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DUPS Amicus: Why Should We Abolish the Death Penalty?

There are various reasons for the abolition of the death penalty. Many people often cite the non-compatibility with human rights conventions and the fact that it disproportionally affects people of minority backgrounds, as well as the ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ principle. This post focuses on three other main issues with the death penalty and proposes for its abolition.

1)Problem of Innocence

The Death Penalty not only goes against the most fundamental human right protected by most jurisdictions internationally, it is often a result of an inaccurate and flawed justice system. In various cases throughout the years, innocence has been fully proven. In others, individuals have been released due to lack of strong evidence against them. One factor of the increase of exonerations is the new technology used in crime evidence processes. The newly available DNA evidence has allowed the release of more than 20 death row inmates since 1992, in the United States alone. The Death Penalty Information Centre (U.S) has itself published a list of 10 inmates “executed but possibly innocent”.

Some of the cases in which innocent individuals faced the death penalty and have recently been exonerated, are presented below.

1.David Keaton-Florida Conviction 1971

David Keaton was convicted and sentenced to death no longer than 50 years ago, for the murder of an off duty sheriff during a robbery. His conviction was overturned, on the basis of inaccurate eyewitness testimony and coerced confessions.

2.Johnny Ross-Louisiana Conviction 1975

Johnny Ross was only 16, when he was convicted and sentenced to death for rape, regardless of his trial only lasting a few hours. Investigations by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the Johnny’s DNA was different to the DNA of the actual defendant.

3. Kirk Bloodsworth-Maryland conviction 1984

Kirk Bloodworth was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young girl, despite alibi witnesses. Convicted solely on the basis of a faulty witness identification, his conviction was overturned after subsequent DNA testing confirmed his innocence.

2)No deterrence

A 2009 survey of the most leading criminologists in the United States revealed that the majority did not agree with the popular claim that the death penalty lowers the rates of homicide.

This view is further supported by the fact that murder rates in non-death penalty states has remained consistently lower than death penalty member states, for the past 20 years.

3)There is no ‘humane’ way of killing human beings

Methods of execution around the world include hanging, shooting and beheading. In the US, most capital punishments are performed by a way of ‘lethal injection’, which many claim is the most humane in comparison to the other methods. Their primary aim is to sedate and paralyse the defendant and then stop the heart. Nevertheless, there are many reported horror stories in which prisoners are not being properly sedated or the process takes a lot longer than usual. If the prisoner is not sedated properly, this leads to agonizing pain, shaking and convulsing while experiencing a heart attack.

Furthermore, no civil servants should ever be in a position of having to kill another human being. Medical professionals are often left deciding between staying true to their ethical obligations and keeping their jobs by administrating ‘humane’ lethal injections.

Due to the reasons outlined above and many others, Amicus aims to raise awareness of the issues surrounding the death penalty in the US. It also supports the US attorneys with casework, drafting documents and provides experienced lawyers to argue before international courts.

DUPS Amicus

10 Feb, 2019


Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted.

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