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04 December 2005

Old Sparky

On Friday, the United States reached a milestone of epic proporations. On that day, 57-year old Vietnam veteran Lee Boyd became the 1000th person to be executed in this country since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated. I don't really have a lot to say about it at the moment. But I thought I'd post a few statistics that I found interesting:

• In 2004, according to Amnesty International, 97 percent of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Viet Nam and the U.S.

• Eight countries since 1990 are known to have executed prisoners who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime: China, Congo (Democratic Republic), Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, USA and Yemen. The U.S. executed more child offenders than any other country (22 since 1976).

• Since 1973, 122 prisoners have been released in the U.S. after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death

• Since 1976, 34 people have been executed in the U.S. who displayed evidence of mental retardation

• Number of males executed in the U.S. since 1976: 989

• Number of females executed in the U.S. since 1976: 11

• Number of blacks executed in the U.S. since 1976: 337

• Number of whites executed in the U.S. since 1976: 577

• Number of blacks executed for murdering white victims since 1976: 203

• Number of whites executed for murdering black victims since 1976: 18

• Number of executions in Texas since 1976: 355

• Number of executions overseen by George W. Bush since 1994: 155 (152 while governor plus 3 federal executions while President)

• Studies in Texas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas have concluded that the death penalty is far more expensive (often by millions of dollars) than life in prison

• According to the FBI's Preliminary Uniform Crime Report for 2002, the murder rate in the South increased by 2.1% while the murder rate in the Northeast decreased by almost 5%. The South accounts for 82% of all executions since 1976; the Northeast accounts for less than 1%.

• Data released by the British Home Office reveals that the United States, which retains the death penalty, has a murder rate that is more than three times that of many of its European allies that have banned capital punishment.

It appears that our President is a serial killer.

(h/t: Washingtonrox)

Comments on "Old Sparky"


Anonymous benjamin said ... (12/05/2005 08:08:00 AM) : 

Nothing like watching the culture of life in action.


Blogger Daedalus said ... (12/05/2005 08:23:00 AM) : 

What a depressing way to start a Monday morning. Sigh...


Anonymous Gwen Stefani said ... (12/05/2005 09:43:00 AM) : 

where do you find this stuff?? you should be called mr. waspstats.



Blogger Marty said ... (12/05/2005 11:40:00 PM) : 

While I was reading thru this I was wondering what percentage of these executions were in Texas. Great post!


Blogger Marcguyver said ... (12/07/2005 02:36:00 PM) : 

I can only imagine that you are speaking 'tongue in cheek' when calling the President a Serial Killer.

I wonder also if you are implying, if I'm wrong and apologize, but the implication seems to be present in your statements that you are equating the U.S. with barbarous countries like Chine, Iran, etc. Truly you must agree that this is an 'apples and oranges' comparison at best and just simply defamatory in the least.

We may not agree whether or not executions are proper or necessary, and that's okay, but surely you can't be emplying that our form of 'justice' and our 'law of the land' is just like that of these other countries; for cryin' out loud, you get your hand cut off in Iran for stealing a loaf of bread.....I could be wrong but I don't know of anytime in American History that this has taken place on our soil and I would venture to bet that all of our executions have been done after justice has been served, not simply killing someone because they might disagree with the current administration and have written a commentary in the local newspaper so now they must die.


Blogger Wasp Jerky said ... (12/08/2005 07:33:00 PM) : 


I'm not necessarily implying anything. I just found it interesting that of the four countries that performed 97 percent of executions last year, we're the only "civilised" (at least in our minds) one of the bunch. But I don't think it's accurate to call it an apples and oranges comparison. That stat compares us to all countries. It's also comparing us with the rest of the West and telling us that, of all those countries, we're the only ones who feel the need to execute people. Maybe we should ask ourselves why that is and what it says about us as a culture, especially given that the research seems to indicate that executions are neither cost effective nor effective in deterring violent crime. Are we really a justice loving country? Or are we just barbaric?

You also, it seems to me, hint at the idea that at least we're not as bad as those other countries. I think that's a dangerous mindset to have. Regardless of whether or not we're "as bad as" Iran or China, we are still doing a lot of wrong here. We are still executing the mentally handicapped. We are still putting hundreds of people on death row who are innocent. We are still executing people of color because they kill white people but only very rarely executing white people who kill people of color. Those things are all atrocious and they will always be atrocious. In the words of Slacktivist, "How are we supposed to maintain a shred of pride in our nation or in ourselves as a people when the best we can say for ourselves is that we're Not As Bad As the worst people we can think of? Do we really need Stalin in the class to blow the curve so we can pass this course?"

As for our President, that was tongue in cheek. But I also stand by that remark. Our President has decided whether 155 people have lived or died. He has literally, with the stroke of a pen, killed them. Regardless of whether that was justice or whether he had been given authority by the state to sanction their deaths, they are still dead and he still killed them. That may not be the image you have in your head when you hear the term "serial killer," but that doesn't mean that he isn't one.

I would also suggest that anyone who orders the executions of 155 people must on some level enjoy it. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think anyone could be that merciless and not.


Blogger jasdye said ... (12/11/2005 09:21:00 PM) : 

ok, here's my deal:

an eye for an eye, when enforced by the government in a right manner (meaning, in seeking after justice, etc.) is a Biblical practice, both OT and NT. Jesus said that we should not concern ourselves with that sort of vindictive justice on a personal level, but there is no doubt that "government is established to keep the peace and punish the evil" (so, that's the intention of government, right?).

So, I don't think that the death penalty is wrong, per se, regardless of the numbers (and i am a fan of sociology, but the stats can be reconfigured in any # of ways).

I believe that what the numbers do show is a great divide in justice between the poor (a primary reason for the extreme overrepresentation of blacks in a) the criminal law system, b) prison and c) death row - although racism plays a huge role in that disparity also) and the haves.

and that is where the problem lies. shouldn't (for an extreme example) the head honchos for, say, a large energy corporation that cheats its employees and takes their money (after giving shareholders and the government the big run-around) and basically destroys their lives have to face the consequences for their evil deeds? shouldn't they be tried for criminal charges, incl. neglect, arson, thievery and -maybe- murder/manslaughter?

but i guess if the money's there for the right defense...

or say some top appointed government officials in charge of emergency aid where incompetent or negligent in parceling out aid to a largely impoverished and black region of the country decimated by a natural disaster, shouldn't they also face the reaper (so to speak)?


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