Sages of the New Covenant
"We can do good to those who hurt us. We can refuse to exchange evil for evil but instead exchange good for evil. The death penalty expresses anger, coldly and cruelly. It teaches murder. We must unteach murder to be safe from murderers."
- Rev. Donna Schaper, Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ
“Indeed, capital punishment is ‘a privilege of the poor."
- Clinton Duffy, Former Warden, California's San Quentin Prison
“Capital sentence perhaps has a class bias and color bar,”
- Justice Krishna Iyer (Rajendra Prasad, 1979)
“Capital punishment “has a certain class complexion or class bias inasmuch as it is largely the poor and the downtrodden who are the victims of this extreme penalty.”
- Justice Bhagwati ( Bachan Singh, 1982)
Minorities: (Linguistic & Religious):
Minorities are death-sentenced disproportionate to their numbers in the population. This is not primarily because minorities commit more murders, but because they are more often sentenced to death when they do.
Armogam Munnaswami Kounder (a native of Thirupaththur in Thamizh Nadu) was a sweeper and rag-picker and slept on footpaths at the time of crime. He was unfamiliar with Hindi, Marathi and English languages. The Supreme Court, admitting the appeal of the State of Maharashtra in 2013, after the acquittal of Armogam Munnaswami Kounder, who had been convicted for the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl in Andheri in 1995, by the Bombay High Court's judgment on 2006, based on the suicide note (accusing the then Assistant Commissioner of Police Nandakumar Chougule of pressurizing him to register false cases against innocent people, including Kounder) of Inspector Abdul Iqbal Bargir on January 25, 2001, is an evidence to show that the economically marginalized and the linguistic minority (whom the people of Maharashtra call 'Madarasie') status do have an effect in the trail though Kounder had already spent 11 years in Pune's Yerawada jail.
Arrest of nine Muslim boys as accused in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts is an example how religious minority status affect a death penalty trial, though the actual perpetrator of the crime leads to the Right wing Hindu terror group connected with Swami Aseemanand. Similarly, the arrest of thirteen boys, members of SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India) for the seven train blasts that took place within a space of half an hour in 2006, in Mumbai, on the 11th of July could be construed that members of minority religious groups have more chances of getting convicted. In this case, the police claimed the telephone conversation records that they got from the telephone service providers as evidence for the offence, though most of accused claimed that they were not in Church Gate at the time of the blast – several were in North Mumbai and one was in Bihar. The telephone records would have confirmed the record of the telephone tower locations. Police had not filed those with the charge sheet. Six years of repeated requested made by the defense lawyer was just rejected and when the High Court directed the relevance of this telephone call records to the police, the police gave a reply that the call records were destroyed. Given the fact that the Police claim that some of the accused were still to be apprehended; could they have possibly destroyed these records? Unless of course they showed that the boys that were actually apprehended were innocent, as these boys claimed.
As Indian society is compartmentalized based on caste, where few are called outcastes, I am sure more than the religion, caste status would definitely affect a death penalty trial.
Poor people are also far more likely to be death sentenced than those who can afford the high costs of private investigators, psychiatrists, and expert criminal lawyers. In the US, 95% of people get sentenced to death simply because they cannot afford proper legal representation at their trials. Unable to pay for an attorney, these prisoners are forced to rely on court-appointed lawyers. The average US state appropriates less than .01 percent of their budget for the defense of the indigent. In many jurisdictions across America, burned out attorneys, tired of the heavy caseloads, low salaries and poor working conditions of indigent defense often quit the public sector.
In Middle Eastern countries, death row defendants can be pardoned by the victims' family if they pay “blood money”. Those defendants who can pay this tariff are released, but those without money are usually executed. Recently, in Iran, a lawyer stated:
"By collecting 200 million tomans ($200,000), you can save the lives of three to four youngsters."
Almost all economically marginalized people accused of death-eligible crimes are impoverished and must rely on court-appointed (Legal Aid) lawyers to defend them at trial. Minority defendants may be represented by lawyers who are not only incompetent but also openly bigoted. At a minimum, a lack of cultural sensitivity to other ethnic groups may affect their ability to prepare adequately for the case.
"In 82% of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e., those who murdered whites were found more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks."
- United States General Accounting Office, Death Penalty Sentencing, February 1990
"A defendant accused of murdering a white victim is more than 3 times as likely to face the death penalty as a defendant accused of the murder of a person of color."
- David Baldus
Furthermore, study after study has found serious racial disparities in the charging, sentencing and imposition of the death penalty. People who kill whites are far more likely to receive a death sentence than those whose victims were not white, and blacks who kill whites have the greatest chance of receiving a death sentence.
