Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Death Penalty--Iran, China, and the US

A recent Times article sees Iran's institution and use of the death penalty as a serious gaffe in their justice system. I can see why...29 hangings in one day despite a 2002 moratorium against the punishment. The charges: Rape, murder, and drug trafficking.

If 29 is a small number consider that last year Iran put 317 criminals to death coming in second to China's 470. The US only executed 42 in 2007. Keep in mind populations, and per capita Iran is leading the way in legal slayings:

  1. Iran: 317 executions, 70,495,782 citizens--1/222,384 are executed.
  2. China: 470 executions, 1,325,208,000 citizens--1/2,819,591 are executed.
  3. US: 42 executions, 304,721,000 citizens--1/7,255,261 are executed.
So you are 324 times more likely to die at the hand of the state in Iran than in the US, not that you are involved in such criminalizing behavior. But the homicide rate in Iran 2.93 (per 100,000) as opposed to 5.7 in the US. So, the US homicide rate is almost double Iran's despite the extremely more harsh penalty (remember, 324 times more harsh).

I don't know where I am going with this...it's just interesting.


James said...

Sometimes I wonder where we are going with this whole "rights" thing. It seems that the criminals in the U.S. have more rights than the victims, whereas in Iran, for example, a criminal loses all of his (or her) rights. Putting aside "cruelty" and "fairness", which legal system seems to be more effective in deterring, say, homicide? Accordingto your post, if I understand correctly, it is Iran's.

This opens up a whole gambet of moral/legal questions for me. I understand that you have to be easy on someone that has been accused of a crime until they are proven guilty. That is what is great about our system, believe me, I know first hand. But what about the ones that are proven guilty? I'm not talking about circumstantial evidence, I'm talking about proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Wrongful convictions take place everyday, again, I know first hand.
To sum it all up, I pose this question: Would our country be safer if we were harder on criminals? Would our homicide rate possibly drop to below that of those countries that execute on a whim?
Don't get me wrong here, I believe in mercy, but I also believe in justice and prevention.

Good post, Nate. I like statistics and numbers.

nate said...

Thanks James!
I seriously hadn't considered what you went through at the hands of our injustice system (jk) when I wrote this. I really don't know the answers to your questions, but I agree in some cases, think we go way too easy on folks, but some times, folks are unjustly punished.

Do you remember that American kid that spray-painted a bunch of cars in Singapore? His punishment was having his butt-cheeks split open by caning. Maybe a little tough, but I doubt he ever pulls that stunt again should he be vacationing in Singapore!