Why Can’t the US Follow Europe’s Lead in Abolishing the Death Penalty?

The evidence, and public opinion, suggests the US should follow Europe’s lead and abolish the death penalty. Bianca Jagger recently delivered a speech at the Fourth Congress Against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Switzerland and raised a number of key points.

In 1982 the Council of Europe abolished the use of the death penalty, and since then, remains the only region of the world where the death penalty is no longer used. Europe made even more progress in 2002, when the Council adopted Protocol 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is a complete abolition of the death penalty, even in times of war. Following the European lead, the UN has issued a morartorium on the use of the death penalty. 

Jagger is now calling for the US to follow Europe’s lead and abolish the use of the death penalty. Two states, New Mexico, and New Jersey, recently abandoned the practice on financial grounds. New Jersey estimates it will save over $1.3 million per inmate over their lifetime by abolishing the process. 

One glaring problem with the death penalty is the execution process. Doctors cannot administer lethal injections because of their adherence to the Hippocratic oath, which leaves prison officials to handle the matter. Disturbingly, of the roughly 500 executions that have taken place since 1982, 42 have been mishandled by prison officials. Specifically, inmates appear to be in pain, and some executions have taken more then 30 minutes to complete.

The execution of innocent individuals has occurred at an alarming rate. By itself, this should be enough justification for the complete abolition. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1973, 139 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. One person wrongfully executed should be enough to stop the system. 139 people wrongfully executed is 139 too many, and indicates there is something undeniably wrong with the process.

Judges have spoken out about the apparent arbitrary application of the death penalty. Judge Boyce Martin Jr., said "[T]he dysfunctional patchwork of stays and executions going on in this country… In some instances stays are granted, while in others they are not and the defendants are executed, with no principled distinction to justify such a result." 

Jagger also refuted the argument the death penalty acts as a deterrent. The US has a much higher homicide rate than other countries that have abolished the practice. It should be noted, however, that the US makes it much easier for individuals to purchase guns then many other countries. Even taking that into account, the high homicide rate provides support for the argument the death penalty should be abolished.

The system has failed on many different levels, so why does it still exist?

The Time Has Come to Say No to Death | Huffington Post



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