Racial and ethnic disparities mar the American criminal justice system. The ethnicity and race of a defendant is a major factor in determining who lives and who dies in criminal cases. Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease. The one such case is the following:
Kenny Gay, born in Swindon, was convicted along with another man – also sentenced to death - for killing a police officer in Los Angeles. New evidence that Kenny did not fire the gunshots that killed the officer, along with issues of ineffective counsel and conflict of interest, seriously undermined Kenny's conviction and death sentence. Because Kenny is black and the police officer white, Kenny probably never stood a chance of fair treatment in the courts.
The execution of those with mental illness is clearly prohibited by international law. Virtually every country in the world except the U.S. and China prohibits the execution of people with mental illness. The U.N. safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, adopted by the U.N. Economic and Social Council resolution of May 25, 1984, states: ". . . nor shall the death sentence be carried out . . . on persons who have become insane."
Despite being in clear violation of international law, the execution of mentally ill prisoners is alarmingly common. Most of the death row convicts have a serious health problem, including severe depression, bi-polar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The mental anguish that comes from years of waiting to see if you will live or die, often in solitary confinement for up 23 hours a day, only serves to exacerbate these disorders.
Lawyers who are involved in identifying the Depression Level / PTSD, they could administer simple tests, which might support their case in getting a Stay of execution. Download the test and use it on the convicts.
In addition there are online test also. One among them is: '"M3". Knowing the M3, can help the prisoners to take control of their mental health. Those who are working to rescue the prisoners from death row can administer with three minutes online test free of cost. To get access to this confidential teston-line, just click on the following link:
Akmal Shaikh is British and bipolar. He wanted to celebrate world peace with a song on rabbits. Please listen to his song and his story. On December 29th, 2009, Akmal was executed. Pay tribute to his memory and disseminate this song as widely as you can or create your own. Let's make Akmal's song become the hit Akmal was hoping for, by sharing the linkin your Facebook, Twiter and Tumblr. The following is the URL:
People who are mentally retarded are frequently sentenced to death. These defendants can be easily influenced or intimidated by the police or prosecutor, anxious to please by saying what they believe the authority wants to hear and sometimes even giving a false confession. Mentally retarded defendants are not supposed to face the death penalty. However, many prosecutors dispute the fact that a defendant meets the criteria for mental retardation and should still face the option of being put to death.
Ryan Matthews, sentenced to death at age 18, but later exonerated by DNA evidence. He had an IQ of 71.
In violation of international treaties, juvenile prisoners in some countries are executed for petty crimes committed at an age as young as 13. Today, 21 juveniles wait on death row in Iran with a further 100 awaiting execution for crimes committed before the age of 18. They usually don’t have money. They die.
Recently in India, the people of India, particularly the women of Delhi, became ‘blood thirsty’ after the rape-death of a para-medical student in a moving bus. They wanted the age of juveniles to lowered, so that one of the accused does not miss death-penalty on ground of his juvenility.
More than two thirds of the world's countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, including Russia, South Africa, all of Western and most of Eastern Europe, except Belarus. Abolition of the death penalty is a requirement for admission to the European Union.
Among the 93 countries that retain the death penalty in law, only 48 have executed anyone within the past 10 years — only a quarter of all nations. The remaining 45 are classified by the UN as being abolitionist de facto, not having executed anyone for at least 10 years. Of these, 35 of them as truly ‘abolitionist in practice’, having a settled policy not to carry out executions. Thus, when these 35 are added to the countries that are abolitionist in law, 71 per cent (138) of states no longer inflict or intend to inflict the ultimate penalty.
Only five nations which abolished capital punishment since 1961, reintroduced it: Nepal (1985), the Philippines (1987), Gambia (1991), Papua New Guinea (1995), and Liberia (2008) Liberia is abolitionist in practice and Nepal once again abolished death penalty. Only one of the other four — the Philippines — resumed executions.
Since 2005, the United States has been among the “leading” nations in number of executions carried out. Also on this list are: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan.
At the UN General Assembly in December 2008, 106 countries voted in favor of a resolution calling for a world-wide moratorium on death sentences and executions, with only 46 countries voting against it. The largest group among the opposition comprised countries with a majority Muslim population, followed by few countries like India and Pakistan of the British Commonwealth, China, Japan, North Korea, Mongolia, Thailand Zimbabwe and the US.
Among the SAARC nations, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan is retaining death penalty. In India — with the second largest population in the world, and thus a useful comparison with China — death penalty is in principle to be imposed in only the ‘rarest of rare’ cases.
INCAPACITATION. Convicted murderers can be sentenced to life imprisonment, as they are in many countries and states that have abolished the death penalty. Most state laws allow life sentences for murder that severely limit or eliminate the possibility of parole. Today, 37 states allow juries to sentence defendants to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty.
Several recent studies of public attitudes about crime and punishment found that a majority of Americans support alternatives to capital punishment: When people were presented with the facts about several crimes for which death was a possible punishment, a majority chose life imprisonment without parole as an appropriate alternative to the death penalty.
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Sages of the New Covenant