On the death penalty


On this blog, we have expressed our opposition to punishment. We have consistently said we are aware society needs to protect itself. At the same time, we have advocated for healthier societies where everyone is treated with dignity, has access to education and a means to take care of their needs and has an opportunity to participate in the body politic. We feel that a society reeked in inequality is disaster waiting to happen and no matter how severely we punish others for wrongdoing, we will not be any closer to making societies safer and better.

I find capital punishment to serve no end towards reform, limiting occurrence of violent crime and any other perceived utilities. I will readily say I have not been on the side of victims of crime to tell how I would react in a similar station. We can call all this my theory towards crime.

In Kenya, there has been no execution by the state in the last 27 years. In 2009, the then head clown commuted the sentence of about 4000 on death row to life in prison. In his speech he

directed government bodies to study whether the death penalty had any impact on the fight against crime

something he could as well have asked me for an answer.

While this was a good move forward, some of the people locked up are in prison for selling a stone of bhang, selling or drinking local brews; things which to any rational person do not make them a danger to society. Such people leave the prison system worse of and become a major problem for us all.I digress.

While still researching for this post, I found this comment

A Nakuru court sentenced to death a man accused of killing a couple that owned a private school in Nakuru in 2012. Relatives of the late Alfred Gatienya Githinji and his wife Mary sobbed as Principal Magistrate James Mwaniki read how John Wanyoike Watuleke murdered them. “We have been waiting bitterly for justice for the last three years and God has done his work finally,” said a relative of the Maryanne Tee Academy owners. Prosecution evidence revealed Wanyoike was found with items of the deceased in Kitale, several kilometres from the crime scene

and am not sure how I feel about a god whose maxim is an eye for an eye. I do think somewhere in the good book they say forgive 70×7 0r 70×70- am never sure which but I know it is a hell lot many times.

Having told you about my neck of the woods, there are a number of executions in line in some states of the US of A that are facing some challenges and one asks who benefits from these executions.

What are your thoughts/ opinions on the death penalty? Do you think it serves to reduce crime?

Or do you as Nietzsche in Human all too Human feel

Execution.—How comes it that every execution causes us more pain than a murder? It is the coolness of the executioner, the painful preparation, the perception that here a man is being used as an instrument for the intimidation of others. For the guilt is not punished even if there be any: this is ascribable to the teachers, the parents, the environment, in ourselves, not in the murderer—I mean the predisposing circumstances.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

35 thoughts on “On the death penalty

  1. I do not think the death penalty reduces crime, nor do I think it is moral. It may give a sense of relief through revenge for the victims of a horrific crime, but, even then, you’d have to really be sure you’re killing the right person for the crime.

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  2. Linuxgal says:

    Bar Abbas, a man convicted of terrorism against Rome, was the first person in history to have the penalty of his murders remitted by the death of Yeshua son of Yosef, also known in some circles as Jesus Christ, and other circles as Isa. Ironically, two thousand years later, self-styled followers of Jesus in the United States would become the biggest defenders of the life-for-life penalty laid out in the Code of Moshe, also known as the Law of Moses.

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  3. In law school I did my upper level paper on the death penalty in Florida as it compares to other states. What I found was eye opening.

    In the U.S., accurate statistics are not kept on the death penalty. What I mean is that studies are generally produced to justify a position rather than investigate outcomes. Statistical “data” exists which shows the death penalty reduces and increases crime. In short: a majority of the data out there is useless.

    That being said, the Bureau of Justice Statistics does keep an accurate record of some death penalty statistics, but it isn’t informative enough on evaluating the death penalty. The biggest conclusion I could reach, though, was that states with the highest rate of executions (Texas and Florida, respectively) also were the states with the highest rates of trial error (i.e., retrials or overturned convictions).

    Personally I think that the death penalty is justified in very limited circumstances, as in cases of serial killers or contract killers. The importance is in limited circumstances, as reduced frequency increases accuracy (up to 100% in some jurisdictions).

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  4. I think the death penalty is simply a way of removing irrevocably damaged, and therefore harmful, humans from society. I think it only marginally helps to reduce crime. Since I do not find that human lives have an innate value themselves, I do support it as a means to a limited end. However, it should be used only against those who have had all forensic channels investigated. I think it should be implemented dispassionately, somewhat like I’ve read advocated in either the Book of Five Rings or the Art of War, I’m guessing mostly likely Sun Tzu.

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    • makagutu says:

      Do you think society is culpable in the making of these fellows we think are damaged?
      IS it their fault they are damaged or we just remove them as we would deal with a diseased tomato in the greenhouse?

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      • I think society is indeed culpable. However, I do not think we are necessarily responsible for keeping them alive when resources could be used elsewhere. Just to let you know, I am aware of how this sounds without nuance.

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  5. I’ll share what I shared on Nate’s blog post this past week. China, together with Iran, North Korea, Yemen and the US (the only G7 country to still execute people) carried out the most executions last year.

    Capital punishment does not work. There is a wealth of mounting evidence that proves this fact. The death penalty, both in the U.S. and around the world, is discriminatory and is used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities.

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  6. nannus says:

    In Germany there is no death penalty. Its abolition is in our constitution. Nobody is missing it, except maybe some extremists of different kinds. In the USA, the rate of violent crimes is by far higher than here. I think the death penalty is one of the factors (although probably not the main factor) leading to this. Its presence contributs to the brutalization of society. Another brutalizing factor in the USA is the kind of religious superstition mentioned by you above. The main factor is probably the wapons laws they have, but these other things play a role. Religion also contributes to the stabilization of the belief in death penalty. People who believe in hell and believe that a criminal will definitely go there see nothing bad in sending him there sooner. It is the brutality of the Abrahamic religions.

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    • Nan says:

      I agree with you, nannus, about the religious superstitions. One of the more common ones among those in the Christian community who support the death penalty is “An eye for an eye.”

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    • makagutu says:

      nannus you mention a very critical part in this issue. The belief that the criminal is headed to hell anyway makes people think killing him in whatever way is speeding up his sojourn to hell.

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  7. It’s interesting that religious people support it. One would have thought it was up to God to decide on such matters of importance; the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away etc. surely by killing (ie executing) people, humans are taking on rather more than their remit?

    Either way, from a personal perspective I think even one person killed who was innocent is a good enough reason not to have it. It is grossly uncivilised and barbaric, but perhaps that sums up a lot of our society.

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  8. themodernidiot says:

    It doesn’t reduce or deter crime any more than religion ever did. But it does save quite a bit of tax payer money in the long term. Costs a lot of money to keep baby rapers on death row. I think a lot of people would like to stop paying their room and board.

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  9. >>> “I find capital punishment to serve no end towards reform, limiting occurrence of violent crime and any other perceived utilities.”

    Factually correct. There is no scientific consensus on the effectiveness of capital punishment in reducing violent crime – see: http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/does-the-death-penalty-deter-crime-studies-are-inconclusive-20120418

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  10. aguywithoutboxers says:

    A very provocative post, my Nairobi brother. I see no redeeming social value in executions. We’ve had capital punishment forever and we still have crime. It doesn’t work, so why perpetuate the folly? Much love and naked hugs, my friend! 🙂

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  11. archaeopteryx1 says:

    I’m entirely opposed to the death penalty, it accomplishes nothing. Had Gary Gilmore not declined to resist execution in Utah, in the 1970’s, the US may not have had capital punishment today. His infamous, “Let’s do it!” opened the door. Texas recently executed a mentally-retarded man with the I.Q. of 68 – they should be quite proud of themselves – and worse, the US Supreme Court chose not to intervene.

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