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The Death Penalty by Mind Map: The Death Penalty

1. Death Penalty and Drugs/War on Drugs

1.1. According to a 2011 article by the Lawyers Collective, an NGO in India, "32 countries impose capital punishment for offences involving narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances."[1] A 2012 report by Harm Reduction International "documents the 33 countries and territories that retain death penalty for drug offences, including 13 in which the sentence is mandatory."[2]

1.1.1. in 2015, China, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam have all sentenced people to death for drug-related crimes Death is the only legal punishment allowed for certain drug offences in several countries, including Iran, Malaysia and Singapore. In these countries, these offences carry what’s known as a mandatory death sentence. This means that judges can’t take the accused’s personal circumstances or anything else into consideration when making a decision (see Shahrul Izani’s case under Malaysia below). As of the end of December 2014, 64 people were on death row for drug offences. In January 2015, Indonesia carried out its first executions since 2013, under the then newly sworn-in President Joko Widodo. The President has said there will be no clemency for those facing execution for drug crime. So far in 2015, 14 people have been executed by firing squad, all for drug-related offences.

1.2. The United States--Very large quantities or mixtures of heroin, cocaine, ecgonine, phencyclidine (PCP), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, or methamphetamine can be punishable by the death penalty. The United States Supreme Court in Kennedy v. Louisiana struck down capital punishment for crimes that do not result in the death of a victim, but left open the possibility for "offenses against the State" – including crimes such as "drug kingpin activity" (and treason and espionage)

1.3. International law says that the death penalty can only be used for the “most serious crimes”, like murder. Drug crime does not meet that threshold: UN bodies have repeatedly said that drug crime falls short of the “most serious crimes”.

2. Race

2.1. Jury 3X more likely to convict black criminals for a crime against a white person

2.1.1. 75% of death penalty cases have white victims

2.2. Support for the death penalty has edged down among whites, blacks and Hispanics since 2011, but wide racial differences persist. About six-in-ten whites (63%) favor the death penalty, compared with 34% of blacks and 45% of Hispanics.

3. Execution by Location

3.1. The South overwhelmingly has more death row cases than the rest of America

3.1.1. TX and OK have more death row cases than the whole Midwest, The West, and the Northeast put together MN, CT, CO, & WY all have only one death row case since 1976

4. Mental Illness

4.1. Connecticut exempts a capital defendant from execution if his “mental capacity was significantly impaired or [his] ability to conform [his] conduct to the requirements of law was significantly impaired but not so impaired in either case as to constitute a defense to prosecution”

4.1.1. Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. Since 1983, over 60 people with mental illness or retardation have been executed in the United States. It is conservatively estimated that 5-10% of death row inmates suffer from serious mental illness.

5. Gender

5.1. Women constitute less than 2% of the total death row population

5.1.1. Only 16 women have been executed since 1976

5.2. The share of women who favor the death penalty has fallen since 2011, while men’s views have shown virtually no change. Men are now more likely than women to favor the death penalty (64% vs. 49%). Four years ago, the gender difference was much more modest (65% of men favored the death penalty, as did 59% of women).

6. Expense

6.1. Defense costs for death penalty trials in Kansas averaged about $400,000 per case, compared to $100,000 per case when the death penalty was not sought.

6.1.1. In Maryland, an average death penalty case resulting in a death sentence costs approximately $3 million. The eventual costs to Maryland taxpayers for cases pursued 1978-1999 will be $186 million. Five executions have resulted.

7. Religion

7.1. Christian tradition from the New Testament have come to a range of conclusions about the permissibility and social value of capital punishment. While some hold that a strict reading of certain texts[1] forbids executions, others point to various verses of the New Testament which seem to endorse the death penalty's use

7.1.1. Individuals who self-identify as Protestants are somewhat more likely to endorse capital punishment than are Catholics and far more likely than those with no religious preference. Younger Catholics are among those least likely to support the death penalty. A third of Catholics who once supported the use of the death penalty now oppose it.

7.2. Islamic scholars state that whilst the Qur'an professes the basic principle that everyone has the right to live, this principle allows for an exception when a court of law demands it. Their precept, according to verse 6:151, is "Do not kill a Soul which Allah has made sacred except through the due process of law".

