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Capital Punishment Speech

Capital Punishment Speech

Capital punishment is a barbarous survival from a less enlightened and

refined age; it is incongruous and incompatible with our present

standard of civilization and humanity. It has been abolished by many

states and countries, and we must look forward to the day when the

other governments will follow suit.

The arguments against capital punishment are many and credible, but

the pleas advanced in its favor are few and unfounded.

Punishment is supposed to be for the protection of society, and for

the reformation and rehabilitation of the wrongdoer. Its purpose is to

protect society by preventing the same criminals from repeating their

crimes, and by acting as a deterrent to other prospective criminals.

Capital punishment is a notorious failure in these respects. It does

remove the particular culprit from the possibility of repeating his

crime; but this is of very small account in view of the fact that

murder is seldom a career of repeated acts, but consists of single

acts perpetrated by different individuals.

As a deterrent to other murderers, likewise, the death penalty has

proved a signal failure, as may be seen by comparing the criminal

statistics of those countries where the punishment is in force with

those of countries where it has been abolished. A more than perfect

example is the state of Texas. The number of executions in the 1980s

was 33, in the 1990s the number rose drastically to 166. And since the

year 2000 there has been 80 executions with the last being on the 28th

of August.

Nor is the reason of this failure far to seek. Murders are nearly

always committed in sudden fits of passio...

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...ts to provide means

whereby murderers, as well as other criminals, can be isolated in

institutions where they can be humanely treated as patients or people

of unsound mind. And this must be made part of a general campaign of

educative and remedial treatment of crime outside prison walls.

Otherwise prisons will be -- what they too often are -- places for

disposing of the materials which we manufacture outside.

Anger and fear are passions, and retribution may be left to the

eternal justice. Why then should we continue to justify by legal

sanction a procedure which, if committed privately, would be murder

pure and simple? Why should the State, which represents the people,

continue to do in cold calculation deeds which the mere criminal only

perpetrates in the heat of passion and madness? In truth there is no

reason.

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