Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the act, committed by government, of putting to death a prisoner. It is a violation of multiple human rights, the most notable being the right to life and the right to protection from torture. It is staunchly supported by most conservatives. Some have sense and oppose it (even Bill'O!). Nearly all liberals oppose it, because liberals have common sense.
Since 1973, 130 people have been exonerated from death row. Exonerations are not commutations, and are given solely upon the basis of distinct evidence of innocence. 1,136 executions have taken place in the United States since the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976, which means that there is an average of one exoneration for every eight executions. Proponents dispute the 130 exonerations, but this is pretty quickly refuted. The 130 exonerees are not in prison. If they had not been exonerated they would have been. Duh.
A Northwestern University study has shown that 39 people have been executed in the United States in the face of extreme doubt about their guilt. The late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun put it pretty well when he said, "The execution of a person who can show his innocence comes perilously close to simple murder."
Leonel Herrera was one of those excuted despite very grave doubt about his guilt, this video shows what was wrong.
Proponents claim that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to would-be criminals and therefore saves innocent lives. This is obviously a stupid claim, as many murderers are mentally ill, and as such would not consider the consequences of their actions, whilst others commit their crimes in the heat of the moment, so-called crimes of passion, when they are obviously not thinking about the outcome. What a dumb claim. Many murderers commit suicide afterwards. Now will the death penalty deter people who are suicidal, really?
But it's not only dumb, it's factually incorrect. States with the death penalty have on average murder rates 42% higher than states without the death penalty. So it may increase the murder rate, however correlation doesn't imply causation. Therer is clearly no evidence that the death penalty reduces murder.
As noted above, the death penalty violates the right to life and the right to protection from torture. However, many other people are harmed through the application of the death penalty, not just the condemned. The condemned's family are just as innocent as the victim's family, but they have to suffer the death of their loved one. This is an unnecessary death, and unnecessary pain, inflicted by the government. Makes you wonder, no?
The death penalty does not only kill and torture innocent people, double murder rates, and violate human rights, it also wastes taxpayer money.
In Florida, for instance, it costs approximately $24 million per execution. Heck, in California, it costs $250 million per execution. Whilst proponents like to claim that this is because of the constitutionally-enshrined rights to due process and appeals, most of the cost is actually pre-conviction, so that just isn't a valid claim.
The public have been brainwashed in the United States. They believe that the death penalty is applied fairly, occasionally, humanely, that it doesn't put innocents at risk, that it decreases the murder rate, and that it saves money. Obviously there is no humane way to put someone to death, because it simply isn't humane to take away someone's life. The actual process itself is by no means physically harmless, Amnesty International claims that Lethal Injections in the United States can cause physical torture. There is further mental torture waiting sometimes decades on death row to be killed.
One day the public will realize that the death penalty is evil.
Moratorium in the 70sEdit
Back in the day, the Supreme Court had some cool justices on it, like Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan, William O. Douglas, Harry Blackmun, etc.
In 1972, in the case Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme dudes voted 5-4 to put a moratorium on the death penalty, declaring it unconstitutional. In 1976, there were a majority of neocons on the court, and the previous ruling was ignored, when in Gregg v. Georgia (yes, Georgia likes the death penalty and so does the rest of the Bible Belt), it was reintroduced. Since then it's been completely stupid. Like it was before.
Here's what Justice Marshall had to say:
When in Gregg v. Georgia the Supreme Court gave its seal of approval to capital punishment, this endorsement was premised on the promise that capital punishment would be administered with fairness and justice. Instead, the promise has become a cruel and empty mockery. If not remedied, the scandalous state of our present system of capital punishment will cast a pall of shame over our society for years to come. We cannot let it continue.
Texas executes more people than all other states combined. During George W. Bush's six years as Governor of Texas, the state executed more people than had any state under any Governor at any point in history. Weak.
George W. Bush and the death penaltyEdit
Dubya damn well knew the difference between people of color and white folks when he led Texas to its dubious distinction as the state with the most executions of prison inmates. The following exchange was witnessed by a tour group at the Governor's Mansion and has been recounted by multiple sources, including Lucius Lomas of The Texas Observer. John M. Swamley, a professor of social ethics at St. Paul School of Theology and a writer for The Humanist, is the source of this version : An aide abruptly appeared with papers he held out to then-Governor Dubya. "It's the death warrants to sign, Governor. There are two executions scheduled for tonight." Absent-mindedly, the Governor took the offered pen. But in mid-signature he lifted his hand. He looked hard at his aide. "They're not white are they?" The aide flashed a nervous smile. "Governor, would we do that to you?" he asked. "It's not a woman either, is it? I'm not executing any more damn women. That last one—I was getting telegrams from as far away as Bolivia," Bush complained. "What the damn Bolivians or anyone else in Europe know about law and order in Texas I can't imagine." The aide reassured him, "Both prisoners are male, Governor. One's black and one's Hispanic. Nothing out of the ordinary." Pacified, Bush nodded. "That's okay then," he said. In an instant the aide retrieved the signed warrants and was gone. 
It appears Bush wasn't interested in the alleged crimes of the people to be executed, the strength or weakness of the evidence, in any possible extenuating circumstances, only in whether the victims were white or non-white, male or female. And that man became President of the United States.
Racism and the death penaltyEdit
Founding Fathers' thoughtsEdit
I shall ask for the abolition of the punishment of death until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me.
I should not regret a fair and full trial of the entire abolition of capital punishment.
If your IQ's below 70 you live, if your IQ's 72 you die.Edit
Teresa Lewis was killed by lethal injection despite having an IQ of only 72 by one test and a different psychologist assessed her lower at IQ 70. The more intelligent men who helped her were not executed. If she'd done the IQ tests on a different day or done different tests her IQ might have been lower.   
One area of law more than any other besmirches the constitutional vision of human dignity… The barbaric death penalty violates our Constitution. Even the most vile murderer does not release the state from its obligation to respect dignity, for the state does not honor the victim by emulating his murderer. Capital punishment’s fatal flaw is that it treats people as objects to be toyed with and discarded… One day the Court will outlaw the death penalty.
The most popular method of execution in the United States currently is the lethal injection which can become physical torture if anyone messes it up. Why don't they check the blood of executed prisoners in time if there is nothing to hide?  Incidentally this unfortunate man who was tortured to death was probably inocent of the murder they killed him over. 
Prisoners suffering the lethal injection are paralysed and therefore can’t indicate if they are in pain. The procedure looks clean and painless but only the victims know what really happens and they can’t tell us.
Foreign drug companies have been supplying drugs to the United States that are used in lethal injections, the UK Government is considering an export ban on drugs used to kill people.   These drugs are due to be used before the end of January 2011.  Will the UK Government have the strength and determination to stand up to the United States in this matter? Time will tell.
People who oppose itEdit
- Michael Dukakis
- John Kerry
- Jeremy Irons
- Mike Farrell (from M*A*S*H)
- Caroline Kennedy
- Noam Chomsky
- Evo Morales
- Ron Paul
- Hugo Chavez
- Michael Moore
- Gordon Brown (most likely)
- Dalai Lama
- The Pope (strongly against it)
- Robert F. Kennedy (well, he was seriously considering supporting an abolition bill in 1968, when he was a Senator from New York State)
- Eric Holder
- Cherie Blair wife of Tony Blair
- Michael Bloomberg
- Russ Feingold
- Jill Stein
- Mario Cuomo
- Andrew Cuomo
- Martin O'Malley