7.2.1. In Sharia, the family of a murder victim can pardon the murderer. The victim or the victim's family are the judges for all crimes; they may decide what the punishment shall be under the supervision of a jurist who knows the Qur'an The Qur'an clearly illustrates the possibility of capital punishment in verse 5:32. "On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land-it would be as if he slew the whole Mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole Mankind. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land."

7.3. Buddhism teaches against killing, unless it is in self-defense and prevents 'great suffering' from occurring.

7.3.1. The first of the Five Precepts (Panca-sila) is to abstain from destruction of life. Chapter 10 of the Dhammapada states: Everyone fears punishment; everyone fears death, just as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill. Everyone fears punishment; everyone loves life, as you do. Therefore do not kill or cause to kill.

7.4. The official teachings of Judaism approve the death penalty in principle but the standard of proof required for application of death penalty is extremely stringent, and in practice, it has been abolished by various Talmudic decisions, making the situations in which a death sentence could be passed effectively impossible and hypothetical.

7.4.1. There must have been two witnesses to the crime, and these must conform to a prescribed list of criteria. For example, females and close relatives of the criminal are precluded from being witnesses according to Biblical law, while full-time gamblers are precluded as a matter of rabbinical law. The witnesses must have verbally warned the person seconds before the act that they were liable for the death penalty The person must then have verbally acknowledged that he or she was warned and that the warning would be disregarded, and then have gone ahead and committed the sin. No individual was allowed to testify against him or herself. Jewish legal scholar Maimonides famously stated that "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death."

8. As of January 1, 2016, there were 2,943 death row inmates in the United States.

9. Process (and its flaws)

9.1. Since 1973, 156 death-row prisoners have been released because they were innocent. In addition, at least ten people have been executed since 1976 even though they were probably innocent

9.1.1. Wrongful convictions often result from false confessions, which are frequent among people with mental retardation, mistaken eyewitnesses, jail house snitches, junk science and prosecutorial abuse.

9.1.2. Exonerations by race: Black 81, White 61, Latino 12, Other 2

9.2. The state administration of the death penalty is complex. Each state practicing capital punishment has different laws regarding its methods and crimes that qualify. Typically, it involves four critical steps: Sentencing, Direct Review, State Collateral Review, and Federal Habeas Corpus.

9.3. In 2010, a death row inmate waited an average of 178 months (or close to 15 years) between sentencing and execution. Nearly a quarter of deaths on death row in the U.S. are due to natural causes. When the United Kingdom had capital punishment, the convicted were given one appeal of their sentence.

10. Last Words:


10.1.1. Last Statement: “You clown police. You gonna stop with all that killing all these kids. You’re gonna stop killing innocent kids, murdering young kids. When I kill one or pop one, ya’ll want to kill me. God has a plan for everything. You hear? I love everyone that loves me. I ain’t got no love for anyone that don’t love me.” Crime: “On 5/19/1999, Williams was driving a stolen vehicle. A 30-year-old white male police officer stopped the vehicle and attempted to arrest Williams. Williams shot the officer in the chest and fled the scene. The officer was able to get back to his car and radio for help, but died as a result of the gunshot.”


10.2.1. Last Statement: “I’m an innocent man. I did not kill anyone. Ya’ll are killing an innocent man. My left arm is killing me. It hurts bad.” Crime: “On 06/21/2000, in Montgomery County, Texas, Green kidnapped a 12 year old white female from a private residence. Green took the victim to his residence, where he killed her by strangling her to death. The victim was also sexually assaulted. Green buried the victim in his backyard, then dug up the body and placed it inside the residence, behind a chair.”


10.3.1. Last Statement: “Can you hear me? Did I ever tell you, you have dad’s eyes? I’ve noticed that in the last couple of days. I’m sorry for putting you through all this. Tell everyone I love them. It was good seeing the kids. I love them all; tell mom, everybody. I am very sorry for all of the pain. Tell Brenda I love her. To everybody back on the row, I know you’re going through a lot over there. Keep fighting, don’t give up everybody.” Crime: “On 03/31/2002, in San Antonio, Texas, Hernandez and 2 co-defendants abducted, robbed, sexually assaulted, and murdered a 37-year old Hispanic female, later transporting her body to a wooded area and burying her in a shallow grave. Hernandez asked one co-defendant to purchase the shovel used to dig the grave while the victim was still alive and being assaulted.”


