In early July, the founder of the sect was executed in Japan. "Aum shinrikyo" (an organization whose activities are prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation) Shoko Asaharu and six of his associates. The death penalty seems to be a relic of the past (I would like to immediately recall the Inquisition or the execution of political criminals in Europe) - it is believed that it has no place in a modern state. Nevertheless, it is still more widespread than one might imagine. We figure out how this happened and how the supporters of the death penalty explain its preservation.
The death penalty was gradually abolished in the world. The first country to do this completely was Venezuela: in 1863, they abolished the death penalty for all crimes, regardless of their severity, including crimes against the state. The first European country to abolish this punishment was Portugal - she did it in 1867. By 1960, the death penalty was abolished in about twenty-five countries (although in some it was retained for crimes against the state), and towards the end of the century there were even more of them - to them were added those where the prohibition was not fixed by law, but de- in fact, the measure is prohibited.
The last death sentence in Great Britain was carried out in 1964: Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans were executed by hanging for brutally killing an acquaintance for money. The attitude towards executions in society at that time was changing - perhaps, if the execution of the sentence was delayed for a couple of weeks, it could be replaced with life imprisonment. In the same year, a moratorium was introduced on the death penalty, and five years later, in 1969, it was finally abolished.
Today the death penalty is allowed in fifty-three countries - as of the end of 2017, at least 21,919 people are awaiting execution. China is considered the leader in the number of executions: according to Amnesty International, more sentences are carried out here than in all other countries of the world combined (we are talking about thousands of cases), although the exact numbers are unknown: this information is classified at the state level. In addition to China, most of the executions carried out in the world last year took place in just four countries: Iran (more than half of officially confirmed executions), Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan. The death penalty has been abolished in almost all of Europe, the only exception being Belarus. Japan is one of the few advanced economies where the least punishment is still used; in addition to it, this list includes the United States (although in some states it is prohibited) and Singapore.
Some supporters of the death penalty say that it is necessary to make the future safer, others that it is needed as a response to the most atrocious crimes
In Russia, the death penalty is not legally prohibited, but since 1996, when the country joined the Council of Europe, there has actually been a moratorium on it - instead, life imprisonment is applied. The last person to be executed in Russia was Sergei Golovkin, who killed eleven boys from 1986 to 1992: in 1994 he was sentenced to capital punishment, and in August 1996 the sentence was carried out. The moratorium expired in 2010, but in 2009 the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation extended it until the State Duma ratified the protocol on the abolition of the death penalty.
In the world, the attitude towards the death penalty remains controversial: while some are convinced that this is an inhumane measure, and the costs of maintaining prisoners before execution are also high (dangerous criminals can wait more than ten years to be executed), others insist on its necessity. Bahrain, Jordan and Kuwait resumed the death penalty last year after a long hiatus, but supporters can be found in countries where moratoriums are firmly in place.
Proponents of the death penalty usually adhere to two types of arguments: some say that it is necessary to make the future safer (for example, to prevent further crimes), others that it is needed as a response to the most atrocious crimes, as retribution on behalf of society.
The tit-for-tat approach is actively used, for example, in China. In 2013, the country executed four foreigners who were accused of killing thirteen Chinese sailors. Shortly thereafter, Hu Sijin, editor of the state-owned Chinese newspaper Global Times, wrote on Weibo: "We must vigorously seek revenge and send a stern warning to those who are killing the Chinese people." Citizens of countries where the death penalty is allowed also often attribute this to a desire for retribution. For example, according to a 2014 survey, in the United States, 35% of supporters of such punishment attribute this to the fact that it is "in line with the crime," the principle "tit for tat," or that the perpetrator "took someone else's life."
