UN tackles the Death Penalty

By Katherine Voukidis for The Hindustan Times

Over 1900 people were killed in 2012 by their nation state. Globally, over 80 nations continue to sentence offenders to death.

Amnesty International reports that support for the abolition of capital punishment is increasing. However cultural, social and economic barriers, as specific to nation states, continue to limit the capacity for international law to eliminate the use of the death penalty.

Socially, capital punishment places a significant emotional strain on the individual offender, their close friends and family, and those involved in the execution process. The suspended nature of many convictions adds to this turmoil. In the United States, it takes and average of 1,902 days to progress from charging, to sentencing a person.

Those in favour fail to prove how the death penalty acts as the ultimate deterrent for horrific crimes. Instead, numerous cases arise where individual are wrongfully accused of, and sentenced to death row.

Despite this, cultural norms and social concerns lead many to support the use of capital punishment. This tends to occur in states where crimes are considered to significantly impair the operation of society. However it could be argued this is a form of retribution, or revenge, as opposed to achieving justice.

Economically, in states such as the US, it has been recognised that the lengthy process of sentencing someone to death places a significant economic strain on taxpayer funds. In 2012 US Judge Arthur Alarcon and Professor Paula Mitchell found that discontinuing the death penalty in California would result in immediate savings of US$170 million per year, or over US$5 billion within 20 years.

The effectiveness of capital punishment continues to divide the international community, with struggles to apply global attitudes to domestic concerns. Despite its continued use worldwide, it is gradually being agreed that the death penalty is an excessively inhumane punishment, which lacks social, cultural or economic benefit.


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