Views from Around the World

Views from Around the World

From: THE WEEK MAGAZINE (commentary from newspapers around the world) July 2-9, 2010 edition.

Gerd Bruggemann….commentator for Neue Zurcher Zeitung, in Switzerland wrote……….

A handcuffed man sat strapped in a chair, a hood covering his face, a bull’s-eye affixed to his chest. When the executioner gave the signal, five shots rang out, and the man’s chest exploded in blood, his arms twitching. This isn’t a scene from a bygone era. It took place just last week, in the state of Utah, when convicted double murder Ronnie Lee Gardner was killed by a firing squad. Utah is the only state in the union that still uses this barbaric form of execution, though only for inmates who were on death row in 2004 – when the state ended the practice – and who choose the method themselves. For decades, death by firing squad has been extremely rare, so you’d think Gardner’s execution would have at least “attracted attention” in the U.S. In fact, few commentators seemed to find the proceedings particularly gruesome, and the use of a firing squad “failed to trigger a national debate on outlawing the death penalty.

Rupert Cornwell, London Independent, wrote……..

That’s because Americans just shrug at executions. The U.S. legal system provides for appeal after appeal, so convicted killers generally spend at least 25 years on death row. Most Americans believe that after all that time, if no evidence has turned up exonerating the prisoner, he deserves to die. But the problem with the long delay is “that sometimes the individual who is finally executed is very different from the person who committed the crime decades earlier.” Gardner for example, came from an abusive family, by age 6 he was sniffing glue and by 10 he was smoking pot. He killed a man in a bar and then during his trial for that murder, callously killed a lawyer while trying to escape. Yet during his time in prison, he had transformed into a mentor for incarcerated youth. He hoped the governor would pardon him so he could continue that work, but the pardon never came.

Christoph Albrecht-Heider, Franffurter Rundschau, wrote………

Americans aren’t interested in stories of rehabilitation. Much of the civilized world no longer practices capital punishment. But most American “steadfastly adhere to the concept of revenge as the basis for their justice system.” Those few Americans who do oppose it see life in prison without parole – a penalty also abolished by many European countries – as the merciful alternative. For the rest, the debate isn’t about the morality of state-sanctioned killing. Instead, it “turns
predominantly on irrelevant questions about whether lethal injection is humane or death by firing squad is barbaric.”

David Torres, Il Mundo, in Spain wrote………

The whole system is barbaric. Gardner chose death by firing squad because he had read horror stories of lethal injections gone awry, leaving victims paralyzed and in agony as the minutes ticked by. Yet lethal injection is still the most common execution method in the U.S. “The most advanced country in the world, the cradle of liberty”, has a justice system from the Middle Ages. The relatives of Gardner’s victims actually applauded his death, toasting the firing squad with Champagne. There is something deeply wrong, something unwholesome and rotten in human nature if an execution could truly make them happy.

If you agree with these international journalists, in their views about American and its death penalty system, maybe it is time you join the effort to abolish the Oregon death penalty.
Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is a non-profit organization with a mission to repeal the death penalty. Community organizing is now underway. Soon there will be efforts to place “repeal” on the ballot for the citizens to decide what kind of state they want to live in.

See www.oadp.org for more information. Join us in this campaign to create a better Oregon. Call (503) 990-7060 or sign up on-line.

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