10.4.1. “I want to tell ya’ll, know that I love you. Billy, I love you, English, Hart and Eloise. Dwight, take care of Dwight. I’m going home, I’m going home. I’ll be alright, don’t worry. I love ya’ll. God bless and the Texas Rangers, Texas Rangers.” Crime: “On 3/20/2000 at a car wash in Irving, Harris entered his former place of employment and began shooting co-workers. Harris had been fired three days prior to the shooting after exposing himself to two women. Five people were killed during the shooting. After the shooting, Harris fled the scene on foot.”


10.5.1. Last Statement: “This offender declined to make a last statement.” Crime: “Black fatally shot his 36-year-old wife, his 5-month-old daughter, and his 17-month-old granddaughter. Black shot and killed all three of the victims with a 9 millimeter pistol. After he shot all three, he called 911, and when the officers arrived he was holding his deceased daughter in his arms.”

11. Public Opinion

11.1. Because of mistakes and a lack of efficacy, the death penalty is losing the confidence of the American public, according to a new poll by RT Strategies. Almost 40% of the U.S. population believe they would be excluded as jurors in capital cases and a strong majority (58%) believe it is time for a moratorium on the death penalty while the process undergoes a careful review. The poll was commissioned by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) (June 9, 2007).

11.1.1. Americans Embrace Alternatives to the Death Penalty - Public support for the death penalty drops to below 50 percent when voters are offered alternative sentences. More people would support life without parole plus restituion to the victim's family than would choose the death penalty. The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Mar. 25-29 among 1,500 adults, finds widespread doubts about how the death penalty is applied and whether it deters serious crime. Yet a majority (63%) says that when someone commits a crime like murder, the death penalty is morally justified; just 31% say it is morally wrong, even in cases of murder.

11.2. Law Enforcement Views on the Death Penalty - A 1995 Hart Research Poll of police chiefs in the U.S. found that the majority of the chiefs do not believe that the death penalty is an effective law enforcement tool.

11.3. About half (52%) say that minorities are more likely than whites to be sentenced to death for similar crimes; fewer (41%) think that whites and minorities are equally likely to be sentenced for similar .

11.4. 71% of Americans say there is some risk that an innocent person will be put to death. Only about a quarter (26%) say there are adequate safeguards in place to make sure that does not happen.

12. Politics

12.1. Much of the decline in support over the past two decades has come among Democrats. Currently, just 40% of Democrats favor the death penalty, while 56% are opposed. In 1996, Democrats favored capital punishment by a wide margin (71% to 25%).

12.1.1. Democrats continue to be ideologically divided over the death penalty. Nearly half of conservative and moderate Democrats (48%) favor it, compared with 29% of liberals.

12.2. There has been much less change in opinions among Republicans: 77% favor the death penalty, down from 87% in 1996. The share of independents who favor the death penalty has fallen 22 points over this period, from 79% to 57%.

12.2.1. Among Republicans, conservative Republicans are as likely as moderate and liberal Republicans to favor the death penalty (77% each).

13. Age

13.1. Age differences in views of the death penalty continue to be modest. About half (51%) of those under 30 favor the death penalty, as do 57% of those 30 to 49, 61% of those 50 to 64 and 54% of those 65 and older.

13.2. In March 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for those who had committed their crimes at under 18 years of age was cruel and unusual punishment and hence barred by the Constitution.

13.2.1. Among all inmates under sentence of death, half were age 20 to 29 at the time of arrest; 11% were age 19 or younger; and fewer than 1% were age 55 or older. The average age at time of arrest was 28 years.

14. Execution Methods

14.1. In the 36 states, the Federal Government, and U.S. Military that currently have death penalty statutes, five different methods of execution are prescribed: Lethal Injection, Electrocution, Lethal Gas, Firing Squad, and Hanging. All jurisdictions provide for execution by lethal injection.

