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Death Penalty

Je persisterai à la demander [l’abolition de la peine de mort] tant qu’on ne m’aura pas prouvé l’infaillibilité des jugemens humains

Until the infallibility of human judgment shall have been proved to me, I shall persist in demanding the abolition of the death penalty

—Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, 17 August 1830, from Charles Lucas, Recueil des Débats des Assemblées Législatives de la France sur la Question de la Peine de Mort, part 2, at 42 (Paris, 1831)

No system, given human nature and frailties, could ever be devised or constructed that would work perfectly and guarantee absolutely that no innocent person is ever again sentenced to death.

—report of Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment, April 2002

In reality the death penalty is reserved for people who do not have enough money to defend themselves.

—Paul Simon, former US Senator from Illinois, co-chair of Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment, April 2002

A bold and brave act by the outgoing governor of Illinois, commuting all death sentences in the state:

The US is in bad company:

The argument for abolition:

What the Bible says:

  •   crimes punishable by death
  •   methods of execution
  •   standard of evidence
  •   words of Jesus of Nazareth

The death penalty is way more expensive than the alternatives:

World atlas of the death penalty and rates of incarceration:

  • death penalty worldwide: abolitionist and retentionist countries (maps | list)
  • death penalty in USA: (maps | tables)
  • rates of incarceration worldwide — the USA is #1 :(maps | tables)

International human rights treaties:

Recommended reading:

  • Mark Costanzo, Just Revenge: Costs and Consequences of the Death Penalty (New York: St. Martin’s, 1997)


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