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HAT Forum - "Capital Punishment"

  • The 519, Rm 303 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

Capital Punishment/Death Penalty

Over the many centuries since British, European and African cultures have existed, there have been countless executions. Canada abolished capital punishment in 1976. However, the first country to abolish it for all crimes was Venezuela in 1863 followed by San Marino in 1865. The countries that have been most recent to abolish capital punishment are Timor-Leste (2002), Bhutan (2004), Philippines (2006), Kyrgyzstan (2007), Uzbekistan (2008), and Mongolia (2017).

In the United States, capital punishment still applies in thirty states. Among them are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Arizona, California, Utah and Washington. Interestingly, Mexico does not have and never has had any capital punishment. The last execution in Europe took place in the Ukraine in 1997. Aside of Belarus, there are no European states that carry out the death penalty. According to Amnesty International, 993 executions were carried out in 2017.

Questions about the death penalty arose early with philosophers such as Kant, Cicero, Goethe  and Rousseau to name a few, while Plato, Voltaire and others were vehemently against.  Some of them simply because of their objections to the cruel and many times ineffective methods of carrying it out, others because they were doubting that executions, whatever the method, are any deterrent to committing a serious crime.

Discussion points

Why do so many Canadians support capital punishment?

41% want the death penalty reinstated for some cases.  What crimes deserve the death penalty?

What are the moral implications?

How/why have we justified the death penalty?

Does the cost justify keeping someone in prison for life vs. the death penalty?

Isn’t administering the death penalty in fact repeating the crime? Albeit by the government...

Isn’t anyone who is able to kill mentally ill and should be treated as such?

Is it cheaper to execute than to keep that person alive and rehabilitate? Can a perpetrator prove that he is sorry for his deeds?

In your opinion, is the death penalty ever a deterrent to crime?

Is revenge the answer to any kind of crime? 

Can humanism ever support the death penalty?

Does an execution serve any kind of moral purpose?

How come so many southern Christians are for the death penalty?

Is the death penalty biased against the poor & fraught with racism?

Does a death penalty verdict depend on societal structure? 

Is anyone happier after an execution (including the victim’s family)?

Approximate number of executions in 2017

China (1551+) 

Iran (525+), 

Saudi Arabia (130+),

Iraq (111+) 

Pakistan (65+)

Jordan (15) 

North Korea (11+), 

Singapore (8+) 

Kuwait (7)

Palestine (6+)

Bangladesh (6+)

Afghanistan (5+)

Malaysia (4)

Japan (4)

Bahrain (3)

Yemen (2+)

UAE  (1+)

United States (23)

Syria - unknown 

Vietnam - unknown