Did you know.. facts on the death penalty

If you’re so inclined as to brush up on your death penalty knowledge, I’ve been working on developing some of my NGO’s information into an english resource for educators. So here are some comprehension questions.

  1. True or False: The Death Penalty exists in Morocco
    1. Answer: True: The death penalty is written into the Moroccan Penal Code. However, authorities have granted pardons for all those on death row since 1993. The death penalty contradicts the new constitution, which recognizes the right to life.
  1. What is the goal of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Pact for Civil and Political Rights (OP2)?
    1. Answer: The Second Optional Protocol to the International Pact for Civil and Political Rights (OP2) is an international treaty with the goal of abolishing the death penalty. So far, it has been signed by 35 states and ratified by 74.
  1. What method of execution does Morocco use?
    1. Answer: Firing squad. The condemned is placed in front of the shooters with hands tied behind the back and eyes covered. Often, some of the shooters have a blank. This relieves them of the trauma of who actually fired the shot.
  1. True or False: It costs more to keep someone in prison than to sentence them to death.
    1. False: On average, it costs much more to commit someone to death due to the costs of a trial. In the US, the average cost of defending a trial in a federal death case is over 8 times that of a case in which the death penalty isn’t sought. In California, studies show that if all death row sentences were changed to life imprisonment, savings would average more than $170 million per year.
  1. True or False: The death penalty has been proven effective for lowering crime rates.
    1. False: The death penalty hasn’t been proven to dissuade criminals from killing. Texas has the highest crime rates in the US, and yet it was the state with the most executions in 2012: 15 took place in Texas out of 43 total in the US.
  1. Which groups does the death penalty hurt most?
    1. Answer: Minority groups. Those who do not have the resources or the means to defend themselves, as well as those who come from minority groups, are the most disadvantaged by the death penalty.

In the US, African Americans represent 14% of the total population, and yet they represent 41% of those detainees on death row, and 35% of those executed.

In Saudi Arabia, close to half of those executed are foreigners, though they represent only a quarter of the overall population.

Homosexuality is grounds for the death penalty, often by public stoning, in 9 countries: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates.

  1. Do death row inmates in Morocco suffer from mental illness?
    1. Answer: Nearly 2/3 of inmates on death row in Morocco suffer from mental illness, and resources – including access to psychiatric and psychological services – are inadequate.

Last weekend I was talking with a fellow Duke student doing research in Rabat. He was telling me about a story from his hometown in Pakistan, where a woman was stoned to death by her own father for not marrying the man he had chosen, while the rest of her family looked on. Police and security forces were on hand, as well as hundreds of onlookers, but everyone watched with interest. It’s a crazy world we live in, isn’t it?

I found so many similar stories as I did research on the 9 countries where any form of homosexuality is grounds for execution, often by public stoning as well. It makes me feel like we’re living back during the witch hunts, dumping people into the water to see if they drowned (human) or floated (witch, henceforth, killed).

I’ll be following up soon with a reflection post on my work so far, on the DukeEngage independent blog. I’ll post the link, there are some really amazing, eye-opening Duke projects happening all over the world.

5 thoughts on “Did you know.. facts on the death penalty

  1. Interesting post. Do you know if Morocco has a public defender system for capital punishment defendants, and if so, to what extent is it effective?

    • Pavel,

      I know that there is a public defender system to at least some extent, but I don’t know (nor was I able to find in a quick internet search) the details of how it works. That being said, a lot of the research and work that I’ve done has looked at examples of cases in which poor or otherwise disadvantaged citizens did not receive a fair trial; many are brief or cut short entirely, and the lawyers they’ve been assigned are inadequate – on many occasions I’ve read scholars say “you get what you pay for” in terms of lawyers, and they aren’t paying. So while I don’t know the details of the defender system, I do know that it certainly isn’t as effective as it should be, and that’s just one of the many many issues with the court system in Morocco.

  2. Yes, it’s an amazing world. On the one hand, the incredible mosaics you show, wonderful people who can be so kind and generous to strangers in Greece, great acts of kindness and sacrifice to help others throughout the world; on the other hand, imprisoning migrants and refugees for over a year and a half in detention camps in Greece that lack adequate food, hygiene, or medical care; stoning to death a woman who refuses to marry a man she doesn’t love or a person who happens to be attracted to those of the same gender. The list could go on and on–on both sides.

  3. Item #4 is new information to me. I had no idea about the cost difference. Are statistics about the US likely to have meaning to your intended audience?

    It sounds like you’ve seen some amazing things, both in your job and in your travels. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    • Darcie,

      It’s interesting you bring up the question about how US statistics will resonate with the audience, as I’ve thought the same thing. I guess the main reasoning behind it is that there’s such a wide range of research in the US, with stats and figures and diagrams and maps, that can’t really be found for other countries and parts of the world in the same way. And it’s hard to make an argument that it’s more cost-effective to put people in prison, even if you know that it is, if you don’t have specific numbers or evidence of it. But I also do think that talking about the US – New York, Texas, California – tends to spark peoples interests, at least.

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