Assessing the Death Penalty

I am definitely, deeply and pretty well irrevocably against the death penalty. I see the whole process as barbaric, often bungled, and completely unnecessary.

I expect you’ve heard the stories. Prisoners bursting into flames in the electric chair. Prisoners receiving a ‘lethal’ injection (“don’t worry…you won’t feel a thing…”) and then taking 30 agonised minutes to prove that it hadn’t worked, before getting injected again and dying.

The practice of botched ‘humane’ executions (an oxymoron if ever I saw one) is completely revolting. Frankly, I might be slightly less against the death penalty if it was by firing squad or something. But it isn’t.

It has often been argued that giving life imprisonment is a worse punishment. I don’t agree – I get the feeling that life in almost any conditions is better than death – but it is obvious that life imprisonment is a perfectly effective substitute to the death penalty. Perhaps not forgive and forget, but to take an eye for an eye, to use the old clich, simply brings society in general down to the level of the criminal.

And that I feel applies to all death penalties. Including that of Saddam Hussein. He may have been one of the most revolting men in history, but he was also great, and we are little better than him for killing him. He died with dignity, despite our best efforts, and for that I must admit I admire him.

It’s time for the US, and indeed the rest of the world, to follow Britain and many others’ examples – to ban the death penalty, for ever more.