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UNDERSTANDING THE DEATH PENALTY Updated May 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "UNDERSTANDING THE DEATH PENALTY Updated May 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 UNDERSTANDING THE DEATH PENALTY Updated May 2012

2 Presentation Overview A.Where the Death Penalty is Used B.The Impact of Murder C.Justifications for the Death Penalty D.The Case against the Death Penalty E.Yes, There is a Better Way! F.What You Can Do

3 A) WHERE THE DEATH PENALTY IS USED

4 The Death Penalty Worldwide Light blue = no DP in 10 yrs Brown = DP only for times of war Orange = DP for adult offenders Red = DP for adult and juvenile offenders Dark blue = abolitionist

5 Where Countries Stand Total abolitionist in law or practice: 140  for all crimes: 97  for ordinary crimes only: 8  in practice: 35 Retentionist: 58  Top five executors in 2011: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the USA

6 The Death Penalty in the US DP jurisdictions: 33 states, federal govt., military

7 US Executions and Death Sentences Source: Death Penalty Information Center

8 B) THE IMPACT OF MURDER

9 Murder’s Impact, Society’s Needs  About 17,000 are murdered/year in the US  Each murder violates the right to life  Murder is cruel and inhuman  Each murder damages many lives  Society has a duty to provide public safety  Perpetrators must be held accountable  Victims’ communities have a right to justice and support

10 C) JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THE DEATH PENALTY

11 What have you heard?  It’s justice: just deserts, “eye for an eye” (retribution)  It brings closure for the victim’s family  It’s less expensive than permanent imprisonment  It deters murder  It shows society’s disgust for the crime  It prevents offenders from murdering again  Some crimes require the “ultimate penalty”

12 D) THE CASE AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY

13 1) Human Rights Violated Twice Rather than upholding society’s highest values, the death penalty imitates the crime it condemns.  Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person  No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 3, 5) 2 wrongs don’t make 1 right!

14 2) Equal Justice before the Law?  Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.  All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.  Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 6, 7, 8)

15 2) Equal Justice? a) Socio-economic Bias  One of the most pivotal determinants of whether a defendant will receive the death penalty is the quality of their legal representation.  Almost all death row prisoners could not afford their own attorney.  Appointed attorneys are often overworked, underpaid, or lacking the trial experience required for death penalty cases.

16 2) Equal Justice? b) Racial Bias Source: Death Penalty Information Center Race of Defendants ExecutedRace of Victim in Death Penalty Cases

17 2) Equal Justice? c) Arbitrary Application  Only about 2% of known murderers are sentenced to death  Prosecutors (elected) have discretion in seeking a death sentence  Suburban, predominantly white and affluent jurisdictions tend to have prosecutors who are more eager (and better resourced) to seek the death penalty.  In Alabama, Florida and Delaware, elected judges can override a jury’s decision to sentence someone to life or death. Source: Death Penalty Information Center

18 3) System Failure a) Error-Riddled  70% of all death sentences are reversed due to serious error such as:  incompetent defense lawyers  police or prosecutorial misconduct  Capital trials produce so many mistakes that it takes three judicial inspections to catch them  Of the 2,370 death sentences thrown out due to serious error, 90% were overturned by state judges—many were the same ones who imposed the death sentence in the first place (Liebman Study – Columbia Univ.)

19 3) System Failure b) Wrongful Convictions 140 people have been released from death row due to evidence of their innocence since 1973 (including one in 2012). Source: Death Penalty Information Center

20 3) System Failure c) Deterrence Of the top US academic criminological society presidents, 88% reject the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder.

21 3) System Failure d) Millions Wasted The entire process for capital vs. non-capital cases is far more costly:  The average death penalty case costs $1.26 million vs. $740,000 (permanent incarceration)  Maryland: The average death penalty case costs approx. $3M ($1.9M more than non-death penalty case)  Florida: The death penalty costs $51M/yr beyond cost of permanent imprisonment.  California: The death penalty costs $137M/yr beyond cost of permanent imprisonment.  Kansas: costs of death penalty vs. non-death penalty cases: investigation - 3x more; trial - 16x more; appeals - 21x more Source: Death Penalty Information Center

22 E) YES, THERE IS A BETTER WAY!

23 1) Refuting the Justifications IIt’s less expensive than permanent imprisonment IIt deters murder

24 2) Alternative Perspectives  It prevents offenders from murdering again  It shows society’s disgust for the crime  Some crimes require the “ultimate penalty”  It’s justice – just deserts, “eye for an eye” (retribution)  It brings closure for the victim’s family

25 3) Preventing Murder How would you spend tens of millions of $/year ? Prevention policy: violence, drug/alcohol abuse, treatment for the mentally ill Public Safety: resources for community policing and other social services

26 2) What needs are created by murder? Victims/loved ones:  psychological services (anger, grief, depression)  financial support (possible loss to family income)  information about the crime/perpetrator  accountability of the offender  sense of concrete pro-active steps (safety, prevention)  restoration of control/power Offenders:  opportunity for accountability, remorse, restitution, rehabilitation Community:  protection from the offender  sense of safety and justice  education

27 F) WHAT YOU CAN DO

28 How will we achieve abolition? Chip away at the block! Get involved with your state’s policy campaigns Public Education: provide info and engage dialogue Write /organize on AI Urgent Actions Action for Abolition Leaflet, table, set up a display, organize a panel discussion, host a speaker, present to a class/civic/ religious group, wear abolition button/shirt, etc.

29 Join Us Today!  Become a member  Join a local or student group  Become an on-line activist  Become a volunteer leader AMNESTY Your Regional Office: A REGION

30 THANK YOU! For more information or to provide feedback: or call Sources:  Various Amnesty International reports  The Death Penalty Information Center:  US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Crime in the United States".  “A Broken System: Error Rates in Capital Cases, ” by Dr. James Liebman (Columbia University)

31  Note to presenters: be sure to catch the notes connected with many of the slides. Adjust your view of PowerPoint to see the notes. You can also print yourself a copy of the slides with the notes pages under each slide.


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