justice' or a handful of other euphemisms, but the fact is that they all boil down to sheer vindictive revenge. However, this bloodlust against another person, this insistence that another person should die, whether a murderer or not, reduces the person seeking that revenge to the same level as the murderer. No wonder those countries that retain a barbaric form of punishment have the problems they do. To read above of those who declare themselves 'civilised' and yet cry for the death of another human, like a hag knitting at the foot of the guillotine, is not just sad, it's sickening.

Life is sacred, whatever life you talk about. If a murderer takes someone's life then he or she has violated that sanctity. It seems hypocritical if the state regards the loss of life as a violation of its sanctity and then rapidly calls for the loss of life of the murderer. To suggest that the life of a murderer is of less worth than the life of a normal person is a dangerous precedent, that can be extended to all sorts of situations - is the life of a normal person (whatever that means) worth more than that of a handicapped person? a thief? a homosexual? someone who is black/white/Asian or whatever. Christians - and may others - believe that all were created equal in the image of God, and that, as a result, all life should be thus respected whether sinful or not.

Executing someone for killing will not bring back the victim. Nor will it make the victim's family feel any 'better' despite Job's comforters who cry for revenge. Ask hundreds of families in the USA that have been in that position.

The only place that the death penalty has in the Law of the Land is in history, and there it should remain.

The Basics

There are only three issues central to this question

  • Emotions: people who have been the victims (or had their loved ones be the victims) of heinous crimes have a normal desire to want the perpetrator killed. This is a means of reasserting some control in their lives (if only after-the-fact) when the perpetrator has taken something unrecoverable away from them. The pro and con arguments on this point differ on whether it is morally sound to to want to kill someone, no matter what the justification, and whether that urge should be legitimized and promoted by the state.
  • Economics: when people who have committed truly heinous crimes, the state feels obligated to remove them from society permanently on the grounds that they are irredeemable. This means that they will inevitably spend the rest of their lives in prison, with no chance of making anything useful out of their lives. Advocates often suggest that executions are pragmatic - the end result is the same, at a great savings in costs for the prisoners upkeep. Opponents generally reject the ideas that someone is irredeemable, or that their life is necessarily wasted by being incarcerated.
  • Individual rights: Advocates of capital punishment often believe that people who commit heinous crimes forfeit all of the rights and protections that other citizens enjoy. They feel such criminals should be destroyed the way any other dangerous animal is routinely destroyed. Opponents, by contrast, feel that all citizens (down to the worst criminal element) have inalienable rights as humans that need to be respected. This point gets particularly difficult on issues of racial biases in the system, since it raises the possibility that people may have their most fundamental right (the right to life) violated for reasons that had nothing to do with their crime.

Suzi118 says:

I am not going to say anything towards either side but this:

"In October, 2008, a girl, Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried up to her neck at a football stadium, then stoned to death in front of more than 1,000 people. The stoning occurred after she had allegedly pleaded guilty to adultery in a shariah court in Kismayo, a city controlled by Islamist insurgents. According to the insurgents she had stated that she wanted shariah law to apply.

However, other sources state that the victim had been crying, that she begged for mercy and had to be forced into the hole before being buried up to her neck in the ground. Amnesty International later learned that she had been arrested by the al-Shabab militia after she had reported being gang-raped by three men. Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow was, in fact, 13 years old."

"Behnoud told the mother of the victim, "I don't have a mother. For God's sake be my mother and don't execute me." We all went inside a room, and there was an iron stool and a plastic blue noose hanging over it. Behnoud who had always dreamed to see the blue sky at the last moment of his life could only see a blue rope. The parents went in and Behnoud was taken inside a short while later. This was the room reserved for hangings. I had never seen or heard of a case where only one person was executed. I was wondering why Behnoud was being hanged alone. Perhaps it was his bad luck that he had to raise to heaven alone. People who were present in the room again begged the parents for forgiveness. The mother said, "Put the rope around his neck." Behnoud went on the stool and the rope was placed around his neck. A few moments later, the victim's parents walked over and removed the stool from under his feet. Behnoud went to heaven."

