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Death Penalty and its methods

What is the death penalty? 
It is a statutory penalty to take life away from a person who has been recognized guilty of a misconduct described as a “capital crime” it is usually pronounced at the end of a trial by the competent judicial authority but this is not and has not always been the case (time of war, authoritarian regimes …). If this is not done by a recognized institution, it is called summary execution, revenge or private justice (which is reprehensible and can be called murder either
voluntary homicide).

History of the death penalty in the world
The death penalty is one of the first criminal sanctions applied, at least since antiquity (and perhaps even before), it is present in the oldest legal texts as in the code of Hammurabi (one of the oldest pieces of legislation that has come down to us:
1750 years before our era, the first almost complete, is a non-religious Babylonian text but of divine inspiration). The death sentence is the central element of the repressive systems until the eighteenth century and remains a sanction (provided by law) common to several countries until early nineteenth century. Among the best known of the condemned we can mention Socrates.
Traces of legal texts on the death penalty have been found in several civilizations in the course of history. Mesopotamians, ancient Greeks, Romans and men of the Middle Ages applied it. For the Greeks and Romans, she had several functions: expiate the convicted, protect society, satisfy the victim and deter criminals. However, the idea emerged early on that the death penalty was the last resort. Sanction universally recognized, it advances in time with the policy of States, the influence of religions, the need or not to make examples for the people and to prevent revenge personal. It was regularly accomplished by torture, the convict having to regret his crime and serve as an example. Yet the torture practiced in public has sometimes reached such level of horror that the idea of ​​an abolition of the death penalty has gradually emerged from the extent. It will actually be necessary to wait for the nineteenth century period when the abolitionist movement begins to escalate so that this sanction can be called into question, then its abolition in the majority of the countries of the world, it is still applied in some our days and keeps supporters. It is still provided for in the laws of nearly 100 countries and states, but only 18 countries have carried out executions in 2009.

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in its systematic application, some journalists had deemed it “unlikely” that states would vote even though they could enforce laws restoring the death penalty, but that did not law changes were made in order to continue to practice this sanction).
In 2010, several major regions of the world are totally abolitionist: Europe, Canada, part of southern Africa and Oceania. Some even claim it politically, in particularly the European Union and the Council of Europe. Although the majority of States are abolitionists (today, out of the 192 UN countries 140 countries have previously abolished it or
applies it more), but more than 60% of the human population lives in a country where executions take place, because the four most populous countries in the world apply the death penalty (these are China, India, the United States and Indonesia).
On the other hand, the United Nations Charter has defined and observed the principle of non-interference in state affairs, which meant that each state could apply the death penalty according to its will.

There are the 6 methods of execution  used in the world :

  • Lethal injection

Lethal injection is a procedure initiated by the United States in 1982 and then repeated by several countries (China, Guatemala, Vietnam, Thailand).

During 2011, the thiopental, in cessation of production in the United States, pushes the country to look abroad. The Lundbeck company in Denmark is currently supplying pentobarbital as a replacement but, alerted by the ethical issue, all US distributors are not providing prisons.

The protocol requires that the convict be strapped on a table with an intravenous in each arm, the second replacing in case of failure of the first. For the 3-step procedure, the barbiturate, first injection, anesthetic and lose consciousness; the second paralyzes the diaphragm, which interrupts pulmonary function. The last injection causes the cardiac arrest. Nicknamed “soft death”, lethal injection masks pain caused by the use of anesthetic. The convict can take long minutes to die while maintaining a neutral expression. Some dozens of executions were “sloppy”.

  • Hanging

Hanging stops breathing first. Much later, the heartbeat stops causing intense pain for a while. There have been cases where hanged persons have suffered dislocation of the vertebrae of the neck, resulting in incomplete asphyxia, and regained consciousness after seizures.

In recent years, it has been used in Bangladesh, Botswana, North Korea, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sudan and Syria.

Here is what a doctor says, witnessing a hanging at the Iowa State Penitentiary in the United States: “I learned … that when a man reaches the end of the rope, it happens a terrible crunches, the man does not just snap, but he is likely to wring pain for a while. The heart resists before ceasing to beat. As I listened to Edward Beckwith’s heart die for 13 interminable minutes, I had the time to ask myself many embarrassing questions. ”

  • Decapitation

Saber beheading is still planned as a method of execution in five countries, according to Islamic law (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen). The only country still practicing decapitation is Saudi Arabia.

The convict is brought to a public place. He is obliged to kneel, head down. Several strokes are sometimes necessary to detach the head from the body, it depends on the weight of the sword, the strength and the skill of the executioner.


  • Stoning

Paragraph 119 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code states that:
“The stones should not be too big so that the condemned man dies on the first or second shot, or so small that we can not give them the name of stone. ”

This punishment, which consists in killing with stones, is found in all the societies of the earth, at least at their origin. Reserved for sacrilege at the dawn of time, it is only rarely practiced in some countries where Islamic law prevails, which provides for the crimes of adultery.

Stoning is currently in force in seven countries (Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen).

Iran, an eyewitness recounts:
“The truck dumped a big pile of stones and pebbles near the wasteland. Then two women were brought in white, their heads covered with sacks. They then wiped a shower of stones and were transformed into two red bags. The wounded women sprawled on the ground and the Revolutionary Guards smashed their heads with shovels to make sure they were dead … ”


  • Shooting

Death by shooting is almost instantaneous if you shoot the convict closely and aim at the skull. However, most executions are carried out by a firing squad, which targets the heart from a distance and it is very difficult to kill a person immediately by such a method. There have been cases where one finds the “corpse” still alive in the morgue after execution.

The “success” of the shooting in the world is undoubtedly due to the fact that it allows expeditious executions, without too much staging and mass production.


  • Electric chair

This method is used exclusively in the United States. Electrocution produces visible destructive effects when the internal organs of the body are burned. Often the prisoner jumps forward against the straps and he sometimes defecates, urinates or vomits blood. In some cases, the prisoner did not lose consciousness at the first electric shock.

In 1991, in Greensville, Virginia, Derick Peterson received regulatory discharges of 1725 volts for 10 seconds and 240 volts for 90 seconds. At the moment of detaching his body from the chair, the doctor present observed that the pulse was still beating. It was necessary to repeat the operation.




                                                                                                                                      *Youssra Erraki

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