As the year 2002 draws to a close, little if anything, has changed in the United States in regards to state-sanctioned killing. Various campaigns, calls for clemency, petitions, and international condemnation, have failed to humanize U.S. politicians.
The United States stands alone in the Western civilized world, hooked on "vengeance" for an answer to society's woes, wasting millions of dollars to legally kill just one human being. Imagine the billions of dollars which has been wasted over the years killing their citizens.
More than 61 people have been executed in the U.S. this year alone. They include two mentally ill males, several people whose legal representation was inadequate,prisoners whose guilt remained in doubt, a Mexican national denied his consular rights, and a Pakistan national abducted from Pakistan by U.S. agents ignoring human rights safeguards.
Amnesty International has labelled the USA a "rogue" of a state which continues to flout and violate international laws, standards and treaties. Since 1976, 812 people have been executed nationally, 285 have been in the state of Texas.
The U.S. is the only western nation which has not abolished capital punishment. It holds the world title for executing the most child offenders worldwide.
In 1968 there were 517 death row prisoners in the U.S.Currently, 3,697 prisoners are on death row awaiting execution. These numbers continue to increase, annually.
The U.S. incarcerates the most people per head of population and has the largest jail population than any other country in the world. Over two million of the world's eight million prisoners are in the U.S. (1 in every 142 people).
America has a half-million more prisoners than China with only one-quarter of its population. (China stops short of executing child offenders).
Each year the U.S. incarcerates more than 10 million people. Since 1980, the U.S. prison population has more than tripled and each year these numbers increase. The adult U.S. correctional population reached a record high at the end of 2001 with 3.1 percent of the nation's adult population incarcerated or under community supervision.
Almost 6.6 million men and women made up the correctional population at the end of 2001, an increase of 147,000 from the end of 2000. One in every 32 adult U.S. residents were on probation or parole or were held in a prison or jail.
If recent incarceration rates in the U.S. remain unchangedan estimated 1 of every 20 people (5.1%) will serve time in a prison during their lifetime.
The rate of incarceration in the U.S. is currently 704 per 100,000 people. Almost two thirds of countries have rates of 150 or below, per 100,000 people. In Australia, the rate of incarceration is 143 per 100,000 people.
The U.S. has some of the toughest prison sentences in the world which include life imprisonment without the possibility for parole.
*** All the above being the case, the USA (land of the free) should be the safest country to live in ... fact is, it is one of which has the most violence!
*** The U.S. has the highest rates of childhood homicide,suicide and firearm-related deaths among 25 industrialized countries. There are more than 22,000 murders every year in the U.S. The overall firearm-related death rate among children less than 15 years of age is 12 times higher than among children in the other 25 countries combined.
The firearm-related homicide rate in the U.S. was nearly 16 times higher than in all of the other 25 countries combined. The firearm-related suicide rate was nearly 11times higher.
There are 35 firearm-related deaths per 1 million people in the U.S. In Australia, the number of firearm-related deaths is 0.7 per 1 million people.
The reasons why America (the only retentionist western nation) still embraces the death penalty ritual of vengeance, are complex. America's ongoing problems with crime, its long history of tradition for retribution, and politicians' instinct to exploit the issue is one notable explanation. In an effort to win extra votes at government elections, U.S. politicians, overall, continue to "sell" the death penalty to the majority of Americans, adding the "deterrence and retribution" arguments as the main justification for state-sanctioned killing.
At the same time, the strategies undertaken by the tiny member numbers of minority anti-death penalty movements' have been ineffective, and are failing to convince the all important "swinging" public median. Their campaigns and adverts focus mainly on death row prisoners who claim to have been wrongfully convicted. These claims make up about 90% of all convicted prisoners on death row.
This "selective" support of death row prisoners, is not only discriminative, but damaging the integrity of most anti-death movements'.
The honest claim of innocence has become lost among the static of false claims. Sadly, the other 10% of death row prisoners, are not even worthy of note.
Educating the public, especially the youth of society (our next generation of world leaders) to oppose, or at least not to actively support the death penalty, because of what the death penalty actually is - a barbaric ceremony, cruel, inhumane and degrading - an assault on human dignity and a violation of human rights, should be the future focus of professional abolitionists. This will beone relevant measure of success, an important measure, that will ever indicate that America is coming anywhere close to abolishing the death penalty. Until this can be achieved, the U.S. will continue its long history of tradition for retribution - an "obsessive-compulsion" to kill - a government's avidity for vengeance - to satisfy the most powerful of the public majority's addiction.
Bricks, bones Always alone Engraved in steel Never to atone. I'm already in the grave Tossed deep Underground Tied to eternity Hell-bound. It's already sealed, I can't break this pact, Humanity will learn, From what I lacked.
This was written to me from an inmate in Missouri, illustrating the gloom that is beginning to overcome our loved-ones that are incarcerated in prisons and jails around the world.
Read this poem and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.I hope that you all have a very happy holiday season..
ACADP For Christmas 16 Dec 2002
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