The Death Penalty

By Phil 1000 March 25, 1997

The death penalty has existed for well over 4000 years. In 1728 BC the
code of Hamurabe was passed to allow legal execution. For centuries capital
punishment was a public spectacle: states used executions to demonstrate the
ultimate consequence of attacking the state. During the 18th century in England
executions attracted tens of thousands of people in some cases there would be
riots. Also in England the church was allowed to burn people alive at the stake
for the crime of heresy. Under Queen Mary Tutor (the infamous "Bloody Mary")
thousands were executed just for not returning to the Catholic faith. Most of
these executions took place in the market place so the public would be aware of
what would happen if you decided to follow your own religion. Many burned at
the stake were women and some were even children. It is ironic that
Christianity is built around forgiveness. Many other gruesome mass executions
throughout the ages were performed for minor crimes that today would be classed
as mmisdemeanors.
One of the most vicious methods of execution ever invented was geared
not only to inflict pain but to provide a gruesome spectacle for the public. It
was the English punishment for treason. It is called hanging, drawing and
countering. First you would be dragged to the place of execution on a hurdle.
This is a type of sled that was attached to the back of a horse. You would be
hanged to the brink of death before being cut down. The third stage of the
execution is that the persons gentiles would be cut off and burned in front of
the body before it was cut from the going to the chest and the intestines would
be taken out and also burned, after the body would be cut into four pieces and
the head would be displayed for the public. In one case a man at the point of
the hanging took a literal running jump in order to break his neck but
unfortunately the cord broke instead. This caused him to be totally conscious
for the rest of the execution.
In some parts of the world executions are still performed in keeping
with traditions of the Catholic church. In the Philippines, since the church
believes that Christ died at 3:00 in the afternoon, every execution done in this
country is performed at 3:00. Even more unbelievable is the fact that in some
Islamic countries executions are performed as they were throughout history.
Under Islamic law there is no difference between the church and the state and
executions are carried out publicly on Friday after afternoon prayers.
The first act geared to more humane executions was passed in 1868 when
Britain took execution away from the public eye and performed them behind prison
walls. During this time they also started to use the new idea of the
penitentiary. This was based on the concept that criminals could be reformed
and those who were not sentenced to death were placed in jail for a said amount
of time and then released into society to live a normal life. In France however
public executions were performed until 1939. People would go to these, get
drunk, and watch the spectacle as a form of entertainment. In 1939 things
changed when the execution of Ugene Windeman was video taped by a photographer
and pictures were published afterwards without the knowing or permission of
British authorities. The French Government was very embarrassed and public
execution was banned in France.
During the past year in China, Amnesty International recorded over 2000
executions and believe that the real number is much larger. The guilty are
paraded through the streets before being shoot once in the back of the head.
Saudi Arabia also executes in public by beheading by sword outside on
display. Of the more than 200 people executed in the last three years 70% of
them were foreigners. Nigeria ranks third in executions. Their method is a
firing squad again in public. One hundred Nigerians were executed last year
under authority of the military state.
I personally find these situations very disturbing. It seems that this
is something that would have taken place during the 1800\'s when people were not
so civilized. But this is happening in today\'s world. As close as our nearest
neighbor the United States. Although executions take place behind prison walls
pro capital punishment groups gather outside of the prison with signs and cheers.
In most states the law allows the family of the victims of the convicted to
witness the executions.