Monday, February 23, 2009

Race and the Death Penalty

I've never really appreciated the anti-capital punishment arguments which say it's too costly or that innocent people may be executed or that it's disproportionately applied to minorities. My focus has always been on the fact that it's morally wrong.

Recently I've had an exchange of e-mails with Ms. Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the NCADP (The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty). One thing Ms. Rust-Tierney wrote really opened my eyes.
There will always be people who believe the death penalty is not morally abhorrent -- but these people can come to see and agree with us that the death penalty should be repealed-- either because it is more trouble than it is worth or because the other harms that it causes outweigh any measure of good they believe the death penalty provides.

The following video really captures the idea of harm outweighing good. It closes with a wonderful quote from the former Supreme Court Justice, William J. Brennan, Jr.

"We remain imprisoned by the past as long as we deny its influence on the present."


  1. Of course the death penalty is both barbaric as well as unjustly administered. The names of millionaires put to death for murder are rare indeed.

    It might be helpful to list the nations of the world which still adhere to the barbaric practice. Note the company we keep:

    •Countries with 25 or more executions:

    Iraq (29), Iran (265), Pakistan (29), Saudi Arabia (156), USA (42).

    •Countries with 2 to 25 executions:

    Afghanistan (15), Bangladesh (6), China (13), Japan (9), North Korea (8), Singapore (2), Somalia (3), Sudan (2), Syria (5), Yemen (7).

    •Countries with 1 execution:

    Belarus, Botswana, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kuwait.

  2. Thanks, Mud. What better illustration could there be than the list of countries you provided. It amazes me that the rah-rah Americans can't see the shame and embarrassment we suffer by these associations.