How many murderers are executed every year in the United States these days? Forty? Fifty? I think I can safely say that its certainly not over sixty. If I was an Anti Death Penalty supporter I would be pretty happy with those figures. With that rate they soon won't be strapping anyone to a gurney, and as less are indeed getting sentenced to death by American courts this is exactly whats happening. Its easier for opponents to get some thing abolished if support is low and surely it must be if a mere fifty or so killers are sent to the death chamber.
Let me put it like this: if I was the ruler of a country and one of my aides told me, "look we might as well scrap hanging criminals because we only execute fifty a year anyway," I would probably go along with it. Its half hearted, and bordering on lenient, so why bother continuing it Id think to myself. Its almost guaranteed that it won't deter any future murderers if deterence is the reasoning behind capital punishment. (I personally believe it shouldn't be and that punishment is the sole reason).
Of course if the USA want to be rid of the death penalty, then they are on the correct path because the numbers will keep dropping and dropping until....well they end up with no death rows. One only has to look at Britains history with capital punishment for proof of what I say. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries we hanged people like there was no tomorrow. Even common thieves and sheep rustlers were not spared the walk to the gallows in our enthusiasm to bring lawbreakers to justice. Heck audiences flocked to public executions like rugby matches today (numbers ranged from 30,000 to an incredible 70,000), and stalls sold foor and drink to the ghoulish crowds. It was we Brits who turned hanging into a science when William Marwood developed the 'long drop' and Albert Pierrepoint perfected it. None executed with more zest than the United Kingdom.
But for how long?
And look at us today. The number of death sentences, or more importantly the number actually carried out, began falling in the early 1900's until in 1969 we abolished it completely. Our last hangings were in 1964. So you can see how abolishment creeps up, almost without the general public (especially the majority who take no interest in the subject) ever realising it. I believe its happening in America right now. According to statistics online the number of executions as well as newly imposed death sentences slumped to record low levels in 2011. Also the governor of Illinois put a stop to executions in his state and don't think for one minute that other states won't look at this and think of following it. Once the rot (some call it enlightenment) starts its hard to stop it spreading. We Brits know this and if the Americans have any desire to carry on executing its murderers they would do well to learn from our mistake. (Mistake or victory depending which side of the fence you stood of course).
Could it be that Americans (or its movers and shakers) have been actually listening to European countries when they keep on saying that the death penalty is barbaric and uncivilised? Americans don't like to be seen taking the lead from others, they like to be leaders, and my guess is they have looked around at all of the countries where execution has been scrapped and it has made them uncomfortable being one of the few left who carry it out. Especially when you consider the company they are in. (And I would like to make this clear here, I personally don't regard places like Iran as backward but it seems that some in the Anti death penalty movement do because they enjoy snootily informing us that Americans are in doubtful company when it comes to executions).
We must remember that the United States is a very young country compared to places like Britain, and IF it truly is civilised to abolish the death penalty as folks like Amnesty keep telling us then it will take them that much longer to discover this. European and Middle Eastern countries have been puttig people to death since before Jesus turned water into wine and are not exactly new to the subject. America is. And this is why I really do believe that in something like ten to fifteen years there will be no more executions there.
** If any readers are interested in chatting with Dai Jakes about the subject, you can find him on the ProDeathPenalty .com forum where he is a regular poster. Pop in and say, it really is a friendly place.