Will the death penalty ever go extinct?

For a while in the 2000s it seemed like the death penalty was on a slow but set track towards extinction globally, but now with the renewed fervor for it in India and the unrest in the Middle East it seems like its demise is not-so-imminent.

The recent botched execution in Oklahoma did nothing to change America’s sentiment on the death penalty and it seems like we will be returning to more gruesome methods due to European countries refusing to ship the chemicals over here.

I think abolition of the death penalty is sort of the “last frontier” of human rights if you will. Criminals are the only people it’s still acceptable to hate, and capital punishment appeals to the rights’ authoritarian sensibilities as well as to the left’s sensitivity towards victims’ feelings. However with that said, I think the existence of a death penalty actually hardens people’s hearts and makes the society crueler and more self-centered, though I admit I don’t have any proof of this.

Personally, I don’t think so. I think public opinion on this issue is cyclic. A certain amount of crime is always going to exist. And people are going to be asking that something be done about it. So if you have a situation where capital punishment isn’t currently being used, that creates the environment for people calling for it to be reinstated.

For the death penalty to be abolished globally is unimaginable to me. It would take a world that is so different than the one we live in, and also all parts of that world would have to be similar to each other in key ways. There are still countries where people are stoned to death for adultery, so yeah. We’re nowhere near there. I could *imagine *it being eradicated in the U.S., although we aren’t very close to that either, but worldwide, no, none of us will ever see that. The world is a big place.

This only seems like a question from a USA perspective, the rest of the civilised world has seen the light already.

Consider the following (wiki-P but no reason to doubt it)

Which countries do you see on there that stand out. i.e. which are surprising by their appearance? Surely the USA and Japan do not truly want to keep that company? Two first world civilised countries that stand alone in their commitment to the state-sanctioned killing of their citizens…shameful.

I think it is only a matter of time before the death penalty is removed as an option from both USA and Japan. It’ll come.

What do you have to do to be the one guy out of 1.2 billion Indians to get executed?

But as to the OP, I think it’ll continue to decrease. While there’s still a majority in favour, public opinion has been trending against it in the US for two decades, with a mixture of decreasing crime rates and prominent cases where death-row inmates were exonerated likely driving the trend. And as the article points out, it’s already pretty rare overseas.

I imagine as long as there are authoritarian gov’t there will still be a few places where its legal. Imprisoning murderers for life works pretty well, since no one really wants them released and there’s pretty limited opportunities to murder from jail. But political prisoners can smuggle writings out, or end up getting sprung by outside supporters (or just waiting out the oppressive regime, like Mandela).

Do you figure we’ll still keep it for the occasional Tsarnaev?

Well, the optimist in me hopes terror bombings themselves end up being something of a fad. As a rational strategy for achieving a political goal, they’ve proven pretty unsuccessful. As a way for crazy people to get attention, they work pretty well, but there are other ways to achieve the same end, and they seem to come-and-go in fads. Hopefully in a decade or so crazies will go back to setting themselves on fire, or shooting politicians or something dramatic but with less of a death-toll.

But even assuming such travesties continue, I don’t think there’d necessarily be an exception for them. So far as I know most countries where the death penalty is banned don’t have such an exception. And even now, we have people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zacarias Moussaoui who were responsible for terrorist bombings and who are unlikely to ever be executed. There doesn’t seem to be any general outrage over that state of affairs.

There’s little point, such crimes aren’t very rational and won’t be deterred; if anything executing politically/religiously motivated people creates martyrs.

One of the many flaws of the death penalty is that even when the targets are actually guilty, it’s almost exclusively applied to exactly the sort of people who won’t be deterred by it.

In fairness, as per wiki (a) Moussaoui’s jury voted 11-1 in favor of execution, and (b) Mohammed is still awaiting prosecution. So I’m not sure that’s strong evidence.

Who said anything about deterrence?

It’s one of the standard justifications for the death penalty. It sounds more reasonable than “We just want to kill someone”, after all

I remember learning in college that the two biggest factors in a potential punishment being an effective deterrent to crime are the perceived likelihood of it taking place at all, and the belief that it would take place sooner rather than later. (Severity of punishment is NOT one of the main factors, but good luck ever convincing the general public of that.) Obviously, the death penalty fails on both of those points. It’s applied unpredictably (while still managing to be discriminatory) and it doesn’t happen for years or decades after the crime. Punishments that are less harsh, but swift and predictable, would be more effective. Giving potential criminals reason to believe it’s all just a total crapshoot is definitely not helpful.

Fair enough. I’m just a fan of incapacitation, is all.

Sure, but I’m not saying the US public has any problem with them being killed (I doubt most people would mind if they were executed), I’m saying that the public doesn’t seem to have any problem with the fact that they won’t be killed*. So given that even a pro-death penalty public seems to accept some of the “worst-of-the-worst” types don’t get executed, I don’t think a putative future, anti-death penalty public will feel the need to make exceptions for similar figures.
*(I guess one could argue that Mohammad could still be executed someday, in the far future. But given what a farce his trial has been, I think its pretty clear the gov’t isn’t going to want the extra scrutiny that’s likely to be applied by the appeals a death-penalty would bring (Holder seems pretty wishy-washy on such a penalty even being legal in a military court), and that if they did, the appeals process would draw out longer then the natural lives of anyone involved.)

Implying that approximately two-thirds of the world’s population are “uncivilized”.

That seems about right.

Why should it?

And it’s not in place as a deterrent. It’s in place as a justified punishment. Some people don’t deserve to continue to be a part of society.

:rolleyes: How long did the “civilised” UK keep the Birmingham Six locked up again? Or the Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven, Judith Ward etc etc.

:confused: you are making my argument for me because I’m sure we didn’t execute any of those people.

Miscarriages of justice are going to happen because no justice system is perfect. The very least we can hope for is that they are reversible. Rather pointless to release a corpse.

Well it seems like only 20% of the world’s countries have the death penalty as an option and have been willing to use it in the last 10 years.

So 80% at least are avoiding it. That’s a good sign in my book.

And yes, a country that kills it’s own citizens cannot be seen as fully civilised. That’s my view and I’m happy to stand by it.

But you’re missing the historical perspective. Capital punishment was abolished in the United States in 1972. Japan unofficially abolished the death penalty in 1989. It wasn’t abolished in much of Europe until the nineties. So arguably the United States and Japan were ahead of Europe in ending capital punishment.

And perhaps they were just ahead of Europe in reinstating it as well. Instead of assuming the future will have America and Japan joining Europe in once again ending capital punishment, perhaps we’ll see Europe following America and Japan in bringing it back.