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Capital punishment: for and against

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The ultimate penalty is death (capital punishment). It is carried out by hanging (Kenya, for example); electrocution, gassing or lethal injection (U.S.); beheading (Saudi Arabia); or shooting (China). Although most countries still have a death penalty, 35 (including almost every European nation) have abolished it; 18 retain it only for exceptional crimes such as wartime offences; and 27 no longer carry out executions even when a death sentence has been passed. In other words, almost half the countries of the world have ceased to use the death penalty. The UN* has declared itself in favor of abolition, Amnesty International actively campaigns for abolition, and the issue is now the focus of great debate.

Supporters of capital punishment believe that death is a just punishment for certain serious crimes. Many also believe that it deters others from com≠mitting such crimes. Opponents argue that execution is cruel and uncivi≠lized. Capital punishment involves not only the pain of dying but also the mental anguish of waiting, sometimes for years, to know if and when the sentence will be carried out. Opponents also argue that there is no evidence that it deters people from committing murder any more than imprisonment does. A further argument is that, should a mistake be made, it is too late to rectify it once the execution has taken place. In 1987, two academics published a study showing that 23 innocent people had been executed in the United States. Research has shown that capital punishment is used inconsistently.

In addition, while in some countries young people are not sent to pris≠on but to special juvenile detention centers, in Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Bang≠ladesh, Barbados and the United States children under 18 have been le≠gally put to death.

As the debate about capital punishment continues, the phenomenon of death row (people sentenced but still alive) increases. In 1991, no one was executed in Japan, but three people were sentenced to death, bringing the total number on death row to fifty.

The debate also involves the question of what punishment is for. Is the main aim to deter? This was certainly the case in 18th century England when the penalty for theft was supposed to frighten people from stealing and compensate for inabilities to detect and catch thieves. Is it revenge or retri≠bution? Is it to keep criminals out of society? Or is it to reform and reha≠bilitate them?

(From: Law Today)

*The UN Ч ќќЌ (ќрганизаци€ ќбъединенных Ќаций)


capital punishment Ч высша€ мера наказани€, смертна€ казнь

by hanging Ч через повешение

electrocution (n) Ч казнь на электрическом стуле

lethal injection Ч смертельна€ инъекци€

behead (v) Ч обезглавливать

abolish (v) Ч отмен€ть

abolition (n) Ч отмена

retain (v) Ч сохран€ть

execution (n) Ч приведение в исполнение (приговора, решени€ суда)

execute (v) Ч приводить в исполнение

sentence (n) Ч приговор

pass sentence Ч выносить приговор

sentence (v) Ч приговаривать

deter (v) (from) Ч отпугивать, удерживать

commit a crime Ч совершать преступление

imprisonment (n) Ч лишение свободы, заключение

innocent (adj) Ч невиновный

revenge (n) Ч месть

revenge (v) Ч мстить

retribution (n) Ч возмездие, кара

reform (v) Ч исправл€ть

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