By Mohannad Mostafaei (Behnood Shojaee's Attorney)

It is a mater only to be decided by each person. Therefore I believe in the system in place in Iran (other than child executions) that the victims next of kin can decide, after the death sentence is given, whether they wish to do that. I don't know if that is right, it may only apply to child executions.



(Please donate to S.C.E. a charity that helps children who have been given the death penalty. Or a least sign their petition.)

Response to "Possibly a Last Word"I never claimed to be a Biblical scholar. However, your interpretation of the "'eye for an eye' chestnut" as a limit for punishment is just ridiculous. The Bible doesn't say "no more than one eye for an eye, no more than one tooth for a tooth, no more than one life for a life". Hell, that last part (the one that matters for this discussion) doesn't even make sense. A murderer only has one life to lose. So it's impossible to take two lives for one life. Why would God tell his people, "now, don't you guys go and kill a murderer twice; that's wrong."? It doesn't matter if it's wrong - it's impossible! It is your unsupported interpretation of scripture that is a bastardization of the Word of God.

As for deterrence, you need to go back and read my contribution ("The Bible?") again. I have admitted that countries with capital punishment often have higher murder rates than those that do not. However, as I explained, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this that does not involve rejecting the most basic rules of human psychology. And that explanation is that some countries have higher levels of testosterone. Notably, the US, whose population is composed of the decendants of brave (testosterone-rich) people who left Europe 300 years ago, taking the vast majority of Europe's testosterone supply with them. Testosterone makes people more violent, and thus both more likely to commit murders, and more likely to demand death as a punishment for murder.

Your statistics, I'm sure, are accurate. But your training in statistics is sorely lacking. The apparent correlation between capital punishment and murder rates is spurious. That's a term that any student of statistics should learn in the first statistics course ever taken. What it means is that two variables are well correlated, but there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two. Instead, there is a third variable that is affecting both of the first two. In this case, that third variable is testosterone levels.

Furthermore, as I also explained above, to the extent that the death penalty does not deter murder, it is only because it is not used nearly as often as it should be. Over 99% of murderers never face the death penalty. Many are never caught, and of those who are caught, many are not convicted, or even tried. And only first-degree murder is subject to the death penalty, and the standard for that is ridiculously high. And many first-degree murderers are allowed to plea-bargain down to lesser crimes that do not carry the death penalty. And even when convicted of first-degree murder, the jury doesn't HAVE to give the death penalty, and most don't. And even if sentenced to the death penalty, there are appeals, stays of execution, commutation of sentences, etc. And don't forget escapes. And, at a minimum, a death sentence takes at least ten years to be carried out. So even for the small percentage of murderers who lose their life for their crime, they still get to live ten years longer than their victims did. So, no, the death penalty is not a very effective deterrent. But let's change the laws to make it more likely, say 50%, that a murderer is executed, and then let's see if that's an effective deterrent.

If convicted murderers prefer the death penalty to life in prison, as you claim, then answer one question for me - Why do so many (most if not all) convicted murderers who are sentenced to death, appeal that sentence? I'm not talking about appealing the conviction (though that happens a lot also). I'm talking about people who fully accept the guilty verdict, but fight tooth and nail against the death sentence. Sure, a life sentence "is certainly no picnic". But if it was truly "more despised ... than a swift death", then why do convicted murderers fight so hard to get a life sentence and avoid the swift death? (These appeals, by the way, are the only reason that executing a murderer costs more than keeping him locked up for the rest of his life, so if that's really a concern, it can be eliminated by limiting the number of appeals a death-sentence convict can file.)

And you seem to be contradicting yourself. You claim that a life sentence is a worse punishment than death. You also claim that the desire to make the criminal suffer is not an adequate justification for punishment of crimes. If you believe both of these statements, then you would be in favor of the death penalty, because the death penalty involves less suffering than life in prison.