The idea of abolishing the ban on the death penalty is heard from time to time in Russia. For example, in 2013, after the terrorist attacks in Volgograd, LDPR deputy Roman Khudyakov introduced a bill to the State Duma proposing the introduction of the death penalty for terrorism, pedophilia and inducement to use drugs if this led to the death of two or more people. He also proposed to abolish the legislative provisions prohibiting the use of the death penalty against women (now it applies only to men), as well as to change the age restrictions - the minimum age of the death penalty should be reduced from eighteen to sixteen years, and the maximum, which is sixty-five years, should be abolished. “The Criminal Code is not as harsh on criminals as it should be. Look how many terrorist attacks - explosions in a bus, at a railway station, in a trolleybus,”he said.
Most often, proposals to return the death penalty are heard precisely in the context of terrorism. The leader of A Just Russia, Sergei Mironov, after the Russian plane crash in Egypt and the terrorist attacks in Paris, proposed introducing the death penalty for terrorists and their accomplices - and then repeated this proposal again after the terrorist attack on Nice. This point is also in the electoral program of Vladimir Zhirinovsky. “The death penalty - we can meet halfway, but we warn everyone in advance. This will not reduce crime, but since the citizens want it, we are ready. At least for certain types of crimes - drug trafficking in large consignments, terrorists, big thieves, rapists. These four categories can be restored,”he said in January this year.
At the same time, the argument that the death penalty is necessary as a punishment for the most severe crimes does not always work. According to research, in the United States, the death sentence is much more often associated not with the cruelty of the crime, but, for example, with mental and developmental characteristics, the fact that the offender was abused in childhood or did not pay attention to him, insufficient work of defense lawyers, insufficient consideration the case or the fact that the victim was white. Of the twenty-three cases of people who were executed in the United States in 2017, twenty featured at least one of these factors.
In favor of the second point of view (that the death penalty is needed to fight crime), US President Donald Trump recently spoke out - he proposed introducing the death penalty for drug dealers in order to fight the opioid epidemic in the country. “If we don’t put drug dealers in check, we’re wasting our time,” he said in March. "And that includes the death penalty."
The imperfections of the judicial system cannot be disregarded: according to experts, in the United States, up to 4% of death sentences can be false
This position is explained by Harry Rogers, a former forensic scientist and detective who specializes in murder cases.He believes that the death penalty can be an effective measure for two reasons: “First, it is obvious that the death penalty ensures that a person never becomes a repeat offender. Yes, opponents of this point of view believe that life imprisonment without the possibility of early release will have the same effect, but it is not the same. It happens that dangerous criminals escape or find legal ways to get out of prison and kill again, but when the killer is dead, he no longer threatens society. Dot". Rogers' second argument is that the death penalty can force criminals to interact more with the authorities, for example, force them to give out valuable information in exchange for a change in punishment: “It helps solve other murders, find cases, help families calm down and study how these monsters think in order to understand and to prevent future crimes”.
The question of how the death penalty helps to fight crime remains open. For example, according to a study of the crime rate in Singapore (the death penalty is allowed there) and Hong Kong (there is no death penalty), there is no difference between them. Another study found that there is not much difference between the number of homicides in the American states where the death penalty is prohibited and in the states where it is allowed. Of course, these data are not enough to extrapolate them to the situation as a whole - but it is too early to draw far-reaching conclusions about the positive impact of the death penalty. In addition, the imperfections of the judicial system cannot be disregarded: according to experts, in the United States, up to 4% of death sentences can be false.
The number of executions in the world is gradually decreasing: in 2017, at least 993 cases of death sentences were recorded, which were carried out in twenty-three countries - this is 4% less than in 2016 and 39% less than in 2015. In 2017, 2,591 death sentences were pronounced (in 2016 there were 3,117). Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that the death penalty will be abolished in the world in the near future. This measure remains extremely popular even where it is prohibited. For example, according to polls, the UK is more likely to support its return than its cancellation.
According to the Public Opinion Foundation, in 2015, 60% of Russians surveyed considered the death penalty acceptable (22% were against) - in 2001, 80% adhered to this point of view. More than 70% of respondents said that the death penalty is permissible for pedophilia, more than 50% - for terrorism and murder, 46% - for rape. 8% of respondents believe that the death penalty could be introduced for bribery, 4% - for desecrating religious shrines, and 1% - for tax evasion.