The Death Penalty: No Place in the Twenty-First Century

The USA is in an increasingly isolated position in tolerating the death penalty: 117 countries last month voted for a global death penalty moratorium, with only 38, including the USA, voting against this. In its opposition America keeps strange company; the only three countries that regularly execute more prisoners than the USA have questionable human rights records (China, Iran and Saudi Arabia). The vast majority of countries now view capital punishment as backward and illogical – a penalty that ‘has no place in the 21st century’.

18 USA states have abolished the death penalty, but Mississippi, where Willie Manning languishes on death row, retains it. On Martin Luther King Day Mississippi citizens would do well to recall Dr King’s opposition to the death penalty:

“Capital punishment is against the better judgment of modern criminology and above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God.”

Many compelling arguments weigh against the death penalty. For instance, it creates new victims. Innocent people often experience lifelong trauma after an execution: family members and friends of the person executed, prison staff and defense attorneys are all likely to be affected. And it is quite possible that some of those executed are innocent: the USA constitution does not guarantee otherwise.

Instead of continuing with an outdated and barbaric means of punishment, Mississippi should show leadership in embracing the inevitable future. The death penalty in Mississippi should be consigned to the past.

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