Nelson Mandella is a very poor example. By all accounts, he was a political prisoner, sentenced to prison because of his great statesmanship (or at least his potential for such), not in spite of it. Nevertheless, if he had truly been guilty of murder, he should have been executed, despite his accomplishments up to that point, and afterwards. But he was not executed. Not because the South African government didn't want to execute him - they surely did. But because his crimes could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be labeled "murder". Do not doubt for one moment that if the oppressive, racist White South African government could have legally gotten rid of what they considered the biggest "troublemaker" in their country, they would have done so in a heartbeat. Nelson Mandela was not executed because he was not a murderer, simple as that. And I'm absolutely okay with that, because I do not condone the death penalty for political prisoners. Now, do you have any real murderers who, because they were not executed, went on to contribute significantly to society?

Your "dangerous precedent" argument is pure idiocy. It's not about murderers vs "normal people". It's about murderers vs those who believe that life is sacred. Most handicapped people believe life is sacred. So do most thieves, homosexuals, blacks, whites, asians, Hispanics, you name it. Murderers, by definition, do not. If someone doesn't believe that life is sacred, on what grounds can he expect his own life to be regarded by others as sacred? And on what grounds should we extend our belief in the sanctity of life to such a person? Civilization is a contract between people. Those who cannot accept the obligations of that contract are simply not entitled to the benefits of that contract. A murderer does not accept the obligation to respect the rights of others to live, and therefore he is not entitled to the benefit of a right to live. It's as simple as that.

Capital Punishment
State Laws
Police and Law Enforcement

What is criminal code section 20-4-102?


Criminal Law
Police and Law Enforcement
Capital Punishment

Is capital punishment a deterrent to crime?

It effectively deters those who receive it. They don't commit any crimes again.

We can never know if a deterrent worked. We cannot know how many crimes would have been committed without the deterrent. We must use common sense. The threat of severe punishment would surely deter some people. That is what many criminals have said. Even if capital punishment did not deter all murders, it might deter some. Given it would be cheap to implement (cheaper than prison sentences) and might work it seems like a good idea. People say it is barbaric. Sounds terrible. They never say why it is wrong. Can it be wrong to try to reduce murders? Should we worry about hanging a few murderers? What if we execute an innocent person? Firstly, if the deterrent works there will be less murders and so less chance of false convictions. Secondly, if we reduce the risk of being murdered by more than we create the risk of wrongful conviction we should win on balance. There are many murders each year; very few wrongful convictions.

AnswerThe threat of the death penalty is no deterrent...people are arrogant and they premeditate the act thinking they will be like OJ and get away with it because they are smarter than everyone else or they commit the crime in the heat of passion and punishment never even enters their mind until after...then the "I can beat this" attitude kicks in and they try to cover it up. These attitudes persist as do murder rates, the latter of which is not affected by the existence of capital punishment.

The death penalty should not be argued for from the standpoint of being a deterent, because it is not. Rather it should be argued that the punishment must fit the crime. Those who kill should be killed.

The unfortunate thing is that if you wish to mete out true justice doing so will eventually bankrupt your society. It is good that we want to take every precaution not to convict an innocent person, but a real shame that we have so many bad people that we cannot afford the required justice for all of them and therefore we end up with a bad compromise.

AnswerSpiritual decline is evidenced throughout the western world, with the rejection of the Christian faith and its replacement with secular evolutionary humanism. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or chairman Mao committed the murder of millions Stalin likening it to being no different to mowing a lawn.

The prisons are not suddenly (or even slowly) emptying with the decline in spiritual values. The removal of the death penalty is a symptom of the rejection of absolutes as well as the downgrading of the value of human life and so it probably is not solely responsible for any increase in murder alone but is part of the wider picture. Nor would it necessarily prove anything if places which had a lower rate of murder also had the death penalty -there may be other factors, although I believe it does send a powerful message if administered correctly.