14.1.1. In 1977, Oklahoma became the first state to adopt lethal injection as a means of execution Medical ethics preclude doctors from participating in executions. However, a doctor will certify the inmate is dead. This lack of medical participation can be problematic because often injections are performed by inexperienced technicians or orderlies. If a member of the execution team injects the drugs into a muscle instead of a vein, or if the needle becomes clogged, extreme pain can result. Many prisoners have damaged veins resulting from intravenous drug use and it is sometimes difficult to find a usable vein, resulting in long delays while the inmate remains strapped to the gurney.

14.1.2. In 1924, the use of cyanide gas was introduced as Nevada sought a more humane way of executing its inmates. Gee Jon was the first person executed by lethal gas. Today, five states authorize lethal gas as a method of execution, but all have lethal injection as an alternative method. A federal court in California found this method to be cruel and unusual punishment. Clifton Duffy, "At first there is evidence of extreme horror, pain, and strangling. The eyes pop. The skin turns purple and the victim begins to drool." (Weisberg, 1991) Caryl Chessman, before he died in California's gas chamber in 1960 told reporters that he would nod his head if it hurt. Witnesses said he nodded his head for several minutes. (Ecenbarger, 1994) According to Dr. Richard Traystman of John Hopkins University School of Medicine, "The person is unquestionably experiencing pain and extreme anxiety...The sensation is similar to the pain felt by a person during a heart attack, where essentially the heart is being deprived of oxygen." The inmate dies from hypoxia, the cutting-off of oxygen to the brain.

14.1.3. Seeking a more humane method of execution than hanging, New York built the first electric chair in 1888 and executed William Kemmler in 1890. Today, electrocution is not used as the sole method of execution in any state. Electrocution was the sole method in Nebraska until the State Supreme Court ruled the method unconstitutional in February 2008.

14.1.4. On March 23, 2015, firing squad was reauthorized in Utah as a viable method of execution if, and only if the state was unable to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out a lethal injection execution. Prior to this reauthorization, firing squad was only a method of execution in Utah if chosen by an inmate before lethal injection became the sole means of execution. The most recent execution by this method was that of Ronnie Gardner. By his own choosing, Gardner was executed by firing squad in Utah on June 17, 2010. For execution by this method, the inmate is typically bound to a chair with leather straps across his waist and head, in front of an oval-shaped canvas wall. The chair is surrounded by sandbags to absorb the inmate's blood. A black hood is pulled over the inmate's head. A doctor locates the inmate's heart with a stethoscope and pins a circular white cloth target over it. Standing in an enclosure 20 feet away, five shooters are armed with .30 caliber rifles loaded with single rounds. One of the shooters is given blank rounds. Each of the shooters aims his rifle through a slot in the canvas and fires at the inmate. (Weisberg, 1991) The prisoner dies as a result of blood loss caused by rupture of the heart or a large blood vessel, or tearing of the lungs. The person shot loses consciousness when shock causes a fall in the supply of blood to the brain. If the shooters miss the heart, by accident or intention, the prisoner bleeds to death slowly. (Hillman, 1992 and Weisberg, 1991) Hanging

14.1.5. Until the 1890s, hanging was the primary method of execution used in the United States. Hanging is still used in Delaware and Washington, although both have lethal injection as an alternative method of execution.

15. Socioeconomic Class

15.1. Scott Phillips, a sociology and criminology professor at the University of Denver, published a study last month in the Law & Society Review focusing on the imposition of death sentences in relation to the victim's social status. Phillips studied capital cases in Harris County (Houston), Texas, between 1992 and 1999 and found that the social status of the victim in the underlying murder had a significant influence on whether the death penalty would be sought and imposed on the defendant.

15.1.1. In examining 504 cases, Phillips found that defendants are six times more likely to receive a death sentence if they kill the highest status victims (whites or Hispanics who have college degrees, are married, and have no criminal record), compared to those defendants who kill the lowest status victims (black or Asian victims who were single, with a prior criminal record, and no college degree). In a previous study of the same 504 cases, Phillips found that defendants who are convicted of capital murder were more likely to get the death penalty in Harris County when defended by court-appointed counsel, compared with those who hired private lawyers to represent them for the entire case.

15.2. U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas noted that “One searches our chronicles in vain for the execution of any member of the affluent strata of this society.”

15.2.1. Noted abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean argued succinctly that " the rich people never go to death row.”