In the US, 16 out of 50 States had no death penalty until the beginning of this week. They are 17 now as Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has confirmed he will sign the bill to repeal the state’s death penalty which was approved by the Parliament in Hartford after more than nine hours of debate last Wednesday.
In its history and until 2005, Connecticut performed 126 executions, first by hanging, then by the electric chair, and since 1973, by lethal injection. But since 1976, there has been just one person executed in the state. The abolition is definitely a good news. However, one can not help being at least puzzled when reading the declarations of the Governor: “(…) we will have a system” he said “that allows us to put these people away for life, in living conditions none of us would want to experience. Let’s throw away the key and have them spend the rest of their natural lives in jail.” This shows that even abandoning the death penalty, the ideal of justice as a “vendetta” is unfortunately not changing. This might be understandable for those people who had their lives destroyed by a violent crime against themselves, their families or friends, but it is absolutely not admissable for an advanced society organised in a civil way.
In any case punishment and the fear of punishment alone do not prevent and fight crime. As a matter of fact, a democratic society like the US have a very high murder rate (6 times higher than Germany, 4 times higher than Spain and France and 3 times higher than Canada and Belgium) and at the same time the world highest percentage of its population in prison (0,72% – Iran has 3 times less, Spain and Portugal 4 times less, Germany and Italy 7 times less and Finland and Vietnam 10 times less). Some say statistics can be misleading, still I think they can provide food for thought.
number of prisoners in the death row in the US (1950-2010)
For statistics check: http://www.nationmaster.com