AnswerNo, States that have abolished the death penalty have shown a marked decrease in murder rates since putting such decisions into effect. Additionally, such states average significantly fewer murders per thousand than states with the death penalty. AnswerIt has never been proven that the death penalty reduces the murder rate. See Texas.

Yes it is a effective punishment as people are scared and will think twice before doing such major crimes again. And one criminal is less in the world.

It could be less effective than life inprisoment. Also, a person convicted to capital punishment may not be the real offendor.

Politics and Government
Criminal Law
Capital Punishment

Is corporal punishment a good deterrent to crime?

== == Death and Deterrence Redux: Science, Law and Causal Reasoning on Capital Punishment: In an article in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Dr. Jeffrey Fagan of Columbia University describes numerous serious errors in recent deterrence studies, including improper statistical analysis and missing data and variables that are necessary to give a full picture of the criminal justice system. Fagan writes, "There is no reliable, scientifically sound evidence that [shows that executions] can exert a deterrent effect…. These flaws and omissions in a body of scientific evidence render it unreliable as a basis for law or policy that generate life-and-death decisions. To accept it uncritically invites errors that have the most severe human costs." Since the landmark Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia in 1972, dozens of studies have been performed to determine whether future murderers are deterred by the death penalty. In the past five years, Fagan writes, a "new wave" of studies has emerged, claiming that each execution prevents 3-32 murders, depending on the study. Some of these studies tie pardons, commutations, exonerations, and even irrational murders of passion to increases in murder rates. While many of these studies have appeared in academic journals, they have been given an uncritical and favorable reception in leading newspapers. Fagan takes issue with this lack of serious and adequate peer review by fellow researchers. He analyzed this research and found that "this work fails the tests of rigorous replication and robustness analysis that are the hallmarks of good science."(4 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 255 (2006))

The Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate: A new edition of the Stanford Law Review contains an article entitled Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate. The article examines and performs comparison tests on recent studies that have claimed a deterrent effect to the death penalty. Authors John J. Donohue of Yale Law School and Justin Wolfers of the University of Pennsylvania state their goal and conclusions: "Aggregating over all of our estimates, it is entirely unclear even whether the preponderance of evidence suggests that the death penalty causes more or less murder." (58 Stanford Law Review 791 (2005)). == == Yes as a matter of fact I believe it does. Spanking, done properly, will train a child in how to function within society. We, as a society, have to have rules in order to live peacefully. If you do not teach your children to follow these rules we have chaos. Look closely at the past in this country (US) up to the sixties, spanking was a widely held practice, and the crime rates were a lot lower. But as corporal and capitol punishment became less popular the crime rates started going up. Look at the children in our schools today. The ones from two parent homes do better in most if not all catagories and the majority of them get punished as needed at home. These children are less likely to get in trouble as they reach adulthood. Granted spanking isn't the only reason for this but it is a big contributor. Here are more opinions and answers from other WikiAnswers contributors: * No. If it was it would have worked by now * Yes, if applied young enough. Spankings (properly utilized) have for hundreds of years caused children to grow up with respect for their tender bottoms and a wish to avoid doing anything that would cause such pain to again be inflicted. And if that is the promised punishment for crime they are more likely to avoid it. More seriously, proper discipline from parents (even if spankings are avoided) does prevent crime. It keeps people from growing up with the attitude that they have to right to things they haven't earned and that the rules do not apply to them. But, I would say that for adults it only works if the corporal punishment is severe and public. So, not a good system. * Yes SIR, pain retains; GOOD TO GO? * The zest of the English-speaking peoples for physical punishment is quite amazing. The answer (above) on spanking confuses respect and fear. The only other countries that have such blind confidence in corporal punishment are some of the Islamic countries! * It obviously does not work in the US, as parents have been spanking their children for centuries and the crime rate continues to increase. * Why some adults believe it is acceptable to hit children (that's what spanking is) who cannot defend themselves, yet insist on having the legal right to have a person who strikes them arrested and/or sued is a mystery to me. * I am completely against it. Not once during my childhood was i spanked or in any way physically disciplined and i have never been in trouble with the police or any other authority figure. * Coporal punishment has been distorted over time. Just spanking if anything is good for kids. I know if my parents didn't spank me I would have ended up pretty unruly with my parents and lost respect for people in control of things. Although some families full-on beat their children this just builds up anger and hate and can cause crime. Again all this can be different for different people. But I think parents should be allowed to smack their kids. (smack not beat)

Capital Punishment

In which countries is the death penalty still practiced?

