American Support for the Death Penalty is, well, Dying

crime.jpg Unless you live in Texas

deathpen.jpg

(click to enlarge)

While most states still have a death penalty statute on the books, fewer and fewer inmates on death row are actually being executed (except in Texas). Since 2000, 12 states have suspended the death penalty and some are moving to abolish it altogether. In 2006 fully 2/3 of states executed no one.

California, with 663, has by far the most convicts awaiting execution though they have only actually executed 13 since 1976. Texas, on the other hand, kills theirs by the truck load thus avoiding those pesky prison overcrowding problems.

Recent polls have shown a small majority of Americans support life in prison as the ultimate sentence instead of death. Do Americans believe that death is no longer (if it ever was) a deterrent to crime? Even with the growing economic crunch, are they more willing to support these inmates for the rest of their lives with their tax dollars? Are Americans becoming more humanitarian or are the wimping out?

I don’t have the answers to those questions but I can say this. Here in Singapore most people feel that the argument against death as a deterrent is a no brainer. They believe, as I do, that the strict laws and capital punishment statutes are the primary reasons why Singapore is one of the safest places on earth. Well, that and the fact that there are no guns here unlike in the US where there are 9 guns for every 10 people for a total of 270 million civilian owned guns. Not a problem though, right NRA?

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3 Comments on “American Support for the Death Penalty is, well, Dying”

  1. Capt Fogg Says:

    A deterrent is a deterrent only if the deterred thinks he will get caught. It only takes a drive through a small town in Central Florida or a rough neighborhood in Fort Pierce or Riviera Beach to see that there are people who will not make a calm calculation about whether to shoot the guy who just burned him in a dope deal or who is sober enough to decide not to shoot the guy his girl was sleeping with. The kid who joins a gang and has to make his bones, isn’t deterred because there’s a good chance he will get away with it.

    I don’t know Singapore, but I don’t envision vast tracts of dilapidated trailer parks or slums or hordes of homeless vagabonds and sociopaths and gang members left to their own devices by a government unwilling to spend money.

    The pervasiveness of guns isn’t something that can, I think, be changed by banning them any more than drugs go away by banning them. This is a huge country and is not governable the way a city-state can be.

    The disaffection with killing people for their crimes has as much to do with the politicized, often incompetent and prejudiced nature of our justice system. Day after day, we have people released after decades of false imprisonment and even if one or two percent of the executed are guilty (and I think the truth is worse than that) it’s still murder.

    Other countries without death penalties have vastly lower murder rates.

  2. Kathy Says:

    I personally believe serving a life sentence is worse than being executed. (I’m against the death penalty.) It takes that person’s freedom away and forces them to remember every single day why they’re sitting in prison. Executing a criminal might save tax dollars, but it shortens the criminal’s punishment. Timothy McVeigh didn’t fear death, he welcomed it.

  3. expatbrian Says:

    All good points and you are right Cap, it is a completely different animal in a small city state than a huge country like the US. You are also right that banning guns and drugs won’t eliminate them. Frankly, when it comes to crime, I think the US is a lost cause and its going to get worse. The growing gap between the haves and have nots is getting a lot of press right now and it pisses people off. I look for labor riots down the road.

    Kathy, I don’t like the idea of the state deciding life or death either, but I care more about my own personal safety and that of my loved ones than I do about those on death row. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to walk anywhere at any time and not have to be afraid or even cautious.

    Indeed, Singapore does not have slums and rows of broken down trailers. There are poor here and not just the elderly. But beyond the ban on guns and drugs there is another huge difference that helps make Singapore safe. The people here have HONOR. It is still an important trait here and I think it is sadly lacking in America.


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