“An Eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. Civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi had a keen sense about Hammurabi’s code, “an eye for an eye”. This code was the “law of retaliation”; a principle that says a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree.
Gandhi commented on the ineffectiveness of this law by pointing out that violence never solved any problem, and this law only leads to an endless chain of revenge. The death penalty displays this same “eye for an eye” pattern by retaliating against criminals in a very inhumane way that could be dealt with in a much more beneficial fashion. Death penalty laws have been enforced across the globe since Eighteenth Century B.
C. Over time, countries around the world have been trying to make capital punishment more humane in an organized manner, but it’s far from perfect. Living in America, we are culturally and economically closed off from the big world around us. Most of the world’s retentionist countries idea of “humane” execution methods are hanging, firing squad, beheading, lethal injection and electrocution.
It is obvious that our criminal justice system is still trying to punish criminals for their crimes with a retaliating mindset due to the the violent fashion of most of these execution methods. Fifty eight countries worldwide participate in the death penalty process today. The capital punishment system is an unfair, immoral network that comes with painful, irrevocable mistakes and should be abolished once and for all. The death penalty has been practiced for centuries as a form of punishment.
Unofficial death sentences have been practiced around the world dating back to ancient times, but the first established death penalty laws were under the reign of King Hammurabi in Babylon in 14th century B.C. Hammurabi systemized 25 crimes to be punishable by death as part of the Hittite Code. These included things such as telling a lie or suspected witchcraft. Seven centuries later, Draco, of Athens Greece, recorded the Draconian Code of Athens which made death the only punishment for all crimes. This could have definitely been problematic in the occasion that the crime a person committed was not morally worthy of the death penalty or a situation where people were only punished for incredibly cruel crimes leaving all other less serious crimes unpunished.
This shows how lightly they may have taken the act of killing a human being, in comparison to now where people’s lives carry more weight and aren’t just ripped away without a decent amount of thinking through. As centuries preceded, the death penalty got more and more violent. In 5th century B.C. Rome, people were executed by crucifixion, drowning, burning and by being beaten to death.
While these methods seem incredibly violent, they were most likely used for the reason that there weren’t all of the resource developments we have today. In 10th century A.D. hanging became a common practice in Britain as capital punishment.
A surprising new shift occurred in England in 11th century A.D. when William the Conqueror would not allow any crime to be punished by death which of course caused an uproar of angry citizens, demanding a worse punishment for those who have undoubtedly “sinned”. In the 16th century, Britain circled back to their retaliating ways as an estimated 72,000 people were executed under the reign of King Henry VIII. It seems as though, despite our efforts to make capital punishment as fair and unbiased as possible, our personal drive to punish people out of anger, fear or sadness seems to still rear its ugly head even in today’s day and age.
The world’s war on drugs has corrupted the death penalty in a way that isn’t fair to the victims and their families. Many countries around the world are using people’s lives as a tool to prevent drug crimes from happening. Amnesty International reports that there is no actual evidence that the imprisonment and execution of drug offenders decreases the amount of drug crimes that occur in a nation. Instead of trying to rehabilitate those with drug addictions, prisons around the world are killing them and therefore getting rid of any chance of restoration. The execution of drug offenders is incredibly unfair, and if more countries around the world offered rehabilitation for drug offenders, so many more lives would be saved.
Indonesia is one of the 33 countries that executes drug offenders. Much like the Philippines, Indonesia has been facing an illegal drug crises and is executing suspected illegal drug traffickers as a way to stop drug crimes. On July 29th, two Nigerians, one Senegalese, and one Indonesian were executed for drug offenses in Indonesia’s Nusakambangan Prison. The whole process was very quick with a flood of appeals to spare the convicts at the last minute. Despite the appeals, the prisoners were shot to death by firing squad outside the prison during a rainstorm.
The inmates were given 72 hours notice until their execution and were kept in isolation with only the accompaniment of a religious counselor. In the days leading up to the men’s executions, their families were allowed to visit but were aware that the only conformation they would get that their sons had been killed was from echoing gunshots in the distance from the island where the prison is. Since the rain was so hard that night, no gunshots were heard so the families were left in the dark until they heard the tragic news on a television news bulletin. Nothing about this case is fair, and sadly there are still ten people awaiting their sentence in regards to this situation.In the Philippines, the current president Rodrigo Duterte has overseen the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug offenders. Once Duterte took office in June of 2016, he has ordered and enforced these killings, dividing the country as we know it. Duterte’s goal was to put an end to the the Philipines problem with illegal drug trafficking by enforcing an incredibly problematic anti-drug campaign. Even though these are not the typical executions carried out in prison, this situation makes it onto the list of inhumane capital punishment because people are being allowed by law to self assertively kill anyone who they suspect is breaking the law in regards to illegal drugs.
These killings have resulted in the recorded deaths of three teenagers. Fourteen year old Filipino boy, Reynaldo de Guzman, was found dead in Gapan City. His Body had been stabbed about thirty times and wrapped in packaging tape. NBC News said, before his parents identified him in the morgue, Reynaldo had been missing for twenty days, last seen near his home with 19 year old Carl Anaiz who, ten days earlier, was also discovered dead about 50 miles away.
