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Argument: Executions are cruel and unusual punishment, violating human rights

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Supporting quotations

"Thoughts on the death penalty". Retrieved May 1, 2008 - "It must be remembered that criminals are real people too who have life and with it the capacity to feel pain, fear and the loss of their loved ones, and all the other emotions that the rest of us are capable of feeling. It is easier to put this thought on one side when discussing the most awful multiple murderers but less so when discussing, say, an 18 year old girl convicted of drug trafficking. (Singapore hanged two girls for this crime in 1995 who were both only 18 at the time of their offences and China shot an 18 year old girl for the same offence in 1998.)

There is no such thing as a humane method of putting a person to death irrespective of what the State may claim (see later). Every form of execution causes the prisoner suffering, some methods perhaps cause less than others, but be in no doubt that being executed is a terrifying and gruesome ordeal for the criminal. What is also often overlooked is the extreme mental torture that the criminal suffers in the time leading up to the execution. How would you feel knowing that you were going to die tomorrow morning at 8.00 a.m.?"


Hugo Adam Bedau. "The Case Against The Death Penalty". American Civil Liberties Union. 1992 - Capital punishment is cruel and unusual. It is a relic of the earliest days of penology, when slavery, branding, and other corporal punishments were commonplace. Like those other barbaric practices, executions have no place in a civilized society[...]


William Brennan, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice - "I adhere to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments."[1]

  • If a punishment is unusually severe, if there is a strong probability that it is inflicted arbitrarily, if it is substantially rejected by contemporary society, and if there is no reason to believe that it serves any penal purpose more effectively than some less severe punishment, then the continued infliction of that punishment violates the command of the Clause that the State may not inflict inhuman and uncivilized punishments upon those convicted of crimes. Under these principles and this test, death is today a ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment.[2]

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