Death Penalty

The United States of America: A Beacon for Civil Rights

Amnesty International released this map in March, 2011: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/deathpenalty/u-s-in-top-5-for-executions-worldwide/. The map shows which countries have abolished the death penalty world-wide. According to Amnesty, more than 2/3rds of the countries of the world have either abolished the death penalty or have not executed anyone within the past decade. In the U.S., 1/3 of the states have also elected to abolish the death penalty. This past year, 2010, however, the U.S. has ranked top five for the MOST executions carried out across the planet, only surpassed by China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen, as illustrated by this graph from Amnesty International:

It is troubling to see that the U.S., which holds itself in high esteem for its human rights strides over the past century or so, has managed to retain a policy of such a draconian and barbaric nature. All across the world, the U.S. condemns the leaders of other countries for not allowing a basic level of human rights that we in the U.S. consider to be fundamental. These include such great ideals as in our first amendment: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to assembly, and the right to petition the government. These basic rights we allow our citizens and demand from other countries, and yet, something that seems so obviously unjust and uncivilized, such as capital punishment, has still managed to continue in this country, meanwhile other nations surpass us by abolishing this abhorrent system.

It is atrocious that a country that aims to lead the rest of the world in so many ways could allow itself to lag so far behind when it comes to capital punishment. Not only is capital punishment detestable on a moral level, it is also ineffective, as there is no evidence that it deters future crime, racially imbalanced, with a statistically higher number of minorities on death row (most especially when the victim is white), socio-economically imbalanced, with more lower-class individuals on death row, and it is far more expensive than sentencing someone to life without parole.

What is obvious is that the death penalty cannot continue in this country if we wish to maintain our standing in the world as a leader in human rights. We must follow the path that countries around the world have already paved and abolish the death penalty across the U.S. In order to end on a positive note, the following list is from Amnesty International’s web page of countries that have abolished the Death Penalty since 1961:

Abolitionist for all crimes:

• Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Iceland, Panama, San Marino, Uruguay, Venezuela
Abolitionist for ordinary crimes:
• Austria, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland
No Executions in the Past 10 Years and A Policy Not to Carry Out executions
• Andorra, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Cape Verde, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay
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3 thoughts on “The United States of America: A Beacon for Civil Rights

  1. Pingback: Crime and Capital Punishment | Crash Culture

  2. Pingback: Crime and Capital Punishment | HumanRightsPA

  3. Pingback: PADP » Crime and Capital Punishment: Maryland Abolishes Death Penalty

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