Weeks later 17 year old student (Kian delos Santos) was killed on August 26th in Caloocan, Philippines. Police officers presented the information that Kian had pulled a gun on them as he was getting arrested which acted as their motive to kill him, but surveillance footage of the moments leading up the the 17 year old’s death captured the cops walking with him in a headlock, disproving the claim that the cops were defending themselves. Since the incident, Kian’s case has not been given justice which has resulted in an outburst of protests across the country against this violent “anti-drug campaign”. At least 7,000 suspected drug users/dealers have been killed since July (3,000 by police officers and the rest by vigilantes). The Resentment of the victims families and the general public should be a sure fire sign for these Countries governments to end these immoral deeds and are perfect examples of how secrecy and un organization can lead to corruption. Being dishonest about a case as serious as Kian’s is incredibly wrong, but being dishonest about executing a minor is even worse. CASE STUDY: NORWAY Norway is trying to deter drug crimes with a different method.
For the past 15 years, the criminal justice systems in Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, have taken on a much more restorative approach. The prisons are loosely regulated and are operated with the ultimate goal of making sure the inmates don’t make the same mistake once released back into society. Today, there are about 4,000 people behind bars in Norway out of the 5 million residents with a reconviction rate of 20%. What Ghandi said about how violence never solved any problem is truly put to the test in Norway and is proven to be correct.
If suitable treatment and care could be given to every criminal, more money mould be saved, and less lives would be lost.Norway is one of the 103 abolitionist countries in the world. Even maximum security prisons have rooms that house at least two people and provide prisoners with incredible resources such as libraries, gyms, private bathrooms, and even access to knives in the kitchen for cooking food and are allowed to roam freely throughout these places as long as they are back before curfew. The inmates where their normal clothes, of course with a lightly enforced dress-code, and are given a key to their own room . This process follows a much more nurturing and trust based protocol and prisoners are encouraged to work towards planning out their life after they are released. Prison sentences are relatively short for the most part, the maximum being 21 years. As this all may sound like lot of freedom for a prison the punishment is their isolation from the outside world including their friends and family.Most importantly, in 2013 Norway’s prisons took a “national client survey” to understand the different problems that could have played into inmate’s criminal behavior.
Not to their surprised, the results confirmed that many of the problems prisoners face had to do with addictions to alcohol and drugs as well as psychiatric problems. These weren’t just short term problems either, it was shown that the prisoners behavior, a lot of the time, correlated with long term addictions. This research initiated the growth of Prison Based Drug Treatment or PDT.
In the last four years the numbers of prisoners has dropped 34% resulting in the closing of four Norway prisons. This system gives Norwegian courts the power to make rehabilitation a court sentence. Also, in 2006, the “Narkotica” program gave certain criminals the option to sign up for rehabilitation treatment thus avoiding prison all together. If a criminal does choose the rehabilitation path, specialists come in to create a unique treatment for them.
Each treatment comes with certain requirements and if a patient refuses to follow them they will be given a prison sentence. All of these resources, if which other countries adopted, would save a large amount of money and lives. By reducing the reconviction rate in prisons across the world would eventually empty them out. This vacancy then leads to less money spent on prisons allowing more money to be spent towards the safety and quality of life of the prisoners, hopefully resulting in such a way as Norway. Just like Indonesia and the Philippines, these methods are used to reduce criminality in a way that is polarly opposite from those countries, and is much more beneficial than executions. It is obvious that the system is working and that the world has something to learn from Norway and other Nordic European countries. Irrevocable mistakes unfortunately happen frequently all over the world in the judicial system. Mistakes occur both during capital trials and with the tools/machinery used to kill a person.
The risk of executing an innocent person, is one that can never be eliminated. In America alone, 69 people have been released from death row since 1973 because newly discovered evidence proved them innocent. In the United States and China, evidence of torture and unlawful police officers are the cause of imprisonment for many innocent people. Believable evidence of innocence is sometimes fabricated by a police officer during a crime scene investigation. Police also often use threats as a way to get a suspect to admit to a crime. In India, many times the prosecutor is not performing legally and in Japan, failure to reveal evidence of innocence is the cause of many faulty conviction. By law, everyone has the right to a fair trial in court but it is evident that, as of today’s judicial system, that is far from true. As long as these illegal mistakes continue to happen, capital punishment should be ended everywhere.
Money really does have an effect on the quality of service that plays into a court conviction. In poorly funded countries such as Malawi, these problems are even more possible. DNA testing has become one of the key components in proving a person’s innocence in today’s day and age. With Malawi’s low budget, DNA testing is not a readily available resource resulting in many faulty convictions. The police officers in Malawi are frequently poorly trained and the defence council is often not assigned to handle appeals right away, making it impossible for a defendant to propose any appeals.
The attorney quality is also inadequate considering they often meet with the defendant the day of the trial. All of these aspects of Malawi’s low budget judicial system means that not many people are ever set free from Malawi prisons. That doesn’t mean that everyone in prison is guilty for their crimes but their just simply enough resources provided to uncover evidence to prove a person innocent. In Japan, 78 year old Iwao Hakamada was released from the Tokyo Detention House after he had been sentenced to death over 45 years earlier. Hakamada was named the “world’s longest-serving death row inmate” after being on death row after being falsely convicted for a mass murder in 1966 later called the Hakamada Incident. Hakamada was sentenced to be hanged in 1968 after admitting to the crime.
Though Hakamada said that the confession was beaten out of him during an interrogation that lasted 20 days. There was also no attorney present during this interrogation. Every day Hakamada was on death row, he was unsure of whether it would be his. Psychiatric testing revealed took a large emotional and mental toll on him.
His sister visited him every month for 47 years and she even told the news that her brother “didn’t want to see anyone anymore” and he was “starting to lose his mind”.