Facts and opinions on the death penalty

The death penalty is considered by most civilized nations as a cruel and inhuman punishment. It has been abolished for all crimes by 70 countries, for all but exceptional crimes such as wartime crimes by 13 countries. 23 countries retain the death penalty in law but have not carried out any executions for the past 10 years or more. However, the death penalty continues to be commonly applied in 90 nations. China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States and Iran are the most prolific executioners in the world. Indeed, the US is one of the six countries (including also Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) which executes even people under 18 at the time they commit their crimes. The US is the country which has carried out the greatest number of known executions of child offenders ( 13 since 1990).
As long as the death penalty is maintained, the risk of executing the innocent can never be eliminated. Since 1973 more than 85 US prisoners have been released from death row after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death. Some had come close to execution after spending many years under sentence of death.
Recurring features in their cases include prosecutorial or police misconduct; the use of unreliable witness testimony, physical evidence, or confessions; and inadequate defence representation. Other US prisoners have gone to their deaths despite serious doubts over their guilt.
Different methods of execution are used: eg. hanging, the electric chair, lethal injection, shooting by firing squad and lethal gas.


An interview

What do you think about the death penalty?

Mr. Rinaldi (teacher)
"I think that the death penalty isn’t right. Never. The law can’t decide if a man must die"

Luna (student)
"I’m against "

Francesca (student)
"The law can’t kill, it must provide an example of justice and defence of right"

Mrs. Tosi (teacher)
"I’m against, because the law can’t ‘‘avenge’’ on injury "

Two girls
"We are against because the law can’t decide about life and death"

Roberta (student)
"Sometimes, when there is sure evidence of the crime, I’m for the death penalty"

Mr. Mannucci (teacher)
"I’m definitely against!"

Valentina (student)
"Sometimes I’m for the death penalty"

Mrs. Gorini (teacher)
"I think that when there is sure evidence the death penalty is a rigth punishment"

Mrs. Carmignani (teacher)
"I’m definitely against. The law must give the possibility of the rehabilitation"

 I think that the death penalty should be abolished all over the world because it is a violation of the most fundamental right - the right to life; because the possibility of error of judgement can never be excluded and because the death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading.

Elsa Esposito 3BL

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