Some Words on the Death Penalty

From a letter to the Jamaica (the island, not the site of JFK Airport) Gleaner News:

Americans love to think the drop is a benefit of the death penalty. We cannot agree, because we are a death-penalty-free country. (In Europe, this punishment is strictly forbidden and the majority of the world is abolitionist.)

Actually, Italy ended capital punishment in 1877 and had it again only under fascism. In those sad years, the homicide rate was five times bigger than we have now, and in the 20 years following the definitive end of the death penalty (1948-1968), the homicide rate dropped from five to 1.4.

Something like this happened in Canada in the years that followed the end of capital punishment in 1976. Curiously, in the same year, the Supreme Court gave the green light to the “new and improved” American death penalty, and with the shooting of Gary Gilmore (January 17, 1977), the hangman was back in business and the experiment began. Now, after more than 1,000 human sacrifices, we can say with Justice Blackmun: “The death penalty experiment has failed.”

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