In the US 32 of the 50 states use the death penalty. California has the most inmates on death row, with 733 inmates awaiting execution (as of 2013). Over half of those on death row, are non-white racial background.
Recently at our St Chrysostom’s Justice and Peace group we found out more about and discussed the death penalty. We welcomes Jennifer Devans, a local barrister, to talk to us. ‘The evening’ Fr Chris commented, ‘was very thought provoking, and informative’.
Jennifer told us that for those on death row, there is no attempt at rehabilitation, simply because their sentence is death (usually by lethal injection). According to information from Amnesty International, the death penalty does not work as a deterrent. The FBI information on the states without the death penalty showed that they had ‘homicide rates at or below the national average.’ Jennifer also told us about the conditions the inmates find themselves in and told us about the fact that some executions are badly handled.
We began to wonder whether the death penalty is not more a form of torture than a form of justice. This is underlined by the fact that those on Death row can spend years waiting for that final word to tell them that they are going to be executed.
Jennifer did encourage us with news that in the case of the USA, states are slowly abolishing the death penalty one state at a time.
The USA is not they only country that has the death penalty, other countries include China and Iran. Trying to bring an end to the death penalty is a big issue, especially because there are big and powerful countries that still use it.
And you may be thinking, well what can I do, if it is such a big issue?
And this is what I asked Jennifer. She suggested that you could become informed of the situation, become part of campaigns, such as those run by Amnesty International or other organisations. Sister Jean also suggested that one may want to write and become a penpal to someone on death row, in which case you can contact to organisations such as Life lines, For more information and things you can do visit Amnesty’s website.
Laura, Parish Assistant