According to Amnesty International 2009 records, the following countries retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes (murder, rape, etc.). Note that the United States and Japan are the only fully developed nations that still employ the death penalty, and that the United States is the only Western nation that continues this form of punishment:

Capital Punishment: Ordinary Crimes

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Antigua/Barbuda
  3. Bahamas
  4. Bahrain
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Barbados
  7. Belarus
  8. Belize
  9. Botswana
  10. Burundi
  11. Cameroon
  12. Chan
  13. China
  14. Comoros
  15. Congo (Democratic Republic)
  16. Cuba
  17. Dominica
  18. Egypt
  19. Equatorial Guinea
  20. Ethiopia
  21. Guatemala
  22. Guinea
  23. Guyana
  24. India
  25. Indonesia
  26. Iran
  27. Iraq
  28. Jamaica
  29. Japan
  30. Jordan
  31. Kazakstan
  32. Korea (North)
  33. Kuwait
  34. Lebanon
  35. Lesotho
  36. Libya
  37. Malaysia
  38. Mongolia
  39. Nigeria
  40. Oman
  41. Pakistan
  42. Palestinian Authority
  43. Qatar Saint Christopher & Nevis
  44. Saint Lucia
  45. Saint Vincent & Grenadines
  46. Saudi Arabia
  47. Sierra Leone
  48. Singapore
  49. Somalia
  50. Sudan
  51. Syria
  52. Taiwan
  53. Tajikistan
  54. Thailand
  55. Trinidad & Tobago
  56. Uganda
  57. United Arab Emirates
  58. United States
  59. Viet Nam
  60. Yemen
  61. Zimbabwe

Thirty-three countries still have capital punishment statutes, but are considered abolitionist in practice because they have not exercised the death penalty in more than ten years, and may have developed policies against carrying out executions. Some countries are signatories to an international agreement not to engage in capital punishment. Other than Russia, most of the countries are on the continent of Africa.

Capital Punishment: Extraordinary Circumstances*

  1. Bolivia
  2. Brazil
  3. Cook Islands
  4. El Salvador
  5. Fiji
  6. Israel
  7. Kyrgyzstan
  8. Latvia
  9. Peru

* Extraordinary circumstances may relate to crimes under military law.

See the map under Related Links for a graphic view of this information.
Capital Punishment

How many innocent people have died from the death penalty?


As of March 11, 2009, there have been a total of 15,645 executions due to the death penalty in the U.S.; 14,489 of these occurred before the U.S. Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional in 1972, and 1,156 occurred after capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

There is no definitive answer to the question of how many innocent people have been executed in the U.S.; however, Northwestern University School of Law's Centre on Wrongful Convictions (CWC) documented 38 executions carried out since the mid-1970s where there was compelling evidence of innocence or serious doubt about guilt. Another 130 death row inmates were exonerated, instead of executed, between 1973 and 2008 due to emerging evidence, including DNA analysis. A smaller number of people have been exonerated posthumously.

The Death Penalty Information Center estimates for every seven executions, one death row inmate is exonerated. Some of the prisoners they believe were innocent appeared to have developed dubious alibis late in the appeals process, so the determinant of guilt or innocence is subjective in many cases.

There are no records concerning wrongful executions, apart from where posthumous pardons have been granted or extensive and perseverant research has revealed a problem with the process. It isn't possible, generally speaking, for governments to admit they've killed someone illegally, so it is never discussed nor debated.


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