On the death penalty

By Matthieu Ricard on July 16, 2009

In December 2006, Florida governor Jeb Bush temporarily stayed executions because it took twenty minutes for a death row inmate to succumb to a lethal injection that was supposed to kill him in four. He stated that he had acted out of humanity.

I see no humanity in taking four minutes to kill someone instead of twenty. We cannot pretend to uphold justice when we kill someone.
Ghandi said: ‟An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Punishing death with death is an act of vengeance. It is not necessary to kill someone to prevent them from causing further harm. Imprisonment is sufficient. The State simply claims for itself the right to take life as payment.
A few years ago, I heard an Oklahoma bombing victim's father on the BBC. He said: «I don't need one more death». By putting a killer to death, we do not make justice triumph nor do we show respect for the victims and their families. We are only adding to the body count. In depth psychological studies have shown that parents' grief and mourning found deeper and longer lasting appeasement in forgiveness than in the satisfaction of attending a criminal's execution.

Comparative studies conducted in states that apply the death penalty and those who have renounced it systematically demonstrate the absence of any true deterrent effect of capital punishment on crime rates
The death penalty is nothing more than the talion law draped in Justice's robes. As Arianna Ballotta, President of the Italian Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said : ‟As a society, we cannot kill to show that killing is wrong.”

According to Amnesty International, the five countries with the highest number of executions in 2008 were China (at least 1,718, probably many more), Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United States of America. These five countries are responsible for 93% of all executions carried out in 2008. They provide the greatest challenge to completely abolishing the death penalty.