It’s time to abolish the death penalty

Five countries are responsible for over 90 percent of executions in the world, according to the Anti-Death Penalty Information organization. Joining the U.S. are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

We are on a list with the very countries we protest against because of their human rights abuses.

In 2007, the United Nations called for a worldwide suspension of the death penalty. Of the member nations, 104 voted in favor of the moratorium, while 54 voted against and 24 abstained from the vote.

Illinois is one of 35 states that allows the death penalty, although it has a moratorium on the practice because innocent people were being killed. In 2009, 11 states considered abolishing the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. We join anti-death penalty advocates in calling for an end to this barbaric practice.

In 2009, nine men were exonerated from death row in the United States, and 139 have been freed since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated after a Supreme Court national moratorium because of questions surrounding the ethics of executions. That is 139 lives that were saved. These people were all near death. How many innocent people were not exonerated?

Three men who were freed from Illinois’ death row are speaking at Gregory Hall tonight at 7 p.m. Along with experts and advocates, the exonerated men will discuss the criminal justice system.

Two of the exonerated men were initially found guilty on confessions obtained after torture from Chicago police officers.

In addition to systematic problems leading to false convictions and racial discrimination in the justice system, it costs significantly more to execute an inmate than it does to impose life in prison without parole. In addition to the cost of the appeals process, the State of Illinois and the city of Chicago are currently paying multi-million dollar payouts for wrongful death sentences.

The Committee on Criminal Law of the Chicago Bar Association unanimously recommended abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.

“The state of Illinois is in deep trouble, and we should not be squandering money on the death penalty when there’s such great need – not just with victims but with the elderly, with children, for health care, and for education,” said retired Cook County judge Sheila Murphy in a report to the Committee on Criminal Law.

In addition, many experts point to the death penalty’s inability to reduce crime. Criminals who commit premeditated acts of murder think they are too smart to be caught or are not considering the future, according to Hugo Adam Bedau in “The Case Against the Death Penalty.” Furthermore, the majority of murders are not premeditated, and thus, the criminal is not contemplating the future.

Steven D. Levitt discussed the issue in his best-selling book Freakonomics.

“… If you do back-of-the-envelope calculations, it becomes clear that no rational criminal should be deterred by the death penalty, since the punishment is too distant and too unlikely to merit much attention,” Levitt writes.